I’m always struck by B-to-B marketers’ focus on just selling products when, in fact, customers want to buy solutions. In B-to-B, most often, the products sold require knowledge to make them work. Computers need to be installed, networked, made secure, backed up, among a host of other things. Industrial supplies often are used in manufacturing processes. Even office supplies aren’t simple anymore. (When was the last time you bought and installed a new PC printer?)
Customers don’t want to just buy your products; they want to buy your products to use in a process and achieve a result. Often, the cost of not having your products is far greater than the cost of having them. Similarly, the cost of not having the application knowledge that goes with your products is far greater than the cost of the product being purchased. To be successful, B-to-B marketers must shift from sellers of products to “partners in the process,” committed to the end result.
There’s a great deal of product and application knowledge in your files and in the heads of your experienced people. The trick is presenting it in a usable form to the customer when and where he wants it.
Advancing technology has helped make this a whole lot easier. One ideal example is the advent of online video, in particular YouTube. B-to-B customers are now the MTV generation of 20 years ago. They’ve grown up, but instant information is still the form they prefer. They no longer want to read endless catalog pages or manuals to find out what they want. They much prefer video or some other form of 3-D communication. Therefore, we’re seeing video presentations of our knowledge and intelligence rise in marketing importance.
For a company that gets it, take a look at www.globalindustrial.com. Its product videos communicate more in less than a minute than any catalog page ever could. More importantly, you gain an understanding of the people/company you’re buying from.
Another site worth taking a look at is the HR Creations channel on YouTube. This channel/brand, owned by Everglades Direct (parent of G.Neil and HRdirect), promotes HR compliance products and services on YouTube. (If you thought YouTube was just for funny home videos, take another look! You, too, can have your own private channel on YouTube targeted at your B-to-B market segments.)
In another couple of years your Web site will be passé if it doesn’t offer educational videos on all your major products. They don’t have to be high-quality productions, but they must communicate the features and benefits of your offering quickly and succinctly, as well as your application knowledge. Most importantly, such communication tools allow B-to-B marketers to be an important part of the process of how customers use their products. Move away from “just selling products” to providing real value.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.