If your job involves marketing, you know that you’re involved in the sales process. After all, nothing really happens until something gets sold.
But how does selling to people in a B2B environment differ from B2C? Humans make the decisions for both, don’t they?
And none of us dump our subconscious at the front door before going to work. We are the same people at work as we are at home.
I’m not talking about management style or patience here. Many of you might have a different personality at work than at home. I’m talking about your wants, desires and things that subconsciously grab your interest.
The reality is that, by and large, the techniques that work for B2B also work for B2C.
But there are some vital differences, which are included in this list. Why not print this out and stick it to your wall for the next time you’re facing a business-to-business communications challenge.
And remember to like this post if you liked this post!
1, Mix your channels: If you use a single marketing communications channel it is unlikely to make a sale by itself.
That’s because most businesses make their purchasing decisions in small groups, typically of around 4 people.
And seldom will all four read the same communications. For instance a finance director might read http://www.icaew.com for insights, trends and news. Whilst a production director, who might have a powerful vote if it’s an industrial purchase, might read technical trade communications.
Others you might need to convince like the managing director or CEO, who’s focus is likely to be on broader firm benefits including cost, might only read things like the Financial Times.
So it might pay you to use several channels with different messages for each.
2, Make it interesting: This might sound obvious but make sure what you are selling is of interest to the person you are speaking with.
For instance, you might be fascinated that your staff size has hit the 200 mark or that you’ve won another award. However, your clients probably won’t give a damn.
But they will be interested in your promise if it helps them solve a problem they are facing.
3, Be specific: No one like generalities or vague statements, but people love facts.
So say how much money your product or service will save your prospect. Or how much time. Or how many percentage points better your product scored in independent tests.
Here’s a classic, and very successful, strapline using facts for cat food that I bet you’re familiar with: “eight out of ten owners said their cat prefers it”.
Here’s another great fact that could be used in communications, but I don’t know if it is: “WordPress was used by more than 23.2% of the top 10 million websites as of August 2013.” If I managed WordPress communications that would feature heavily.
4 Use testimonials: As a rule of thumb any testimonial is better than none, but relevant ones are best of all.
If you want to see a great professional services example of this take a look out the covers in Andy Bounds’ book, The Snowball Effect.
The pick of the bunch for me being: “Andy Bounds recently helped Barclays secure a £2.6billion deal, one of our largest ever.”
Not a bad comment I’m sure you’ll agree!
One of the biggest industry’s in the world, entertainment, uses testimonials to pursued us to spend money. Music, movies, plays and TV shows all rely heavily on them.
And of course there are many websites giving you feedback and reviews on services. From http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ and http://www.trustatrader.com to http://www.foursquare.com/ and http://www.trustpilot.co.uk, they all contain testimonials designed to build trust.
5: Demonstrations: If you’re really confident that your product or service is considerably better than that of your competitors, devise a demonstration showing yours as the outright winner.
If it is a simple demonstration that your prospect can quickly do themselves, even better.
A recent example of this was the ‘Bing It On Challenge’ by Microsoft. A campaign designed to go head-to-head with Google to discover which search engine delivered the best results. Take a look here: http://www.bingiton.com/
6, News: This works really well in business-to-business marketing.
Buyers in businesses are always looking for new products and services to make their lives easier. Or to reduce costs and make more profit.
And when you have news: shout about it.
7, Information: There is a long held myth in communications that people don’t read copy.
This is not true.
People read what is of interest to them and if this happens to be your message, it will be read.
Selling a typical business solution is usually more complicated than selling an FMCG product. After all, there is not too much to say about a deodorant or pasta sauce.
But in business-to-business marketing you have to answer a range of questions including things like: price, performance, delivery, suitability, guarantees, maintenance, support and more.
So it stands to sense that you need to use more words to construct and win your argument.
8, Layouts: Your layouts should be simple, avoiding the ‘lets do something different for the sake of it’ attitudes of far too many designers.
