There’s a paradigm shift taking place among many B2B manufacturers and service providers when it comes to their marketing strategies. In the past decade, traditional marketing tactics have shifted away from print ads and cold calling in favor of a targeted online inbound approach. But despite changing methods of reaching customers, some companies have failed to change their message:
“#1 Solution for Streamlining Your Operations!”
“Highly Innovative Product!”
Sound familiar? I don’t know about you, but when I see claims like that, visions of Charlie Brown’s teacher come to mind. “Blah, blah, blah…” They don’t say much, and all sound the same. Or worse, those claims can come across like a late-night infomercial with announcers shouting at me through the television.
Those types of claims are likely the same ones being made by your competition and, just like those infomercials, people tune out. Such messaging positions the product or company as the hero that will swoop in to save the day, and it says nothing at all about what’s most important: the customer.
Instead, what if your messaging focused more on your customer’s success rather than your own? That’s what’s happening in today’s B2B landscape.
New Audience. New Message.
The demographic of the B2B buyer is changing as Baby Boomers exit the workforce at a rapid pace. Younger, more tech-savvy, hyperconnected professionals are the new decision makers in many organizations. Nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials. This is great for those who’ve embraced an inbound approach to marketing, which thrives on online engagement and nurturing using robust marketing automation tools such as Hubspot, a company that estimates that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.
A new audience requires a new message. If you’re still not convinced that abandoning old-school tactics to promote your brand is the way to go, maybe these statistics will change your mind:
- Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to those not focused on the customer
- 63% of CEOs see rallying their organizations around the customer as one of the top three investment priorities
- Nine out of 10 U.S. CEOs say they are strengthening their customer and client engagement programs
- Only 45% of B2B marketers feel their levels of customer centricity are good
How to Craft a Customer-centric Message
What does a customer-centric approach look like for B2B? It’s more than just providing “superior customer service.” Understanding the underlying motivations that drive someone to make a highly considered purchase can help.
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, motivating factors are separated into two basic categories: deficiency needs and growth needs. The top two categories in the chart below are the motivating factors for most B2B buyers: Esteem and Self-actualization. When B2B marketers focus on a buyer’s desire to grow and learn, treat them with respect and position their content in a way that allows the customer to grow and be all they can be, they’ll feel empowered and in control instead of feeling “sold to.”
Yes, people need to have the basics (product specs, price, etc.) covered in their quest for solutions, but what they’re truly seeking is self-esteem, pride, the respect of peers and self actualization. The two need to be intricately woven into customer experiences during their buyer journeys. Here are some practical ways to do that:
- Tell a story. When developing your content — whether it be blogs, eBooks, video, etc. — go beyond technical jargon and information and help the reader or viewer imagine themselves in the content being shared. Show personality in your content, share examples of customers who faced a challenge and overcame it with your help, and ask pointed questions that peak the reader’s interest and help them identify with the subject matter.
- Become active on social media. An important factor in moving up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is rooted in relationship. Building relationships with potential customers can be difficult in a digital world, but having an active and, more importantly, interactive presence on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter will show your human side and build trust.
- Adjust Your Messaging. Take a hard look at your website’s homepage and the overall tone of your headlines, taglines, content and front-facing marketing messages. Is it all about you? Or is it all about what the customer can accomplish with your help? Seek ways to adapt your messaging to speak to the customer’s desire to grow and succeed.
- Be considerate and helpful. No one likes to be told what to do. Focus on how your product or service is there to come alongside the potential buyer by addressing pain points in a way that lets them realize their need and stay in control. Let your emails and lead-ins to CTAs serve as invitations, and find a balance between active and passive language. For example, rather than saying, “download our checklist now,” try taking a softer approach with, “you can get our helpful checklist by simply clicking the link below.” This approach puts the customer in charge.
Positioning your company as the one that will help your customer thrive and succeed needs to be the focus. In order to do that, you need to understand who your B2B buyers are and establish strong buyer personas to use as messaging guides and create appropriate nurturing campaigns. There’s a Buyer's Journey Worksheet that you can download below that can help. When potential and existing customers feel empowered and appreciated, they’ll be more likely to engage in your online content, download materials, fill out contact forms and build a working relationship that leads to a purchase. Identify your buyer’s motivations, goals and desired destination; then walk arm in arm to help them get there. If this approach to attracting and delighting B2B buyers sounds appealing to you, we'd like to come alongside you to reach them. We're here to help, so feel free to reach out to us for a no-cost consultation.