B2B marketing: the risks of playing it safe

B2B marketing communications that plays it safe ruffles no feathers and rarely ends careers. Nor does it get noticed, differentiate, or deliver much in return. Especially in a global B2B marketplace, middle-of-the-road communicators will get overtaken by competitors who may not be as good at product development, but are better at establishing a meaningful connection with their buying centres.

As the availability of content increases everywhere we look, so do the demands on our attention. Our tolerance for lacklustre communication – and poor brand experiences – is already low. To win in a complex and crowded B2B space, you need to set your bar high.

The cost of unremarkable communication

Today, B2B buyers conduct 70% of their research online and will deselect or completely overlook brands that seem irrelevant or untrustworthy. Therefore, it is crucial for everyone in the C-suite to consider the risks of playing it safe and to invest in creative and effective B2B marketing strategies that can deliver real results. Beyond poor bang for the marketing buck, inconspicuous campaigns drain organisational resources and dilute your brand position.

In addition, many B2B organisations have become very good at refining their ‘digital brand experience’, which means the arena in which you compete for attention and stand out has never been tougher (for more on this, check out our blog on the digital brand experience).

If you want buyers to find your information and develop a preference for your solutions, you must meet them when and where they are looking for answers. To get on their purchasing radar at all, you must first be noticed. Placing some lukewarm ads in the industry’s hottest trade magazine will no longer do the trick. Simple awareness is not enough; to be effective you must instil trust in order to influence purchasing decisions.

It’s great that you’ve progressed from simply talking about your product features to considering customer benefits, and it’s wonderful that you, too, are customer-centric. But, to be honest, these days that’s what they all say.

To get noticed, you need creativity fueled by insight

In a space dominated by engineers and complex offerings, creativity is often overlooked in B2B content marketing. After 40 years as a B2B marketing agency, Cross-Border Communications has seen time and time again that this is an effective way to not only drive engagement, but also to form a deeper connection with your audience that influences their decisions at critical stages in the buying journey.

However, the ‘big idea’ alone is never enough. When combined with customer insight that shows an understanding of your audience’s pains and the value of your offering, your communications will pop. But before you start popping, do some homework to ensure your insights and messages are right on target.

1. Fine-tune your value proposition: This fundamental exercise clarifies what sets you apart from other players in the market. Done right, it’s neither easy nor a ‘one and done’ deal, and you should continue to challenge your value proposition as audience needs change. Creativity matters here, too. It could be that you already have a solid understanding of your value proposition but just haven’t found an inventive way to convey it.

2. Get your story straight: Customer insight is the first key to effective communication, and creativity is the second. But remember, while you can never really have too much insight, when it comes to words and images, sometimes less is more. Just as product designers keep paring the inessential away, you need to cut through all the noise to be crystal clear in your value proposition, messaging, and narrative. Creativity helps frame your value add so you speak to both the rational and emotional sides of your target groups.

3. Find a way to stand out: If you’ve done the work to fine-tune your value proposition, you should have a good idea about what makes you different. However, to truly stand out, don’t forget that it’s not just what you say but how you say it. Outstanding creative concepts ensure relevance and act as the foundation for your brand activation. They will get you noticed and help to nurture prospects along the customer journey through reinforcement of key messaging.

CBC blog link: Finding b2b brand relevance

Consistency builds trust

Lastly, it’s worth saying that trusted brands are consistent brands. Their products and services dependably deliver the value that they promise, and their marketing communication resonates reliably with internal and external stakeholders at every step of the buying process.

When everyone from headquarters to subsidiaries, agents, distributors, and dealers consistently send the same brand messages, it builds confidence in those that hear them. And when everyone in sales and customer support gets it because we made sure to include them, they become invaluable ambassadors as well as trusted touchpoints.

If you want to know more about how insight and creativity can help you to consistently cut through the clutter, let’s talk. Give Ralph Krøyer, Managing Director of CBC, a call on +45 35 25 01 75 or email him directly at rk@cbc.dk.

In the meantime, if you would like a little inspiration from the results we’ve achieved for similar businesses to yours, take a look at our work section.