B2C trend in B2B marketing: sell benefits not features
Ask any company serving both private and business customers about the difference in marketing approach between those two audiences, and chances are there are two completely different marketing plans. From relatively small companies to multinationals, almost every entrepreneur seems convinced that you approach business customers differently than private ones. This while practice shows that the differences between B2B and B2C are becoming smaller and smaller and business customers are increasingly thinking like consumers. What does that mean for B2B marketing?
Sell benefits, not features
A persistent misconception in the B2B marketing domain is the assumption that buyers do not need to be convinced, or hardly ever, of customer benefits. When we sell products to consumers, the average entrepreneur knows all too well how product features can be translated into customer benefits and how these can best be presented to such a customer. It has long been the case for the B2B market that as long as the buyer does not use the product, the benefits associated with that product do not matter. B2B marketing focused on speed, reliability and a good business relationship.
Those values are still vital, but the reality today is that buyers too are increasingly starting to think like consumers. This is partly because their customers are becoming better informed – a trend that has been visible in the marketing world for about fifteen years – and the emphasis for many entrepreneurs is increasingly on service, service provision and information provision. And that naturally has an impact on the need that such an entrepreneur has towards his suppliers and contact persons.
B2B Marketing in the Construction Industry
All in all, if you've had a lot of business customers for years, chances are your B2B marketing has become obsolete over time. You will have to attune this to the modern marketing landscape, to prevent you from being for real behind the scenes. How you can go about this is best illustrated with an example; in this case the construction sector.
Traditional B2B marketing would dictate that a supplier in the construction industry should primarily ensure that all different types of building materials are widely available, quickly available and of good quality. Traditionally, this results in a website full of tables with available materials, associated properties and rates.
For example, how do you sell duplex steel?
In today's world you can't get away with such a traditional approach. As a supplier you will have to help your customer to sell the right building materials. A recent development in the construction sector is the improvement of duplex handle, a high-quality stainless steel. It is an expensive, but qualitatively superior building material that does not wear, does not rust, expands little and is very strong. Rather than listing those features, a steel supplier might choose to make the customer benefits of duplex steel visible to buyers in a creative, visual way. Show buyers what duplex steel has meant in a positive way for an end user. Like beer: duplex steel is ideally suited for brewing kettles (because duplex steel can withstand stress corrosion cracking well). Or building efficient bridges (because duplex steel is stronger so less steel is needed).
You sell duplex steel faster by rating beer and bridges – exactly the things your customers are doing – than when you are talking about the grade or the megapascal (MPa). Such a purchaser is then assisted in informing his own customers and ultimately putting the product on the market. By pointing out this as a producer – what does purchasing this product mean for your customers, and therefore for your marketing and turnover – you lift your B2B marketing to a higher level.