Business-to-business marketing is not easy. Unlike the consumer brand marketing, business staffers do not make impulse decisions. Believe it. Understand it. And don’t forget it, because therein lies the secret to success in business product marketing. You are dealing with tough customers when you attempt to sell to business staffers. They must be convinced that the products or services they purchase will produce a profit or benefit their business in some way and will give them a fair return on investment.
Adopt a “Business Perspective”
To convince your business target of product benefits, use step-by-step procedures to define your selling strategy in the business–person’s language. Then, demonstrate how your product or service will fulfill the need with business-related benefits and attributes. And, finally, convey an assurance that your company will stand up to promises, commitments and claims.
Plan A Communications Mix
Business decisions are not made in vacuums. And, because of the push and pull nature of business product marketing as well as the many levels that influence any decision, you will have to employ a mix of communication vehicles to reach an assortment of audiences. Advertise to reach the end user. Avoid using a “shotgun” approach when selecting media because of its inefficiency and, in most cases, its ineffectiveness. Use interactive business media to reach primary prospects and public relations to reach influencers. Motivational programs, trade shows, selective online media, trade shows, sales aids, and collateral selling materials need to be developed and produced for salespeople and distributors. All forms of communication should be complimentary, synergistic and reviewed as significant options.
Avoid the Numbers Game
In business-to-business marketing, you can’t buy numbers. You are dealing with a defined, small audience who cannot be efficiently and effectively reached through one mass medium. However, print and online specialized business publications are directed to these audiences. Their environment should have just as much to do with considered purchase decisions as the advertising message itself. The businessperson also looks to online media and trade publications for information, advice, “hard to get” merchandising, co-op opportunities, and possible editorial. Remember this when planning print media space advertising.
Never, Ever Underestimate the Sales Force
Salespeople are integral in most business-to-business selling situations. It’s the “face-to-face” confrontation in business product marketing that clinches most B-to-B purchase decisions. Do not present or support unrealistic, unsupported expectations. Many salespeople have seen it all.
Ron Owens is a Past President, Ad Club of Metropolitan Washington; former Governor, 4A’s Region II; Vice Chair, AAF Region III; Co-Founder & Principal, LMO Advertising;former VP, Diversity & Inclusion, TMP Worldwide and VP, Bozell Worldwide. Ron is currently, President, Ron Owens & Associates, specializing in market development, branding, diversity, equity and inclusion. A frequent guest lecturer at regional universities and contributing writer for several trade publications, Ron can be reached via Ronowens221@ yahoo.com.
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