B2B Marketing Doesn't Have To Suck

Guess what!  B2B marketing doesn’t have to suck. In fact, it’s getting “sexy.”  

I don’t mean B2B marketing is starting to push the boundaries of what can be considered risqué.  But it is starting to employ the elements that make B2C marketing work — which makes B2B attractive to progressive marketers. Core to this transformation are insights derived from data and applied in a creative fashion.  

For a long time, B2B marketers focused on demand generation, marketing automation and events.  Advertising in a B2B world was very fact-driven, with a focus on answering questions.  That style of marketing can be very dry — and while effective, it doesn’t do much to create loyalty and inspire the audience in an emotional way.  

Recently, through leveraging the same tools used by B2C marketers, B2B companies have been generating a more robust view of their target audience.  That level of insight is accompanied by the recognition that the business audience is made up of people, too.  When they’re not considering a B2B purchase, they’re likely considering what to eat for dinner or what products to buy at home.  



B2B target audiences are only B2B for at best 50% of their day.  The rest of the time they are your everyday consumer.  Data allows you to know what makes them tick, and creativity enables you to speak to them in a more colorful fashion.

When you know more about the desires, interests and motivations of your audience, you can get more interesting in how you speak to them, adding flair and speaking with more personality.

Consumers of all styles want to know they picked a product or service in the same way they would pick a partner in any aspect of their lives.  They want trust and support, a relationship with someone who will be there to help them.  Whether you’re selling cloud-based software or a warranty for a tractor, your prospects’ selection has an emotional component to it.

Of course you can’t overlook the complexity of establishing and managing that emotion.  B2B audiences do more research and engage with your brand in more places than ever before.  It’s about social via Facebook and Twitter.  It’s video on YouTube.  It’s reviews posted on everything from Glass Door to LinkedIn.  There are 360 degrees of places they go before they even contact you, and Google is probably the most important of them all outside of simply speaking to their peers and asking questions.   

Without data to help you identify that B2B consumer, how can you know where they are in their own personal journey?  If they haven’t directly reached out to you and asked for a whitepaper or some other piece of content you created, you can’t possibly know.  You need the data to help identify and recognize that person — certainly before they’ve arrived at your site and included you specifically in their consideration set.  

This kind of data-driven identification is standard practice in B2C marketing and is now being adopted by B2B marketers as well.

It may not be as sexy as sponsoring the Super Bowl or a concert series, but B2B marketing is innovative.  It can be extremely targeted and personalized while still being incredibly creative.  Don’t sell yourself short. I guarantee your competitors are getting creative.  Why aren’t you?

4 comments about "B2B Marketing Doesn't Have To Suck".
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  1. Brett c Mccarty from Big Rocks Marketing Cooperative, February 10, 2016 at 2:05 p.m.

    Cory, thanks for this piece.  I have long thought it important to think about our B2B or "trade" customers as "consumers too."  After all, they are all "regular people" in their personal lives, not just the Buyer, CEO or corporate decision-maker.


  2. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, February 10, 2016 at 2:26 p.m.

    I would posit that you have it backwards. B2C marketers could learn a lot from good B2B marketing. In a lot of cases, B2B marketers know more about their customers, having come from the same fields, and having done deep dives into the buying journey and process. The B2B marketing out there now that does suck comes from thinking that business decisions always come down to price and features.

    The results of B2B campaigns are tied more directly to buisness outcomes, like business growth, customer value and market share, instead of half-there metrics like engagement, shares and interactions. These outcomes apply whether the marketing task is B2B or B2C.

    In fields where the enterprise covers both B2B and B2C, the B2B sector often yields more profitable, higher volume customers than B2C. And there can be more loyalty engendered in B2B because of the buying process within the overall B2B structure.

    B2B marketers are also much less likely to stand for questionable media metrics, including impressions and views on digital media. It's harder for you to see good B2B marketing, if you're not in the target.

    Unfortunately, B2B publishing is far behind B2C in many aspects of intersecting the customer journey and trackability to an ultimate business outcome. You're right in that primary research or data among B2B customers is harder to secure because of the specificity of many targets.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 10, 2016 at 2:52 p.m.

    The audience is not data; they are people. Know their kid's birthdays was always the adage. You can find out about them by asking. Asking is caring. Caring leads to sales. Trolling fbeast, etc., is trolling, not asking. You are right, Cory. 

  4. Hallie Kogelschatz from shark&minnow, February 16, 2016 at 10:58 a.m.

    Couldn't agree more. As someone who spent the majority of her career managing campaigns on behalf of B2C companies & made the switch to handling many B2B brands in the past 4 years, the strategies are most synergistic than ever. We are so proud to use data & available tools to successfully help with not only the communications piece but also sales acceleration (which has become a huge part of our core offering at shark&minnow).

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