I’ll start by describing what business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications do. Broadly, they are the means by which a business promotes the sale of its product or service to other companies who need that product or service in the course of their own business operations.
B2B marketing communications range from advertisements and direct-mail packages to white papers, case studies, emails and the company’s website. And press releases.
They underpin direct sales by seeking to generate ‘leads’ (ie enquiries arising from the B2B marketing material) that the company’s sales representatives can then pursue to turn the ‘lead’ into a purchase.
There is an important characteristic of B2B marketing that distinguishes it from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, as occurs in the retail trade. That is the importance of informing and educating the prospective business purchaser (‘the prospect”) about the product rather than constructing a sales pitch that relies on hyperbole.
Why the distinction? Well, your business prospect will not be persuaded by a sales headline such as, “The Acme water pump would have solved all Noah’s problems.” If the pump is a component in the prospect’s own product then you can rest assured he or she knows just as much about its required features as you do, and what level of performance to expect.
There are also matters such as the size of expenditure likely to be involved, and that business purchases are always subject to budget considerations that are usually decided upon by more than one individual in the prospect’s company.
So you need to address the business prospect on level terms. You need to impress him or her with accurate, detailed technical information that can be backed-up:
- First, explain to the prospect the purpose the product will serve and what problems it will solve.
- Next, you must point out the advantages and benefits the product offers, thus improving business performance and (equally important) making the prospect more effective. (See more below).
- Then describe in detail the product's features (ie what it's made of and how it works) in order to explain how your product manages to solve problems better than the competition.
- Finally, persuade the business prospect of what you say by proof — test results, reviews, testimonials by customers.
This question of evidence to support your claims for the product or service is frequently overlooked in the promotion exercise. The more factual data you can produce to verify the merits and qualities of your product, the greater your Company’s credibility and the more likely your business prospect will be persuaded to consider a purchase.
Why Copywriting is the Key to Business Marketing
The Dual Personality of the Business Buyer
Let’s say, for instance, that you are the Warehouse Manager of a medium-sized wholesale distribution business. You are sitting at your desk. The company MD has agreed a budget for the purchase of a fleet of new forklift trucks in the warehouse. You have been assigned the task of presenting three alternative vehicle-types to the Finance Director, with a recommendation for one of them.
What are the thoughts going through your head? What are the problems, requirements and preferences associated with running the warehouse that come to play when you consider this new acquisition?
To begin with, I imagine that you will approach the matter from both the company’s view point and from your own. You will have business priorities and personal priorities, each of which you will apply when considering the pros and cons of any particular vehicle model.
Your first concern, of course, will be to ensure the company benefits from the purchase. (After all, your future within the company will probably depend on it.) But you will also be seeking opportunities to either improve your own efficiency or to make your duties less onerous.
For instance, you may not recommend a forklift that is priced attractively and has an improved load-bearing capacity if it is less easy to handle than the existing forklifts or if your drivers require lengthy retraining. These latter factors will impinge on your operating budget, and you will also have to placate your disgruntled warehouse staff.
In this sense, you possess a dual personality — you will look to ensure the purchase of new the equipment produces a balance of benefits to both your employer and to yourself as manager.
This essential piece of perceptive understanding is not widely recognised. That is why only a well-trained copywriter is capable of preparing promotional business material that is effectively persuasive.
To overlook the split-mindset of the business buyer, by focusing on a product’s benefits to the company alone, means that only half of the concerns that prey on the buyer’s mind will have been addressed. Such an oversight might mean the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity.
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