Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Think Like A Business To Consumer Marketer

I've been delinquent with my blog posts recently, but now return to action.

Business-to-business marketers have one of the most difficult and underappreciated jobs on the planet.  Your mission is to create memorable brands out of downright "unsexy" products. B2B marketers must educate extremely smart potential buyers, ensure that influencers are knowledgeable about their products, and ultimately convince people they should bet their jobs on choosing products over those of competitors. Moreover, even while sticking to a limited marketing budget, B2B marketers must provide a hungry sales team with enough qualified leads to keep their pipelines full.

How do B2B marketers do it? 

The best B2B marketers are successful because they start with building a brand.  In other words, the best B2B marketers think like business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers.

The first step toward thinking like a B2C marketer is to create great brand recall.  Let's say you're thirsty and you walk into a store that carries Coke and ABC-Cola.  You immediately reach for the Coke because you know exactly how it will is the safe choice.  However, if earlier in the day you'd seen an ad that said "ABC-Cola, Tastes Like Coke, but 100% Organic!" you may well have tried the ABC-Cola.  The ABC marketer who bought that ad had a simple goal -- not to drive someone to make an immediate purchase but, rather, to create brand recall that would influence decisions in the future.

Of course, applying this method to B2B marketing is more challenging, but it can work.  First, to illustrate how much more complex the B2B marketer's challenge, let's use this same example but in a B2B context. Your boss asked you to buy a soda for a company party, so you go to the store and spot
Coke and ABC-Cola. Even if you had seen the ad marketing ABC-Cola, you'd still choose the Coke. Why? Simply because Coke is the less risky decision, and many purchase decisions in a business environment are made with the goal of minimizing risk. Nobody ever ruined a party by buying Coke, but if you showed up with the ABC-Cola and your co-workers didn't like it, you'd take the blame for making a poor decision that had a negative impact on the company party.

So, what would the ABC-Cola marketer have to do to convince you, as the business buyer, to choose ABC-Cola instead of Coke?

Tune into my next blog for answers.

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.