Do You Have This Costly Misconception About B2B Buyers?

cartoon of b2b buyer listening to little angel and devil"There’s really no difference between writing for consumers (B2C) and writing for B2B buyers."

I was stunned as I read those words, written in a blog post by a professional copywriter!

Her viewpoint was that: "In the end, it’s all just selling."

That’s like saying “There’s no real difference between carnivores and vegetarians; in the end it’s all just feeding.”

Really? Go ahead and try your theory out in the real world. You may get a meat-eater to eat a garden salad every now and then (not too happily); you’ll probably have even less success serving up a filet mignon to a herbivore. Overall, however, you won’t make either one very happy, and you’ll have a lot of wasted leftovers.

When you’re writing for B2B buyers -- whether it’s direct response or content marketing -- you have to recognize that they come at it with very different concerns than consumers do. Master Copywriter Bob Bly describes 6 key differences:

  1. The business buyer wants to buy.
  2. The business buyer is sophisticated.
  3. The business buyer is an information seeker who will read a lot of copy.
  4. Business-to-business marketing involves a multistep buying process.
  5. The buying decision is frequently made by a committee, and not by an individual.
  6. Business products are generally more complex than consumer products.

I could write a long blog on each of these points (maybe one day I will). But suffice to say, you’re not going to be very successful if you fail to recognize these fundamental differences.

The B2B buyer is rarely impulsive; she’s not spending her own money, and there can be a lot riding on the final decision.

But here’s where many B2B marketers adopt a very costly misconception; one that can be the kiss of mediocrity on their marketing copy.

Don’t Make This Mistake!

Many wrongly assume that because B2B buyers are buying on behalf of their company, they do so as some kind of corporate automaton, devoid of any personal motive. That they’re just unemotionally weighing the pros and cons, hitting the keys of a calculator, and their own opinions don’t enter into it.

Wrong! Terribly wrong.

When writing B2B copy you must take into account what Steve Slaunwhite refers to as “the business buyer’s ‘split-personality’”. Their company’s needs are definitely at the forefront of their mind, but don’t miss the fact that they also have personal needs and concerns tugging at them. They can include any or many of the following:

  • To avoid being the one to make a costly mistake. (“This new solution may be cheaper than the one we currently have, but what if it fails?” They may choose the status quo over personal risk.)
  • To look good in front of their superiors.
  • To prove themselves worthy of promotion.
  • To reduce their workload.
  • To make their job easier.
  • To save them time.
  • To please their co-workers.
  • To make budget, with room to spare for other purchases.
  • To have an easier buying process than your competitor’s solution.
  • To get associated perks. (All things being otherwise equal, wouldn’t you buy the copier paper that has a free sleeve of golf balls in every box?)

And the list goes on. ALL B2B buyers have multiple motivations, both professional and personal.

So, you want to do 3 things in your B2B marketing pieces:

1. First address the needs of the buyer’s company.

You need to sell your product or service as the best solution for them. This is absolutely basic, and if you fail to do this you’ll never get any further with your prospect. It will require you to use all the copywriter’s regular skills of persuasion.

2. Then address the personal concerns of the buyer.

You have to uncover these by studying your typical target prospect. Are you writing for CMO’s? They have a different set of typical concerns than CFO’s do. As you build your buyer persona you need to think through personal as well as professional traits.

3. Finally, give B2B buyers everything they need to justify their decision to others.

If you do your job well, you can lead your prospect to prefer your solution both as a good business proposition, and also as the one that connects with their personal concerns. Now all you have to do is give them what they need to make it easy for them to sell it to their colleagues and superiors. This may be a particular piece of marketing collateral that answers objections, or it may be a guarantee, or something else.

Whatever you do, don’t imagine B2B buyers through this one dimensional lens -- “all business” and no other motives. Master the art of writing for the split personality and you will be handsomely rewarded with success.

 

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