Use images that are interesting to illustrate your message. Don’t try to be clever by making your reader work to understand the link between your image and message. They won’t bother.
When designing for press communications copy the editorial style of the publication. Try to use small images with captions underneath them. Twice as many people will read them as read your body copy.
When designing for email try to use very few images, if any at all.
I’m sure we’ve all seen email with lots of empty blocks where images should be, but your software has not displayed them.
They look a mess. Even worse, people that create such emails usually rely so heavily on the images and not the words, the message is totally lost. And the email hits the bin within seconds.
Many big direct marketers actually use text emails when communicating with suspects, introducing more images as the suspects turn into prospects then clients and repeat purchasers.
The landing page linked to this advert followed the rules on above on layout and style. But one important difference was the number of times the copy asked the reader to take action.
With landing pages, the more you ask the more you get!
9 Headlines: Your headlines are vital.
They get on average 5 times more readers than the rest of your copy. If your headline doesn’t sell, you’re are wasting your money and your time.
Your headline can do many things. It can:
- promise a benefit;
- give news;
- offer a service;
- offer free content;
- solve a problem your reader has; or
- quote one of your happy clients.
But please don’t try to be clever. Or use one word headlines. They probably won’t work. An advertising copywriter I know has made it one of his life’s quests to collect advertising headlines proclaiming “The best just got better”. At last count he was at 112, all for different products / services!
It goes without saying that you should spend most of your time on your headline because if it is ignored, so is the rest of your message.
I hope you found this list useful.
If you have – and it has paid off for you, then well done to you. And stay with them.
I say this because me – and I countless others I speak with – have paid for such services only to be let down.
In fact over the last couple of days I have been commenting on an interesting LinkedIn thread about this very subject.
Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are probably many brilliant SEO experts working today.
But it is also a market awash with scoundrels trying to make a quick buck by plying their ‘magic’.
Then – after the inevitable Google algorithm change – they tell you everything you have been paying them to do is now wrong and it will cost you more money to change your strategy.
So this article, which I read today on http://www.searchengineoptimisation.eu, made me smile.
I think this case is in the USA.
But you know the old saying “When America sneezes, the UK catches a cold”
Law Firm Sues SEO Company for Using ‘Spammy’ Methods
An SEO firm is supposedly being sued by their law firm clients as a result of building link farms that do not adhere to Google’s guidelines, trying to cheat the system that Google are insistent on monitoring of late.
With the client disgraced by the dishonest service they have received, the SEO firm, The Rainmaker Institute, is to face up to the online marketing offences they are accused of.
In the technological age in which we live it is vital for every business to have an online presence. The only way in which companies can survive in this day and age is with a healthy Google ranking for all relevant keyword searches.
Where companies are now employing their own in-house content marketers and SEO specialists many are still turning to outside SEO firms to handle this sector of their business.
This law firm, Seikaly & Stewart, is based in Michigan and trusted their SEO firm to support them with the online side of business, a company incorporation so important to their success.
With the law firm feeling cheated by the unlawful service they have received, the matter will be settled in court.
Forcing doubtful links is just not the way to achieve a successful online marketing campaign with Google wanting to see the value and legitimacy of your site before supporting it.
The SEO company reportedly created 6,720 links with the majority of them considered “worthless”. Only a mere 188 of the links, or 2.8 per cent, were of use, illustrating the lack of credible knowledge this particular SEO company employed.
Google are cottoning on to such practices, rolling out the Penguin and Panda algorithms specifically designed to spot untrustworthy links and badly written content.
If you have an opinion on this matter leave your comments below.
I hope you never have to go to such extremes with your service providers, SEO or others.
Just keep your eye peeled for snake oil salesman.
There are a lot of them around in cyber space!
George Orwell was right when he said “truth is always stranger than fiction”. And this poster advert proves it.
If you work in advertising or marketing communications you probably work tirelessly. After all, it’s bloody hard work trying to create and deliver messages that achieve sales results.
And make no mistake about it, making people buy things is the ultimate objective of advertising.
