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Sure it’s B2B, But Your Customer is Still Human

As I come up on ten years in the ad biz, I realized I’ve gotten around. I’ve worked in recruitment advertising, B2C, eCommerce and now B2B. All in all though, it’s pretty clear – advertising is advertising, no matter what the genre. In the end, we’re trying to sell “something.” Now, how you sell “something” is the real trick. And this is where B2B can take cues from B2C.

People say that most of the tactics used in B2C don’t apply to B2B. I’m not totally sold on that. Sure your audience is different, but that audience is still a consumer on the inside. They still react internally when making a purchase, even if it’s a $250,000 piece of equipment. What I’m saying is there’s still psyche involved. It’s time that B2B advertising and marketing taps into that more.


Trust A Stranger: Product Reviews vs. Testimonials

In B2B, I’ve noticed the “testimonial” approach is used frequently. It’s believed to build credibility and reputation among business professionals and key decision makers. But does it really? Advertising has been around long enough for any type of consumer to know that we only use “positive” testimonials. How’s that for credibility? Doesn’t carry that much weight anymore, does it? So what does? Take a cue from eCommerce and add product reviews.

Authentic product reviews make a huge difference. Your customer is more likely to believe a complete stranger versus any message that comes from you. The key is to not treat them like testimonials. Don’t be afraid to let your customer see a few bad reviews. It makes them seem more authentic.  It also gives you an opportunity to gain real feedback without spending money on focus groups and product testing.


Page One = You’re Important: Blogs vs. Whitepapers

Whitepapers are big in B2B. And yes, they serve a purpose. But all that valuable content can be SEO gold. You’ve heard the term content is king, right? Well today Google’s algorithms are smarter than ever. Unique and relevant content can skyrocket your website to the top of the list, if done right.

That’s key because a huge percentage of people don’t even click past the first page of Google. Think about when you search on Google. How many times do you even come close to clicking through to page three? And if you do, how important do you feel those companies are beyond page three? So, get social. Pair those whitepapers up with a blog. Write blog articles around your most popular whitepapers and link to them in your posts. Also, get experts to contribute and write articles too. The more relevant, valuable content you put on the web, the more organic and free exposure you’ll get.


Respect My Time: Video vs. Text

This might sound contradictory given what I just said, but in today’s mobile, high-bandwidth, 4G-world, videos are more accessible than ever. And believe it or not, search engines value videos as well. The trick is to complement the text on your website with video. Don’t let copy do all the heavy lifting. Your customer doesn’t have time to read a long page of product benefits. Or, get a YouTube page up and make some commercials. A quick sixty-second product video can start a conversation pretty quick. It’s engaging and doesn’t require as much concentration as reading does, especially for those busy CEOs.


Cool Factor: App vs. Brochure

I’ve seen some sexy brochures in my day – great colors, great die cuts, even ones with USB drives in them. But there’s something missing. Interactivity – other than turning the page. I’m not saying kill the brochure. But let’s move on, B2B world. I don’t care what position a customer holds in a company, they still like stuff that’s cool.

Time to embrace technology. Heck even be environmental and save a tree. Print less, save more and give your sales force proper ammunition. Take a page from some of the luxury automakers. They’ve ditched their owner’s manual for iPad apps, and it’s opened a whole new can of worms for brand loyalty and add-on sales. It’s all about complementing your current assets to create engagement and tap into the psyche. If you want your customers to think you’re tech savvy, it’s time for an app.


I’m Done

My point is, in the end, you’re still selling to a human being. Sure your customer has profits in mind – costs, budgets, his boss, her boss’s boss – but if your brand is right, these are just a few more of the things that help trigger decisions. There’s no substitute for what’s been working in B2B, but it doesn’t mean you can’t go further by taking a page out of what works in B2C as well.