3 Reasons B-to-B Marketing Is Damn Hard
More often, B-to-B marketing professionals have to sell technical products to audiences they don’t know much about.
For instance, a publisher hired me to write a direct mail package selling subscriptions to a newsletter for pediatricians. I quickly realized I had no idea what was important to pediatricians or what they worried about. My solution was to interview a few pediatricians, and I learned that, contrary to what I was certain was correct, not all pediatricians love kids as I do.
Joe Sacco, a Madison Avenue veteran, was assigned to write ads selling insulin injection needles to diabetics. Not being a diabetic, Joe talked to diabetics. To his surprise, the most sought-after quality in diabetes needles was sharpness.
You may think this makes no sense, because you probably equate sharpness with pain. But if you have ever injected medicine with a needle yourself, as I have, you know that it is the sharp needles that go in easily and with minimal pain; the dull ones are difficult to insert and hurt.
3. Buying Process
With consumer marketing, selling is fairly straightforward: You advertise to the consumer, and she either buys or doesn’t buy.
But the B-to-B buying process is more complicated. In certain industries, B-to-B prospects buy products from dealers, distributors or manufacturer’s reps, and not direct from the manufacturer. So the question becomes whether to advertise to the end-user directly, to the dealer, or to another distribution channel.
When advertising directly to the end-user, who in the organization should you sell to? The answer is not always clear. For instance, for a short time I sold training programs to manufacturing companies. You would think that targeting the training director would be the way to go, but it wasn’t. Training and HR directors were essentially order-takers: If someone in the company asked for a particular type of training, the directors would go out and find a vendor. But when there was no request in front of them, they had no interest.
Turns out, it’s better to sell training to the line manager in charge of manufacturing, quality control or any other function that could benefit from training. If you want to sell sales training, and can prove that your education has increased sales for others, the training director will likely be indifferent, but the sales manager may very well buy — even though prior to your contact he wasn’t looking.
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.