If you don’t believe me, here’s what Raymond Rubicam once said of advertising: “the only purpose of advertising is to sell. It has no other function worth mentioning.”
And given that Raymond Rubicam was an advertising pioneer who many people consider to be the father of modern advertising, his opinion will do for me.
Anyway, back to you and your job.
When you are creating your messages you’ll spend countless hours choosing the right photographs or illustrations, writing attention grabbing headlines, interesting body copy and probably a big fat call to action.
Then you place your advertisement.
And if you don’t have control over exactly where or what your advertisement appears next to, your message can be seriously misconstrued like this:
You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
Unless, of course, it is a PR stunt. Although if it is, I don’t really know who benefits.
You’ve probably heard of, and used, the 4ps of the marketing mix 100s of times. And if you work in services marketing, you’ve probably used the extra three too: process, people and physical evidence.
But I wonder how many of you have used Place as effectively as this girl. Because last month, a 13-year-old business-savvy cookie girl in San Francisco made the shrewd decision to set up her cookie stall outside a medical marijuana dispensary.
I guess knowing that people using the dispensary might get a little peckish after smoking.
The result: she sold 117 boxes in just two hours! Now that what I call understanding your customer buying habits.
Maybe Alan Sugar should get her on the apprentice; in place of the bunch of dimwits he usually finds.
I am reading, for the second time, Ogilvy on Advertising. Which, in my humble opinion, is the greatest book ever written on the subject.
Every time I read the book it gives me new ideas. And confirms my beliefs in some others areas where I’m constantly questioned.
Anyway, I have a question I’d like your opinion on. On page 109 Ogilvy talks about the problem with using celebrities in TV advertising; particularly for their ability to change people’s brand preference.
He gives these two reasons:
1, People forget the brand being advertised and remember the celebrity instead
2, People are cynical of the brand as they guess the celebrity has been paid – and they are right
But has this now changed since this book was first published in 1983? Does our fascination with all things celebrity mean using famous people in advertising increases brand preference – and ultimately sales?
Or do big brands, armed with even bigger budgets, not monitor brand preference or sales accurately enough to know?
I’d really like your comments and opinions on this subject.
Advertising is everywhere in modern society. From TV, magazines and billboards to the internet, back of bus tickets or someone’s forehead! Put simply, wherever potential customers look, marketers will stick an advert.
Therefore I was interested in the recent story, and criticism, about Britain’s top-ranked female beach volleyball team selling advertising space on the back of their bikini bottoms.
Betfair, the world’s largest Internet betting exchange, has apparently paid £10k to advertise a barcode which, when photographed with a smartphone, takes the user to the company’s website.
In reaction to this Sian Norris of the Bristol Feminist Network commented: “Do we want these women to be seen as athletes or are they walking advertising billboards?
I find this comment stupid at best. Money makes the world go round. Period.
Take a look at almost every sport you can think of and you’ll see advertising in all kinds of places – and most of these sports people probably don’t need the money half as much as our beach volleyball team.
For example you can stick your advert on:
- The breeches and boots of jockeys.
- Waistcoats worn by snooker players.
- Anti-glare strips worn under the eyes of cricketers
In fact when my good friend Kelvin Eatherington was marketing manager of a law firm in Barnsley, he turned-down the opportunity of advertising on the back of Barnsley Football Club’s shorts for the FA Cup semi-final match against Cardiff City at Wembley. Given the amount of publicity this gave CK Beckett, the firm that eventually did buy the ad space, he’s regretted it ever since.
A quick look online also shows tons of advertising all over bikinis worn by female volleyball players for brands including Nivea, Visa and Gillette – not to mention branding for the manufacturers like Speedo, Nike and others.
This is a great PR stunt for Betfair and their marketing team. I guess their £10k investment for the advertising space has been paid back 10-fold by the public relations coverage they have gained!
For me the real problem here is not sticking advertising in places where people look, it’s encouraging people to take photos of woman’s arses!