I’ve been reading a (good) book on branding – but, as is typical of what I’ve come to expect, you’d think branding only happened in the B2C space, because all the examples so far are B2C. (Maybe at some point they’ll tell me about Intel, a B2B company, leapfrogging their buyers to brand directly to the customer, essentially using a B2C tactic… which seems to be the one and only B2B branding story you hear in the popular business press.) Have you looked at the program for a general marketing conference lately? Anything seem targeted directly at you? No? I’m not surprised to hear that.
For a B2B marketer or strategist, sometimes it’s like we’re invisible. So often we remain confined to industry-specific resources or events where at least we know we will learn more about, say, oilfield services or aerospace or logistics services or whatever industry we’re working in. For those of us with a cross-industry orientation, though, this is a fractured way to learn. These are the kinds of issues that limit the growth and sophistication of B2B marketing as a function.
So, since Google Translate doesn’t yet exist for B2C to B2B, what to do? Some ideas:
- Convert B2C ideas to work in your B2B context. (You are in all likelihood doing this one already.) Even if the end goals are different – in B2C you are probably more interested in brand awareness and shelf space, whereas in the B2B space you are going to be focused on lead generation – the strategies might still be similar.
- Ruthlessly discard whatever doesn’t apply, based on the fundamentals of the B2B realities. For instance, much of the buzz about the latest social media trend is probably irrelevant to most in B2B - as of this writing, that would be Pinterest, and that’s probably still not relevant even to most in B2C outside certain industries (tech, design, fashion).
- Be open to porting over new ideas. This can be in direct opposition to the point above. (This may explain why I wind up reading so much online.) You just never know what might have relevance, and casting a fairly wide net in terms of tactics and approaches can be beneficial. For instance, I was recently speaking with someone in the promotional products industry, where visual presentation is critical to creating interest among clients, and it occurred to me that this is where Pinterest might be a great B2B marketing innovation.
- Network with other B2B marketers! Especially if you’re in a smaller company, often you are in a small department, or you are the department. It’s so important to find ways to get out there and share stories with others who understand the challenges of marketing in the B2B space – and not necessarily your own industry, either.
- Write it yourself. Sometimes you just won’t find a go-to source online or elsewhere, no matter what you do. Sometimes you just have to sit down and systematically capture what you already know to be true about your situation – you’ll be happy you did, the next time you have to set up a lead generation program or social media strategy. (Mezzanine is working on writing a book on B2B marketing, in fact, for just this reason – for us to have it all in one place, and to be able to share our expertise with others.)
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