One of the most frustrating things about working in the B2B sector is seeing B2B marketers act as though they’re marketing to faceless corporations.
Yes, B2B stands for business to business. But we mustn’t forget that these businesses are made up of real people. Real human beings with thoughts, feelings and emotions that influence all aspects of their decision making. So why are we not marketing to them?
Here are some ways we as B2B marketers can adopt a more personal approach to our marketing activity.
Remember, it’s okay to use Instagram (it won’t bite)
According to research done by Hubspot, LinkedIn is the second-most popular social media platform used by B2B marketers, ranking only behind Facebook.
And it makes sense. Facebook and LinkedIn are wonderful channels for marketing within the B2B sector.
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore Instagram.
Instagram can be a strong visual marketing channel for your brand and an opportunity to build a following that helps grow your B2B business. According to TrackMaven’s research, B2B companies experience their largest engagement ratios on Instagram. So it’s definitely worth exploring.
And if you think your target audience isn’t on Instagram, trust me, they are. With over 1 billion monthly active users, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone not on Instagram.
Those in the B2B sector should view Instagram as a little window into their brand. An instant and memorable snapshot of what your company is about that is engaging and personable to potential customers.
A great example of this is HP. Yep, the computer guys. Their Instagram is fresh, engaging and visually appealing. Yes most of its posts feature their technology in some way, whether as demonstrations or highlighting the designs, but it’s done in a subtle way:
Fun fact: 84% of B2B buyers head to social media when they’re actively making a purchasing decision
Mix up your content, keep it interesting and for god’s sake don’t be too salesy
According to B2B Marketing Lab, “the average buyer guides themselves through as much as 60% to 80% of the purchase decision process – reading blogs, eBooks, case studies, white papers and other marketing collateral – before even contacting a salesperson.” So it’s no surprise that research by the Content Marketing Institute found that “50% of the content created by B2B marketers is focused on creating brand awareness and interest.”
And there’s no reason this content can’t have some fun and personality in it. Many B2B marketers fall into the trap of thinking B2B content needs to always be boring and ultra professional. And some really go too hard on the sell. Whilst it’s important to promote your product or service to your audience, if that’s all you do, it can be off putting.
The reality is, consumers of B2B content are just human beings looking for help.
Of course, they’re looking for the ideal solutions to specific business problems but that doesn’t mean they’re keen to sift through pages and pages of data in emotionless white papers. Yes, white papers serve a purpose but that shouldn’t make up 100% of your content.
People want easy to digest, interesting content and if you produce that with a little bit of personality thrown in, B2B decision-makers are more likely to get to know you, connect with you and ultimately trust you more. And without some personality, how will you ever stand out from the competition?
Hubspot does this really well. Their blog is a mix of amazing eBooks, case studies, webinars, a quiz, and a marketing kit that helps small businesses. Rather than approaching it from a sell, sell, sell point of view, they’re helpful. And their Instagram is great too:
Fun fact: Listicles Get 218% more shares than “how to” tutorial-style posts
Collaborations with influencers work when they’re carefully thought out
It’s easy to think influencer marketing is purely for the B2C sector but those marketing in the B2B realm can leverage the power of influencers too. In fact, influencer marketing can deliver incredibly high ROI compared to other forms of digital marketing.
Now that doesn’t mean B2B brands should just find a random celebrity to stick on their social channels. No, B2B brands have to be more careful when partnering with influencers and you should focus on those who are closely aligned with your company values or goals. And your chosen influencer doesn’t necessarily have to be an individual. Another brand or company is a great route to go down. It’s worth noting that in the B2B sector, influencer partnerships work best for short term, goal specific campaigns.
A fantastic example of this is when Microsoft wanted to promote women in STEM careers with the goal to encourage more girls to pursue this field. They worked with National Geographic photographers to put a spotlight on women scientists and their stories.
Overall, the campaign garnered more than 150 million social and digital impressions on National Geographic distribution channels, 4 million social engagements, and 6.4 million video views. And the best bit? Nearly 300 girls attended 6 #MakeWhatsNext workshops in Microsoft locations across the U.S.
Fun fact: Businesses are making $5.78 ROI for every $1 spent on influencer marketing