Why B2B Shouldn’t Just Mean Business as Usual

We all know the foundation of solid ad strategy is creating an emotional connection with your target audience – something that aligns with their personal experiences and stands out from what every other brand is saying to them. Yet when it comes to business-to-business advertising, many agencies seem to forget this basic tenet.

After many years spent working with both B2C and B2B clients, I’ve found that brands are typically eager and willing to strike an emotional chord when it comes to consumer campaigns, but the same doesn’t seem to hold true for B2B. In fact, I often joke that almost every B2B campaign you see essentially makes the same claim: “We will help your business grow.” Sound familiar?

Sure, the bottom-line rules in the business world, but is that really what your brand is selling? And is it the only thing that matters to the decision-makers in that business? Probably not. At the end of day, you are still talking to real humans with personal experiences – so what works for B2C still applies for B2B, provided you can back it up with some results.

The most successful B2B strategies and campaigns dig beyond the bottom line to find that deeper, more tangible nugget tied to what makes their audience tick on a daily basis. Maybe your brand helps ensure they always have what they need, when they need it by uncomplicating the sales process. Or helps their team feel more confident and capable with better training and support. Or simply makes it easier to keep their customers happy and coming back by providing a unique product benefit. Whatever the case may be, if you can identify what matters most to them and how to make their experience better, then that’s what will resonate and distinguish you from the competition.

This is easier said than done, of course. It requires some legwork to fully understand how their business works and how they serve their customers. Exploring questions like: What are their goals (beyond just sales quotas)? What are their pain points? What do they value most from their partners? It means going beyond the leadership team and talking to stakeholders across functions and levels to get a real grasp of how they operate. Because it is those collective experiences that will help you recognize how your offering can best meet their needs on a day-to-day basis. And that’s the emotional lever you can pull to drive preference for your brand.

So don’t fall into the “grow your business” trap when it comes to B2B marketing. Armed with the right insights, and an appreciation of the humans behind the business, you can create B2B campaigns that are every bit as captivating as any high-profile consumer ad. It’s time to get down to business (but more than that).