When B2B Marketing Just 'Feels Right'

I get asked a lot about my thoughts on B2B marketing.  I spent half my career working both B2C and B2B, and in the second half I narrowed my focus to be solely on B2B.

 I did so because I found it to be fun.  My realization was the best B2B marketing considers the end customer or user to be a business consumer, with the operative word being “consumer.”  If you speak to the end user like a human being who responds to the same things that all humans respond to in B2C, you can be wildly effective.  I think the humanization of B2B marketing is even more important in 2021 and beyond.

In 2020, the world ran into a hurdle called COVID-19.  Businesses were forced to rethink how they operate.  We saw a wave of marketing intended to connect on an emotional level with audiences, generally with a compassion-themed message.

Now that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, marketing messages are about recovery and enabling growth, and these are still emotional messages.  For many businesses, the worst part of the pandemic is behind them and they are now trying to determine how they will respond to this next phase of growth. 



This is where the humanization of B2B marketing really comes in.  These are businesses who are here to help other businesses grow, either through providing technology, services or both. 

For each player in a given category, there are viable alternatives.  B2B decision-making is comprised of evaluating speeds and feeds and technical applications, but there is also an emotional element that’s hard to measure.  In a high-priced consideration, the emotional weight is significant.  A provider can check all the boxes in your evaluation, but you want to work with a company that you can trust.  You want a partner, not just a provider.  You want someone whom you can engage with when things are good, as well as when things are going not so well. 

These business relationships are as important as any personal relationship.  They are crucial to your success.

So, how do you add a personal element as a B2B marketer?  First off, think like a B2C marketer.  Don’t be afraid to tell a story.  Don’t be afraid of humor, or compassion, or the other emotions that tend to motivate you to consider a brand or product.  Think as if you were buying a car, a house, or an expensive suit.  What would make you decide to go ahead?  Is it the feeling you get when you put it on?  Is it the feeling you get when you drive up to it?  What is that feeling, and how do you recreate something like that in your B2B product messaging? 

Secondly, think like your customer.  Imagine you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and you are stressed about something from work.  Who would you feel comfortable reaching out to in your partner network for a solution, and why? If you can identify the “why," you can get to the humanized, personal reason.  It’s not because you think “they have that service available.”  It’s probably because you know you can trust them, that you have a great relationship, and that they have performed for you in the past. 

Great B2B marketing taps into emotion.  It enables your brand to be the one that your customer thinks about first when they need to solve a problem.  There are many options to choose from, but that one “feels right.”

How do you create that “feels right” situation for your B2B marketing?

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