The explosion of B2B (business to business) online marketing in recent years has meant the internet is awash with content for users to peruse. Articles, advice, infographics and more. But with this comes a problem. A huge proportion of it is mediocre, recycled information that either plays it way too safe, or tries too hard to be cool.
So, does B2B marketing have to be so bland? In a word, no. Whilst there is clearly a huge difference between marketing a replica light-sabre on Facebook to selling the benefits of your recruitment agency on LinkedIn, there are still a number of ways you can engage your target audience.
Tone of voice
Nailing the correct tone of voice for your intended target audience is crucial if your content is to succeed, and that’s tough when you consider how broad your audience is likely to be. One common mistake many marketers make is focussing far too much attention on one demographic.
So, whilst millennials need to be addressed and will apparently account for an annual spend of $200bn in the U.S. alone by 2017, you can’t simply lump them all into a box labelled hip or quirky and pretend the rest of the nation doesn’t exist.
Craft a tone of voice which suits your product and brand, but never forget you’re still talking to people who need to trust you. It’s perfectly fine for a recruitment firm, for example, to drop a small dose of humour into a blog post, as long as it’s appropriate and will resonate with its audience. Just don’t be excessive with it.
A lot can be learned by observing the way in which creative agencies market themselves. Sure, they have a little more freedom to be off-the-wall, however they must still strike a finely tuned balance between being cutting-edge and professional, whilst at the same time building trust.
Integrated marketing, PR, design and digital agency Turn Key does an excellent job at marketing itself, whether it’s sharing relevant, industry-related news on its Twitter feed, or producing its own in-house magazine, which clients can receive on request.
Authority and empathy
If you know your company is exceptional in advising clients, then demonstrate this in your content marketing. Create posts which address industry problems and provide the solutions in an easy-to-digest format, only using jargon when absolutely necessary.
Financial consultancy giant Deloitte may not be selling the most glamourous service, but it is respected around the world for providing its clients with knowledge and insight. The problem it had was that it catered for such a broad spectrum of industries, meaning it couldn’t go for a ‘one content hub fits all’ approach.
It got round this by creating a series of carefully constructed knowledge hubs, which utilise topic tags so users from different sectors can quickly find content which relates to them.
Look at the end result
Think about the average building materials company and you picture a clunky dinosaur of a website which looks as old as the internet itself. But it doesn’t have to be like that. FireRock is an Alabama-based firm which provides premium building materials to merchants, however its marketing strategy focuses more on the bigger picture.
The imagery on its website and social channels focuses on the finished product, allowing it to become a go-to source of inspiration for homeowners and leading architects, who love to share and interact with the content.
Without reinventing the wheel, FireRock managed to inspire its users and create engagement which goes so much further than bricks and mortar.
One way in which brands such as FireRock manage to succeed on social channels such as Pinterest and Instagram, is by ensuring their hashtags are cleverly optimised in order to draw interested users in.
Research the social channels most relevant to your brand and find out what people are discussing, and which hashtags are trending, as this can open you up to a much broader audience.
Get smart when using imagery too, avoiding stock photography wherever possible. Nobody will want to share anything generic, so focus on producing eye-catching images unique to your brand instead.
A good LinkedIn profile is essential if you are to gain respect within the B2B world, so work hard to ensure your profile and posts are on point, and tailored to a more professional environment.
B2B marketing doesn’t have to be bland, no matter how plain the product or service seems on the surface. Don’t be afraid to break the mould, demonstrate your knowledge, show empathy and tap into what makes your customers tick with inspirational ideas and insight.