By Rana Sidahmed, vice president of marketing, Apparel Division, Avery Dennison
Which is trickier, B2C or B2B marketing? This question is often raised in marketing circles.
According to a 2022 LinkedIn/YouGov survey, 56% of B2B marketers believe B2B marketing is the most challenging. Certainly, there are many unique considerations when addressing a professional buyer as a B2B marketer. We’re competing for time and attention in a world where, every day, we have more to do, in less time. We’re also seeing decision-makers face mounting pressure to prioritise, while CMO’s marketing budgets are being slashed.
Given today’s landscape, how can we create effective B2B marketing campaigns in 2023?
Here are my top tips for storytelling that will get results in 2023:
- Shine a spotlight on your customers
Spotlight your customers by focusing on case studies and testimonials that demonstrate how your product, solution, or service solves their problems, save costs, or contribute to their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. Be sure to pick the ones that highlight your unique selling point (USP). Use videos and storytelling to illustrate your points.
At Avery Dennison, we have helped apparel brands adopt digital care label technology to move their sustainability ambitions forward, and prepare for incoming traceability legislation. To showcase how we’re able to help customers proactively with these impending changes, we’ve developed case studies to show how our proprietary technology is reshaping the industry and can be proactively implemented by B2B buyers. Videos help bring these case studies – which can sometimes feel theoretical – to life in compelling and memorable ways.
Adding AI on top of your existing B2B customer data can provide a deeper understanding of customers. Insights might inform product recommendations, predict customer lifetime value, provide analysis on churn, and reveal preferred communication channels. The art of segmentation and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) can be mastered with AI and data analytics, meaning you can hone in on certain profiles for targeted activities, boosting incremental marketing effectiveness.
- Foster authenticity and cut the corporate speak
Be authentic and avoid corporate jargon in your content. Focus on developing a brand personality that resonates with your target audience and is true to your brand. Get creative and inject a sense of humour to engage potential buyers and cut through the noise.
Nearly half (48%) of B2B purchase decision-makers said they found B2B advertising boring, according to one survey. What’s needed is for B2Bs to creatively engage customers by creating compelling experiences that are much more memorable than traditional advertising. Consider creating experiences for customers and offer them something that truly provides
Avoid greenwashing and make sure your sustainability achievements are backed by evidence. Anyone can say they value sustainability, but it’s much more powerful to show, for instance, that your carbon reduction has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
We’re operating in unprecedented times – extreme weather events, war, recession, and a pandemic. There are many reasons to collaborate and find answers at this time of adversity. 2023 is a good year to get involved in community efforts, champion teamwork, and support industry campaigns. The stories that emerge from these connections are sharable because they resonate at a human, emotional level.
- Justify why your product is essential in a recession
Some prospects will be more influenced by the financial crisis than others. Many will ask for a discount. All will want to know exactly when they will see an ROI from any investment in your products.
Justify why spending on your product or service in a recession is worthwhile, by demonstrating how it brings your customers value, solves a problem, or drives efficiency. Amplify your recession-busting success stories on social media. The B2B customer journey and buying experience is moving closer and closer to that of the B2C experience. YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok could play their part in your campaigns. Business people have email fatigue. They are ready for B2B marketing videos and memes to appear on these channels now, and things like cost-saving tips will catch their eye.
In the dark times, providing an excellent service and helping clients improve their operations will deepen your bond with them. A downturn is a wonderful opportunity to prove your brand’s worth.
In summary, it’s all about harnessing creativity, putting the bottom line up front, and telling authentic stories that resonate with your audience. A good friend always reminds me that there is no such thing as truly B2B because we are always speaking to humans: she argues the phrase should be business to humans. The techniques outlined above show how to connect with buyers as people, and not corporate entities.