The B2B world has a reputation for being kind of bland and boring — you’re marketing to businesses who know what they need, so you don’t need the flash and branding of B2C efforts, right? Wrong.
The principles of branding and marketing apply just as much to B2B as they do to B2C. You’re still trying to attract the right visitors to your site, differentiate yourself in their eyes, and demonstrate that you’re the best solution to their problem. And with over a billion B2B websites out there, standing out is no easy task.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to B2B marketing, but there are a few ways you can put yourself ahead of the crowd.
Be As Helpful As You Can
When potential customers start their research, they may not have a clear idea of what the best solution to their problem actually is. They know they have a problem, but they’re not sure how to solve it, let alone which business provides that solution.
That’s where you come in. You have an opportunity to show overwhelmed visitors that you understand their plight, that you’ve encountered similar people with similar problems, and that you know how to solve them.
Don’t overwhelm visitors with technical speak about how your product works — jargon will go in one ear and out the other if you can’t convince them why they need your product. They want to know who else has had the same problem as them and how they addressed it.
Think about what previous prospects have asked you about your business, or browse sites like Quora and LinkedIn forums to see what people want to know about your market and your space. Make a list of questions and start answering them — social media is great for short-form answers, while longer answers warrant blog posts, landing pages, or even whitepapers.
Make It Interesting
At the other end of any B2B transaction is a person doing the research and making the final decisions, and if you can’t keep that person’s attention, you won’t get their business either. At the beginning of the customer lifecycle, your customers don’t want a pitch, they want information. But it doesn’t have to be boring.
When you expand beyond written text, you’ll make your content more captivating while still informing potential customers how you can solve their problems.
Videos, infographics, and even quizzes can present your key information in a way that’s interactive, interesting, and easy to understand, while still making your point.
Become The Expert
Once you’ve started to answer basic questions, start to dive deeper into the world in which your business operates. Tell customers stories, publish some of the data you’ve discovered from previous clients (anonymously, of course), and start to write about topics that are related to the businesses you serve.
The goal is to become an authority on the subject — and have the information to prove it. Prospects want to learn more about your offerings and they want to know that you know what you’re doing — the more expertise you can display, the better.
Offer Live Demonstrations
Lots of businesses won’t buy your product unless they can see it in action, but you’re not going to be able to give on-site demos in every case. That doesn’t mean you can’t be as helpful as possible, though.
Schedule a call with your prospect so you can talk to them about their specific needs, problems, and questions. Knowing that your product or service can be tailored to exactly what they need will make a prospect much more likely to buy.
If your product lends itself to the format, consider a live video. Make it one-way — they’ll be able to feel the human engagement of watching a real person without worrying about how their hair looks. You can also use any number of software applications to share your screen, showing them in real time how to use your product to solve whatever problems they might think of. Seeing the product in person will give them a much better sense of whether you’re a good fit.
Be a Brand
Last but not least, keep your branding principles in mind. Lots of B2B companies forgo branding efforts, but as we mentioned before, it’s still a human being making decisions at the other end. Make sure your materials are well-crafted and consistent, from voice and tone to colors and logos.
Your business should have a personality. That personality helps you appeal to the people you want as customers and — just as importantly — filters out customers who won’t be a good fit. It's tempting to cast as wide a net as possible, but there are customers who aren’t worth the effort, and branding can help you work with the people who share your vision.