How do B2B decisions get made?
The short answer: B2B decisions get made after a lot of tea, biscuits, pricing, annual leave breaks, halted decisions and then restarts.
Anyone who thinks B2B is the slightly uglier, boring cousin of B2C is fooling themselves, B2B can be awkward, grumpy and unappeasable - but never boring.
Take any trend or hack on marketing and try to apply it as a B2B brand. You have to work twice as hard. While B2B influencers exist and B2B networks exist - it's nowhere near as easy as whipping up some campaigns for an eCommerce site and watching the orders come in - but then the returns can be so much more impactful when they do.
B2B has a long sales cycle
The sales cycle for me buying a Joules handbag is around 2 trips – max. I discuss with no one. I admire the look, read my reviews, and boom.
In contrast, when I have my hat on as the managing director of a company and I want to buy some kind of service, you won’t believe the fuss I go through. Price checking, research, calculations, asking my marketing community friends what they use… It can take me 3 months to buy a new piece of software that’s going to be right for my business and if I feel I have made the wrong decision, I’m seriously annoyed.
B2B decision making and aiding the customer through content should be all about avoiding that misery moment when someone feels they have been tricked into getting their credit card out. It feels like a more ethical space to do business in because there are less 'grey areas' to fall into - but it can be a little 'same old.'
Don't pump out more of the same
A study done in 2020 (in between baking banana bread?) showed that B2B decision-makers read an average of 13 pieces of content before buying. 13!
Did you expect more or less?
If you're doing one a month - you've fallen short, and chances are, your prospects are getting intel elsewhere.
If you’re not busy creating content of some kind – videos, sharp designs, research, surveys, guides – what are you doing?
No more home made whitepapers please
I'm actually very into whitepapers for B2B, and we have just completed three targeted ones to appeal to some specific areas where keywords indicate a lack of knowledge and an increase in interest. Guess how long they took?
2 months at best.
That's the prep, writing and research. Studies and reviewing these studies to check they aren't false. Surveys of customers and prospects and people in the general market. Results analysis. Graphics and branding. Testimonials and case studies. Proofing. More branding work and changes, and finally, prepping for release.
B2B content marketing is not producing a PDF thats 6 pages too long for the vague point it's trying to make.
You don't even need words.
One of our clients is a global B2B brand who are undertaking a relaunch. We’ve put them onto Instagram. Stories, reels, the lot.
Why? Well for one, 62% of CEOs are now present on at least one social media platform. Is it Instagram? Probably not.
But all too often B2B brands say that they sell to the CEO. Unless your market is SME, you probably don’t. You likely sell to an account manager, a marketing manager, a sales director – with sign off from the CEO.
The CEO is not attending your webinar. The CEO has no idea what it’s like to have the problem you solve – and may have last created their own report back in 2005.
Just targeting CEO’s is expensive and crowded.
It also presumes that they work in a vacuum – never asking a daughter or a son, a PA or a team to advice them, or to simply spot something as they go about life.
Decision makers aren’t sat in Dullsville, BoringTown
Who signs your cheque may not fit your imagined blue print of a boss in a pinstripe two piece with his feet on the desk. You might have someone like me, a little cheery, a bit silly, who is more likely to spend 2 hours on Instagram than downloading anything to do with work.
If you can squeeze in that awareness of your brand in a likeable, natural way, you’re playing the long game.
Target your prospect’s specific pain point and reestablish your authority. Add in some humour, inject a relatable anecdote and ask yourself ‘would I like this?’
- Elaine Keep