Expelling the Myths of B2B

If your focus is on B2B, then chances are your targeted market already receives tons of promotional email. Obviously, time is valuable for these people and, realistically, you probably have a total of five seconds or less after they open their email to capture their attention and interest.

When it comes to marketing to a business-to-business audience, the top response drivers may not be what you think. Conversely, what you may think of as tried-and-true principles may be killing your response simply due to overuse.

How do you make your promotional mail stand out from the crowd enough to get your audience to read on? Be prepared to take a break from what’s worked in the past… and also be prepared to rework the “same old, same old.”

In other words, get ready to expel a few old myths. Namely:

  • The copy must be short. Not so anymore, if it ever really was. More and more, B2B email marketers are seeing results that show longer, more detailed copy pulling a higher response than the “teaser” copy of yesterweek. (Frankly, quite a few consumer marketers are seeing this shift as well.) It doesn’t mean that email marketers across the board should automatically switch to longer copy. It DOES mean, however, that this one vital component of your promotions requires thorough testing before rolling out.

  • The email must carry the look and tone of a business letter. Does this mean that your email message should have a header and salutation, and should be signed by an appropriate party – a real, live person? Nope, not necessarily. There are some dynamic business promotions out there that break out of this mold. Just keep in mind that you are still “speaking” to a fellow human being and not a nameless, faceless company. It’s people who receive these emails. Make the message compelling… lively, if necessary. Heck, make it fun if you can fit the fun factor in and make it work.
  • Things that work for B2C don’t apply to B2B. Hardly. We’ve seen sweepstakes, free-gift offers, contests, Palm giveaways, and, more typically, consumer-oriented offers work fabulously well in the B2B arena. Again, you’re dealing with real people who have real needs, wants, and pain points – just like everyone else. Know your audience, and you’ll uncover where those points lie. You’ll then learn what types of offers will best appeal to them. This leads to the next myth…
  • Showcase how the offer can benefit the company. Benefits are great – load ’em into your message. But make sure that a good portion of them directly benefit the recipient. Whether it’s Joe Smith, purchasing agent for ABC Technologies, or John White, chief buying officer for a major dot-com, tell your audience how your offer is going to help them. Tell them how it will launch them into the stratosphere of their company or how it will get them kudos from their higher-ups or high fives from their officemates. Create those benefits so they appeal to their ambition (or lack thereof), their greed, or their perpetual quest for the brass ring.
  • Business is boring. This is probably the biggest myth of all. Just because you’re marketing high-tech thingamajigs, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all communications need to use the jargon of the industry or need to sound dull and dry. As creator of an email promotion, you can craft it as you want. If it fits your audience and that audience’s core desires, create something that is so far beyond boring that it becomes extraordinary. B2B needn’t be boring. In fact, just the opposite is true. Because this audience may be so used to receiving messages that carry a certain tone, you may just find that switching gears here gives your response rates a big lift. (Note: This doesn’t necessarily give you license to get campy or cheesy.)

Bottom line: Be different. Break away from that oh-so-comfortable tried and true. And remember that businesspeople are still people – and consumers – after all.

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