Obviously, Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing is all about talking to people. When we discuss B2C, we can talk about how to build relationships, how to appeal to emotions, and how to reach out on both traditional and social media. But Business to Business (B2B), we think, is different. It even has a different acronym! Maybe it’s that we take it too literally and think we’re marketing to “a business” instead of to people. Maybe it’s that we like to think we in business leadership are somehow different than ordinary folk. Whatever we’re thinking, we’re wrong.
The B2B space is people, too.
Obviously, businesses are made out of people. If you have twenty executives sitting around in a board room discussing whether to buy your company’s products, those are twenty people. Each of them has thoughts and feelings and lives outside of work (yes, I know it’s hard to imagine, but business people do have real lives!). Each of them has both social and personal connections through which they can be influenced and through which they influence others. Most of them are probably on Facebook or Instagram.
And marketing to these people is still all about building relationships, appealing to emotions, and reaching out through traditional and social media. That decision about your product might be made in the boardroom, but it’s possible it happened because of something they seen on social media or because someone’s friend or family member saw something on Facebook.
Yes, there are differences. In the B2B space, your prospective clients will have somewhat different needs and interests, and may have a different level of expertise with your product and your industry. It’s not like you can utterly ignore that. But it’s still all about providing value and building a relationship, and you do that with the same, familiar B2C methods you’d use with any prospective client.
I’ll leave you with a story.
A few years ago, we hired a new sales rep. He did a good job, but I noticed he was nervous in meetings with clients. Now, there is nothing wrong with this at all—we all have nerves, and even the best sales reps can get nervous about a new encounter. It was just one of this guy’s quirks. But he noticed our quirks, too, and one day this sales rep commented that I and a few other experienced salespeople in the company had looked like we were sitting in a hot tub when in the meeting.
Sitting in a hot tub?
I asked what he meant—he said we looked very calm and not nervous. I said to him, “we are just talking to people. That’s it. When you bring a conversation down to a human level, it is way simpler. It’s just people.”
You are not talking to a business, even if you are in B2B. You are talking to a person who is in a business.