B2B is Still Human to Human
B2B marketing is full of complex information and intricate detail – and that’s why successful B2B marketing must be simple.
B2B is still Human to Human: Tips for Successful Customer Communication
A good B2B marketer knows the importance of providing lots of information to potential customers. And the value of making sure that information is easy to find (both from a web search standpoint and from a document structure standpoint).
However, this leads to marketing material that is so dry and difficult that potential customers turn away from it. To be clear – this doesn’t mean your spec sheets should be overhauled for the sake of being approachable and human, as spec sheets aren’t inherently marketing material – what’s at risk of being unapproachable are things like ads, social media marketing and brochures. This post is primarily concerned with creating human to human, conversational communication between brands and customers that helps make those customers feel as though they’re interacting with another individual, rather than a robot.
Point in fact, unwary B2B marketers might find that material they’ve created contains the right information but barely entices customers to act. Or, it’s the right content, but it’s being delivered at the wrong time. There are stages to a customer’s purchase process, which is why it’s so important that B2B marketers get it right.
What’s the disconnect?
As it turns out, people need relevant information shared in an approachable format. Successful B2B marketing is about having the right info and sharing that info the right way. Fortunately, being a person, you have the tools necessary to communicate B2B content that rings true for customers.
What does successful communication mean?
Successful communication occurs when B2B customers:
- Find the information they need
- Understand what information is being presented
- Feel like material is written for them, not at them
Successful communication through easy discovery
Creating easily-discoverable content must be a core tenet of all the B2B marketing work you do. This is a micro-to-macro effort. Let’s say you have a simple sell sheet that lists the features and benefits of product X.
Is information easy to find on a sell sheet? Are you cutting language that slows down a potential customer pressed for time? Is the sell sheet easy to locate online? Is your content buried deep on a webpage? Are you sharing it through social media when interest is high?
By doing the mental exercise of understanding how a new piece of marketing collateral is discovered and used, you’ll increase the likelihood that your customers will see it, use it and enjoy it.
Who’s doing it well?
JLG is doing a good job of making discovery of information easy on their website. A clear Resources section, human-language explanations of what users might find and effective search functionality all add up to a company that is going out of its way to make sure what they’ve created is easily found. Plus, it takes just two clicks from their home page to get to the resources page – so nothing is very far out of reach.
Successful communication through clear language
Content may be king, but in the world of B2B it’s more apt to say that complex data is king. Taking complex ideas and presenting them in a clear manner makes a big difference in engagement. The success in moving customers through the sales process comes in no small part from making it easy for the customer to do so. That means presenting information in easy-to-understand language, regardless of how complex the information is that you’re conveying.
Clear language in B2B means spending time to create sensible associations in your material. Share links that detail specific information only briefly mentioned in a blog post. Include a call-out box explaining terms or complex ideas in a printed piece of material. Clear language helps customers get past the challenge of understanding what makes your offer important and moves them closer to engagement with your company.
Who’s doing it well?
Solenis™, as part of their solutions section, shows off the value of clear language. Their line of business is particularly challenging and complex. To help customers more easily understand what they’re seeing, Solenis has provided links that explain less common terms or processes. They’ve also provided related resources, and an easy-to-find “submit a question” link for help specific to the page.
Successful communication through a sense of being understood
It’s possible to create an all-inclusive, data-rich piece of content that doesn’t resonate with customers. A mistake B2B marketers make is assuming that customers are only looking for information, rather than for a conversation. B2B is still human to human. It’s important to ensure anything your team creates is direct, pleasant and conversational.
This is a bit of a change from B2B marketing of the past. Past B2B material might have a single introductory paragraph followed by a host of charts and data tables. While those charts and tables still have their place, B2B is beginning to understand how important it is to be conversational and approachable. B2B customers make purchasing decisions like all people do – with a mix of objective review and gut-feeling. Creating material that achieves both objective and subjective success separates you from competitors.
Who’s doing it well?
YORK® released their YZ Magnetic Bearing Centrifugal Chiller last year, and the material produced to share the innovative chiller was conversational and confident. The YZ chiller brochure is a great example of how B2B can present complex information in a conversational, approachable way. Each innovative feature was introduced clearly, explained in clear terms and then backed up by data points.
Truly successful communication—whether it’s email, social media or a brochure—must succeed on many levels. But one of the most overlooked is successfully communicating on the human level. By making your B2B marketing material easy to find, easy to understand and customer-centric, you’ll find a higher level of engagement and interaction with customers throughout the sales process.
Matthew Kabik - Senior Copywriter
Matt helps B2B brands develop and tell compelling stories that connect with their audiences.