If you've followed any of my writing, you'll detect a pattern. Most of my insight has focused on consumer-based marketing strategies. You know the drill; Tom's Widget-2000 finally breaks and you happen to sell the Widget-3000. If this were a typical article, we would delve into the various strategies in connecting both Tom and your company.
For today's piece, however, I'd like to explore a much narrower segment of marketing - business to business or B2B marketing.
The topic came to mind when our firm received a recent call to present our services to a potential business customer who, in turn, has an end customer. In this case, our services would ultimately benefit the end-user, but the pitch has to focus on the business in the middle.
I have found that "sizzle" for B2B marketing is far different from that of consumer driven initiatives. When marketing to the average Joe (or Tom, to remain consistent), I'd most likely recommend pushing the emotional buttons of the consumer to illicit a response. However, pushing the same buttons in the B2B world will appear trite, at best - unprofessional, at worst.
So what are some solutions? Let's get into a few tips that will help you effectively market yourself in the B2B world.
When you are pitching your services to a VP, director or buyer at a company, focus on that individual's reputation. In other words, make it a point to communicate that he or she will not have egg on their face should you be selected as a vendor. In fact, highlight the opposite; help them to visualize how they will be lauded as the most brilliant person in the company for discovering such a capable vendor.
Know the Cat's Name
Chances are the person you're pitching to is not spending their own money. As such, you may find that this person makes buying decisions in a, seemingly, unemotional fashion. To them, you're just another company looking to chew into their budget. If you run into these B2B quandaries, seek to cultivate a relationship - get to know the person behind the staunch game-face. Even if you're turned away, try to strike up a bit of small talk afterwards. With their guard down, learn more about your nemesis – even if it means trading cat stories. The point of this exercise is to set you up for a future encounter. When you reconnect with this company down the road, you’ll have the advantage of being seen as a friendly face rather than an unknown salesperson. The point of all of this is to say, people buy from people they like.
Sell the Edge
In this ever-changing, dynamic business world, companies thrive on being perceived as innovators and thought leaders. If you happen to sell a service or idea that allows for a company to be out-front, leverage this to your advantage. Don’t limit your thinking to just technology. What you offer just might provide the right company with a PR edge. So be sure to look at the full range of benefits you can bring to bear.
Walter Dailey is a marketing speaker, consultant, and creative director for DSV Media, a creative services firm and ad agency specializing in Small Business Marketing for companies all over. Ask your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org