It is often assumed that B2B and B2C are two different worlds. This is based upon the observation that people who buy goods for themselves are acting in a different way than people who purchase products or services for their company. Hence, marketing and sales people need a different skill mix.
This is (at least partly) true – but there’s also a lot that B2B storytellers can learn from their B2C peers…
Segment your audience. There’s no one-size-fits-all presentation pitch that will suit all possible listeners. You won’t sell the same products to a 76 and a 16 year-old consumer. Neither can you charm an engineer and a company purchaser with exactly the same value proposition.
Always make sure you know your target audience and its needs before you start preparing your story and your visuals.
The one you address is not always the one who buys. There are many examples in B2C marketing, such as selling mobile minutes to teenagers (Dad pays…) or advertising the unique features of a car (Mom decides…).
The most attentive listeners (or the most active question askers) in the room are often not always the ones who own the budget. Try to identify upfront who has the real decision power and draw a power-map of your audience.
Decision making is often emotion-based. Another misconception is that business people behave rationally and pragmatic, and that –unlike consumers, who (sometimes) tend to make buying decisions based upon impulse, emotion, or even the love for a certain brand– they (always) go for the highest-tech or lowest-price proposition. Quoting Seth Godin’s blog: some of them “might be willing to look at the specs, but they really don’t understand them enough to care.”
A 2012 Upshot study shows the role and the value of emotion in B2B marketing. You can influence decision-making by creating an emotional connection with your audience. Use inspiring visuals, stories, anecdotes and real-life examples… it can make a difference.
Value is in the eyes of the beholder. Two persons may have a completely different perception about the ‘value’ of a hamburger menu or a Michelin-rated restaurant. It’s not always the price/quality ratio that makes the difference.
De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum (there’s no arguing about tastes and colors). Know and understand the WIIFM for your audience members and try to fit your value proposition to their expectations.
The medium supports the message. Consumer marketers use repetition and imagery to capture the public’s attention, create interest for their products and reinforce their brands.
In your business presentations, apply pause-and-repeat techniques and frequently summarize your key points. And in this era of transmedia storytelling, don’t stick to static imagery: use sound bites, video clips and live demonstrations to add pizzazz to your message.
So, next time you present to a group of business people, take a step back and think of them as a collection of everyday consumers. You may get some surprisingly positive reactions…