We’ve all heard the refrain from B2B clients: “you don’t understand my audience, they don’t live on B2C channels.” Nowhere is this misconception more evident than in technology and engineering-driven companies, where marketers are trained to believe that the influence channels and content that drive consumer trends absolutely can’t work in their B2B world. Never mind that Intel became one of the worlds most recognized brands by virtue of a relentless consumer campaign.
What conventional thinkers never account for is the fact that, regardless of profession, we all consume information the same way – through personal channels and, increasingly, in small content vignettes. Sure, we might belong to professional communities catering to our specific areas of expertise and professional interest. But we come to those forums and communities already steeped in the behaviors of a B2C world.
The reality is, whether an engineer, scientist, attorney or marketing professional, we all spend an increasing part of our day consuming content and engaging with friends, families and far-flung networks in consumer-driven social channels. Even LinkedIn, a professional network, prompts us to engage in a consumer way, sharing our own content, interest and information.
So what does it mean from a marketing perspective? Mainly that when developing a go-to-market strategy, a good B2B marketer should be thinking in the same way he or she would if they were marketing consumer product. Let’s say, for example, you are a marketer for a system on chip platform that sits inside today’s most prolific mobile devices and IOT infrastructure. Your task is to get engineers in your target customer community to buy your chips to make their devices work better. Sure, any engineer worth his or her salt is going to be most interested in the technology advantage. But that same engineer is going to be equally focused on the cool factor he or she can create by using this particular chip in the device he or she is building.
So what are you going to do to get that engineer’s attention? Tell them the things they already know? Like the chip speed is twice the previous version or can handle one-and-a-half times the previous processing flow? Where do you go next with the story? If you’re smart and strategic, to the distributed networks where that engineer spends their personal time, and with content that focuses on the cool factor. Not the processing speed itself, but the outcome it delivers at a consumer experience level. Telling that engineer they have the power to build the best 5G network is fine. Showing them the impact in real life circumstances – a patient being saved by his or her watch calling an ambulance, a fleet of cars running, driverless, through metropolitan areas, a 3-D scale virtual waiter taking an order at a restaurant. That’s what’s cool.
What does it mean if you’re a B2B marketer? Well, in addition to being certain you have a fabulous core program targeting the obvious channels with the obvious content, you also need a comprehensive, content-driven campaign that emotes and entertains. It needs to be short form, visual, and provocative. It needs to include video and infographics. It needs to be mobile so it can launch off of a phone or watch – which is where your target audience is increasingly consuming his or her information. And it needs to feel like it has some consumer flair.
Next time you’re planning your B2B campaign, start with how you consume information yourself as the baseline for how you ought to build a program. Think about the people around you and what they do in common on the web. Then leverage that to build an impactful program that challenges the norms and breaks conventional wisdom. That’s the future of great digital – frankly great all – marketing