A common assumption in B2B marketing—particularly so in the building materials industry—is that because you’re reaching out to a business you don’t need to be “creative.” Or different. And certainly not fun.
Just inform the target audience that you’ve been in business for 50 years, you have what they need, your prices are fair—and the orders will come. Right?
Not in today’s competitive, cinch-this-belt-any-tighter-and-I’ll-stop-breathing market. The simple truth: boring brands don’t spring to mind first when there’s a need. Brands without a clear personality and voice, who aren’t saying anything different or making a difference are not seen, heard or felt. The ones that do have something to talk about, and do so in a way that resonates, create curiosity. They’re perceived as dynamic, relevant and authoritative. And, dare I say it, maybe even fun!
So how do you become the interesting brand? Create curiosity? Become so compelling that customers and prospects are always eager to see what you’ll say or do next?
For starters, say and do things regularly.
Make an introduction – to a thought leader, a mindset or a new product or service. Share something that could possibly change the way they do business or live their life. Issue special offers or bundles on a monthly basis. Hold product demos at your trade shows at regularly scheduled times (give them a heads up in advance). Communicate with your target audience at least once a month—via e-mail, snail mail, social media or blog. In other words, get on their radar and stay there.
Don’t be afraid to shift to customer-centered advertising.
Instead of talking about the company behind the product, focus on the benefit to the customer. Address their pain points. Connect with your reader emotionally—or in an unexpected way. Remember, you don’t have to show your entire hand in each ad either. Create curiosity by sharing bite-sized nuggets. A taste, if you will. Also, put away that “Make My Logo Bigger Cream” and keep your logo/branding smaller and in a supporting role. I know, I know, but it’s not about YOU.
Leave a popcorn trail of information.
Be THE source for useful information about the building materials you make or sell and the stories around them. Survey your customers about a hot topic and share the results. Produce a video or slide show demonstrating how to use a new product in a creative way. Name and brand every “kernel” appropriately, so that all searches/links/SEO lead back to you. This can also aid in crafting better site content (aka: mapping it to the buying cycle).
Dispense this information via your e-newsletter or blog or social media channels, then archive it on your website in an organized way that’s easy to navigate. Soon you’ll have a library of information your customers want and need—one they’ll return to again and again.
Give it a name.
Introducing a new product? Don’t just identify it: urethane resin flexible mouldings. Give it an identity: Valuflex™. (Incidentally, this moulding from EL & EL Wood Products was used by a contractor in my own home, and I love the results. Would I have remembered “urethane resin flexible moulding” and mentioned it here? Probably not.)
Products aren’t the only nameable aspects of your brand. Instead of “July’s Special Offer,” try something like “July’s Things-You-Can’t- Live-Without Sales Event.” Your blog, e-newsletter, and the online library mentioned above could also benefit from memorable, brand-centric names. Which is more memorable, “our eNewsletter” or “Freshly Squeezed”?
Use social media to leak the story.
Remember that new product you’re about to introduce? The one with the intriguing and memorable name? Pique curiosity before the launch with a teaserly Tweet such as: “Coming October 1st … meet the hardest working lubricant in the industry.” Closer to launch, post photos of the product on your Facebook and Pinterest pages. Use LinkedIn to conduct a poll related to the product, then share the results. Be sure to tie these posts to specific landing pages on your site for tracking and metrics.
Remember, there are people like you and me behind those businesses you’re marketing to—people who respond to brand messages on an intellectual and emotional level. Keep them interested (read: curious) and they’ll keep you top of mind.