In a technical B2B environment more than anywhere else, your prospects are pretty much guaranteed to be professionally trained skeptics.
Which makes trying to convince them to buy what you’re selling extremely difficult. Like a shark smelling blood across miles of ocean, your audience can tell when you’re trying to sell something within the first few seconds of conversation.
Such resistance leads many business leaders in science and technology to think branding and marketing are a waste of time and money. It’s kind of like corporate small talk. Everyone does it because they feel like they have to, but no one is really taking it seriously.
But there are greater possibilities available to those who are willing to put in the effort. And while it is true that you can find tons of examples of laughable B2B technical marketing, it’s usually because it employs tactics that are more suited to consumer-facing companies.
And you probably know by now that what works for the likes of Budweiser, McDonald’s, or General Motors won’t work for you as you try to sell to a bunch of skeptical scientists and engineers.
B2B technical branding vs. consumer branding
Marketing and branding in the consumer world is usually about building desire to buy. As in, right now.
B2B technical branding and marketing can also be thought of as building desire, but the mistake technical companies often make is in trying to build the desire to “buy now” like their B2C counterparts.
With a consumer brand, a buyer may be able to complete the entire purchase process without ever interacting with anyone from your company. They may interact with retail staff or front-line customer support, but they certainly won’t be able to talk directly to an applications engineer or troubleshoot directly with someone in R&D.
As you are probably painfully aware, the selling process for technical B2B is rarely so simple. Especially in larger organizations where not only must you sell to the individual who may be interested in your product, you also have to convince management, the purchasing department, manufacturing, etc. There are often many gates and checkpoints through which you must pass before your product or service earns the approval of everyone involved.
Thus your goal with technical marketing is not to convince someone to “buy now.” Such tactics will only show your prospects that you don’t understand their business or what it really takes to make a solution work for them.
Instead, your goal when marketing and branding your technical company should be to facilitate steady, incremental movement through the buying process, all the way from initial prospecting through to closed sale, and even beyond. You are still building desire like your B2C counterparts, but you are doing so in a much more controlled and deliberate manner, with the goal of moving a prospect from one stage to another.
B2B business development
Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships. — Scott Pollack
Ah, business development. That fuzzy term that everyone pretends to understand when they see it on your business card, but in reality may as well refer to the dancing of unicorns.
You can find many definitions of business development, but for the sake of argument, let’s think of it as simply all of the activities that facilitate growth of the business. This naturally includes sales development activities, but it can also include strategic partnerships, customer support, and much more.
It may also be helpful to think of business development as everything that is not related to day-to-day operations of the business, such as manufacturing, finance, human resources, etc.
How branding and marketing relate to business development
For the technical B2B enterprise, branding and marketing are tools that augment, boost, or streamline every aspect of business development as opposed to strictly trying to convince people to buy.
And since both sales and business development for a technical company are extremely relationship focused, your goals when marketing and branding your company should be to educate and build trust in order to strengthen those relationships.
When you start to think about all the ways in which branding, marketing, communications, etc. can influence these processes and relationships, the implications are pretty staggering.
Branding and marketing don’t work for science and technology like they do for consumer-facing companies. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work at all; in fact, we can start to see how they play a huge role in capturing and retaining new business for your technical B2B company.
In future articles, we will take a deeper dive into the mechanics of branding and positioning and the exact steps you can take to make sure they support your business development efforts.
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