B-to-B Insights: Figuring It Out
Two benefits resulted. First, he could speak the client’s language—in fact, speak it better than they could. And second, he understood his target audience better, because he had become one of them.
A science or engineering background is a definite plus when you are assigned the task of marketing technical products. You simply have the knowledge to quickly get up to speed on any new technology you encounter.
Entering the Mind of the Prospect
The second challenge of B-to-B marketing is to understand not only the product, but also the prospects—their needs, concerns, desires and fears.
However, getting inside the mind of a B-to-B prospect is typically more difficult than understanding how a target consumer thinks. After all, when I’m hired to write a direct mail package to sell a stock market newsletter, the target audience is investors. And I, like millions of other Americans, am an investor. So it’s easy for me to think like the prospect; I am one.
Some time ago, I was hired to write a direct mail package to sell a publication aimed at pediatricians.
I’m not a pediatrician. I’m not even a doctor, so I have very little insight into what worries, issues and problems are important to pediatricians.
Clearly, a big challenge when marketing a B-to-B product to an audience of which you are not a member is getting inside the minds of your target prospects.
There are several things you can do to go about it:
- Subscribe to and read the trade publications covering the target prospect’s industry.
- Pay particular attention to the “letters to the editor” column. It is here you can see what’s on your prospects’ minds.
- Find and frequent the major blogs covering your prospect’s industry. Read the blog posts and study the comments. They can reveal hot button issues and where people stand on them.
- It’s not always easy to do, but if you can, interview a few customers. You can learn not only what’s important to them but which features of your product they value.
- If customers are not available for interviews, attend events where your prospects hang out. Eavesdrop on their conversations to get a sense of the language they use. When I first did this at a meeting of IT professionals, I was shocked to discover how much they relied on jargon in their conversations and eschewed plain speaking. This reduced my compulsion to always write copy to them in the simplest language possible, and I began to embrace the special terminology they used, so as to sound more like one of them.
Finding Buying Motives
The final major challenge B-to-B marketers face is figuring out how and why their customers make buying decisions.
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.