Only trust can bridge the business-to-business divide. We've been building it for 25 years.
Communicating B2B – business to business – demands a distinct approach, focused on individual business needs.
Unlike B2C (business to customer), it’s less about mass reach and quick conversions, and more often about building up a relationship over the long term – based on trust, added value and utility.
Redhouse Lane has been helping clients reach business customers for over 25 years. Here are a few of the things we’ve learned.
Build a relationship
Business is built on relationships. Content marketing lets prospective customers get to know your business long before they commit to buy.
Laying this foundation leads to meaningful relationships with your customers. But it is not a short term process. There are no short cuts. It takes time and commitment.
Develop a recognisable personality for your content that resonates with your customers.
Convert gently. No hard sell.
But keep the calls to action coming: invite your audience to make an enquiry, attend an event, visit a website or ask a question.
A customer magazine is a powerful way to build long-term B2B engagement. For over 50 years, Optima was Anglo American’s flagship magazine. It enabled the mining firm to develop its relationship with stakeholders (including high-ranking officials), differentiate its brand, and reinforce its position as an industry thought leader.
And magazines have longevity; studies suggest they’re kept for an average of 18 days and read over multiple sessions.
B2B marketing is not a matter of running advertising with a few how to’s thrown in. Put your customers’ needs first.
Use case studies: business customers like and trust the experiences of their peers.
Use analytics to tailor your content to provide what people are searching for.
Think about what they want to know, not what you want to tell them.
Talk Power is EDF Energy’s online resource for businesses with large energy needs. It’s a rolling programme of useful, practical content, specifically to help them make informed decisions about their energy supply and usage.
Use multiple touch points
Business customers can seem elusive. The reality is they’re simply busy. They want information to be there when they need it, not pushed on them when they’re under pressure from another angle.
So maximise the chances of reaching them by increasing the possible touch-points – not by increasing the number of emails you send them. So if they have deleted your e-mail, ignored your banner ad, missed your blog, binned your flyer, over-looked your webinar, snubbed your survey, don’t despair… you can always get them with your podcast.
Make your content go further. Slice up that big infographic into Twitter-sized stat graphics. Transcribe that webinar and see how many blog posts it makes.
Cross-promote your content – from Vimeo to YouTube to LinkedIn.
Hay Group’s Best Companies for Leadership survey was designed to build its B2B reputation for research and thought leadership. We supported it with a series of global marketing campaigns that left no customer touch point un-pressed – targeted email, online adverts and banners, animations, posters, information packs and toolkits.
If you have little time to get your message across, then it must be immediately understood. Using business jargon as a shortcut to customer comprehension is not the answer. It’s just noise.
The answer is to focus on clarity and simplicity. Even the most complex messages can be understood through good writing and sympathetic design.
Cut the jargon.
Show how you can help them solve their problems.
Explain what makes your service distinctive.
Employ a copywriter.
The Carbon Trust developed a huge catalogue of printed, digital and video content for businesses of all sizes and all levels of technical sophistication. By tailoring the material for the different audience segments – from layman’s guides to detailed technical documents – they ensured their messages were understood.
Excite the emotions
Business is anything but dull. More often, it’s a rollercoaster of hope, dejection and excitement in quick succession. (And we speak from personal experience).
So why should your marketing be dull? Engage your audiences by exciting their emotions.
Video is an ideal medium to excite emotion.
Be human. Try thinking of it as a conversation, not a (corporate) communication.
Humour often works wonders. If it makes you laugh, you’ll remember it.
Innovate UK works to engage and support the innovative SMEs and entrepreneurs of the future. So an important part of their B2B programme is designed to fire their imaginations. The Predicting the Future videos do exactly that, with stimulating topics, interesting locations and appealing presentation.
Keep it short
Business people are busy. The clue’s in the name. Doing deals, beating off the competition, bulk-deleting junk mail. They don’t have time to digest long and turgid communications. Keep it short and to the point.
(That doesn’t rule out long-form content. But make it useful. And accessible.)
Subdivide your story into digestible bits: summaries, listicles, top ten tips.
A picture’s worth a thousand flyers – so use graphics to tell the story.
Focus on making multiple connections over time. Keep your powder dry.
Want to talk about how content could support your B2B marketing activity? Contact Redhouse Lane to set up a conversation – no hard sell.