After visiting the Technology For Marketing event at Olympia with Sarah B in London earlier this month, I came out thinking how overwhelming it all was. So many companies selling similar services and products side by side, all trying to get their buyers’ attention. It was a veritable bun fight of companies handing out sweets and free pens and ethically-sourced tote bags. Everyone was working so hard. But few companies really stood out.
It often feels like marketers targeting customers in other companies think that people stop being real when they walk into an office: that they turn into business-automatons. But we are all still human beings, whether we are buying oil pipeline flanges* or something for supper.
People want to learn, to have fun, to get recognition, to achieve things in their lives at work and at home. They want to be helped or access the tools they need to help themselves. They sometimes have to buy stuff. They want to be listened to, get their problems fixed and be served well.
There are so many rich points there when brands could be useful to customers, to insert themselves respectfully and helpfully into the picture. To connect with the customer. So why don’t they? Businesses are stuck in the self-reinforcing inertia of ‘we’ve always done it this way’.
The F&G team has been helping B2B companies with their hustle since 1995; back then Franklin started out in the world of PR and Green learnt her trade through exhibitions & conferences. That is a long time of fighting against boring, off-kilter, poorly targeted marketing that doesn’t understand or reflect the customer or serve the business.
And why should consumer brands get to do all the sexy stuff? The ironic thing is that consumer brands are often furthest away from their customers. They’d kill to have the direct relationship with
their customers that B2B brands do. In B2B relationships rule. And relationships are all about humans and their emotions.
We need some EQ in B2B. Let’s look for that human point of connection. That’s why we founded F&G – we want to save good people from bad marketing.
OK, rant over. Let’s get positive again. Who is doing a good job of B2B marketing?
Farming start-up Hectare made headlines with its Tudder, Tinder for cows campaign. It was fun, headline fodder but it also drove hard business metrics too with great traffic and new user registration stats. They’re up for a well deserved award. Love it.
Exeter education brand Sparx is passionate about the power of learning. It shines through its marketing which has as its hub a thriving community for teachers. Teachers are a tough audience – time- and resource-poor, but Sparx has clearly addressed the critical ‘What’s In It For Me?’ question. The community provides learning opportunities for the community members (knowledge share plus CPD) plus product development opportunities for the teachers to feed into and the business to learn from.
Bristol’s OpenBionics boasts a beautiful use of emotive creative through its branding and use of video. The consumer-focused ‘Turning Disabilities into SuperPowers’ mission and Hero Arm content is powerful, and that consumer aesthetic runs consistently across its B2B marketing – including great resources for clinicians.
We can also learn from Hubspot. Its educational videos and content in the Hubspot Academy are on point, short focused digestible and useful. F&G is exactly target market for Hubspot and we connect with its marketing. Our only tip for Hubspot is that it’s time to build some British English into that content!
So it is possible to be human, have emotion, make a connection in B2B. It’s time to break the B2B marketing resistance to change and be brave.
We’d love to help.
*And yes we did have a competition to see who could get the word flange into a blogpost.