A few rules that should guide any modern B2B marketing department:
1. Plan to compete with feature parity
There are lots of examples of companies with well-insulated technological advantages. But most of the time, a feature or two is only unique for four to six months.
In a world of feature parity, what are you really competing on? Price or something less tangible? For the most successful companies, it’s the latter.
2. Purchase decisions are rationalized decisions
We like to think that B2B decisions are rational purchases. But really they’re emotional purchases made by individuals, and later rationalized.
You can still win if you don’t emotionally connect, but you have to be outstanding because your competitors are being given the benefit of the doubt.
3. Business is consumerized
It used to be that people used different things at work and at home. No longer. Now they use Facebook at work and Microsoft Excel at home, and their iPhone wherever they are. B2B companies need to learn lessons from B2C companies and make products that offer great customer experiences, and use marketing that appeals to business buyers as individuals.
4. Tell a story
It’s no surprise: people connect to stories. What’s your story? Why were you founded and what big problems are you solving?
5. Looks aren’t everything, but they are a leading indicator
Your mom loves you regardless of what you wear, but the rest of us judge. If you look sloppy or amateur, what does that indicate about your product? Being put together, with every detail in place doesn’t make you detail oriented, but it is an indicator.
Same thing with your company. If your marketing material is sloppy, your work is probably sloppy. If it’s not, you had better be prepared to jump through hoops to prove it.
6. Revenge of the nerds (metrics matter)
All this emotional stuff doesn’t mean that metrics don’t matter. They matter more than ever. Now you can track everything, so do!
7. The customers are in control
Old marketing was about driving prospects through your sales process. Modern marketing is about accompanying prospects as they drive themselves through their own process.
It’s not about convincing someone that your product is the right one for them, it’s about being the right product for them, and letting them control the decision.