B-to-B Insights: Figuring It Out
It’s not easy being the marketing communications (marcom) manager of a B-to-B company.
In addition to the usual marketing communications challenges you must deal with, there are several unique issues B-to-B marcom managers face: 1) marketing technical products that they may be unfamiliar with, 2) understanding the B-to-B prospect and 3) the motives behind customers’ buying decisions.
Marketing products that are technical and complex means marketing products that are difficult to understand.
B-to-B agency owner Joe Lane once commented, “Consumer marketing is simple thoughts for simple folks.”
When you’re advertising a bar of soap or a chocolate cake mix, neither you nor your agency has a difficult time grasping the features and advantages of your product. But when the product is a semiconductor or a spectrophotometer, marketing that product involves achieving a degree of understanding that is not always easy to attain.
One shortcut I’ve discovered to understanding technology: Buy and read a children’s book on the subject. If an explanation is intended for a child, a lay adult can certainly understand it. If there is no children’s book available, buy a nontechnical book on the subject intended for a lay audience.
For example, I once had the assignment to write a brochure for a company that bought and sold gold and silver bullion, a topic which, at the time, I knew nothing about. I bought a popular book about gold written for teenagers and quickly got up to speed with a basic education on the subject.
You might also take a course to get up to speed. One ad agency account executive was assigned a welding account, and found that he could not understand the terminology the client used. Nor could he empathize with the needs and concerns of their target market, professional welders. His solution was to take a course in welding 101, which eventually turned into a series of classes that led to his becoming a certified welder.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.