Does this sound familiar to the way you market your products?
• Describe what the product does
• Show how it works
• List how it benefits customers
• Explain why it’s better than other solutions
I can understand why this list might: it’s a way to differentiate your product; it can help demonstrate a deep level of expertise; you’re rightfully proud of what you’ve accomplished and believe others will be impressed as well. While each of these may be an important part of promoting your product — a product that may be complex or require a bit of explanation to fully understand it — these reasons are proof points, not selling points. The selling point is the business value your product offers. Which leads to the obvious question — how should you sell your product?
The first thing to do is to get rid of the notion that technology products require an approach that’s different from other products. It doesn’t matter if we’re buying a box of cereal, a car, or the latest technological innovation, we’re all consumers — whether it’s B2C or B2B. My article, What if Tech Companies Sold Cars Instead, goes into this in more detail. And as consumers, what we want first and foremost is to have our needs addressed, our problems solved, or a better way to accomplish something. We’re less interested (at least initially) in the technology and how it works because in the end, it’s what it can do for us, not how it does it that will sway our decision making.
For those who argue that B2B and B2C marketing are different from each other, my recent article, B2Me — A New Hybrid Consumer Is In The Driver’s Seat shows that over the last several years, the attitudes, needs and demands of B2C and B2B consumers have been merging. New research* indicates that consumers:
• have an increased expectation of more personalized service from the companies selling to them
• want the kind of information that helps them decide if solution best meets their needs
• are looking for more data-driven insights to better inform their decisions
It’s important to highlight the business case for your product, not make it harder for a prospect to find it, because no matter how impressed they might be with the technology behind your solution, they won’t buy it if won’t help them. What your product does, how it does it, and why it’s better than other solutions follows the business case because it supports the validity of your claim.
One of companies we work with had followed a technology-first approach to their marketing until about a year ago when a new VP of Marketing came on board.** He decided that they would highlight the business case for their product — and make it both relevant and understandable to every decision-maker in the process, all the way up to the CEO level. Starting with marketing materials that emphasized the business benefits, prospects were also given the opportunity to use the product free for a period of time (approximately 30 days). This was followed by a brief summary, which included data collected from using the product.
Now to be fair, theirs is a product that can be introduced into a workspace without too much difficulty, and it’s also possible to get data and see the benefits of their product in a relatively short period of time. But by explaining how their product can benefit a company in real business terms and following it up with data demonstrating its effectiveness — the results have been nothing short of spectacular: to date, the conversion rate from prospect to customer is 100%.
By making the business case for their product and then showing how technology could make it possible, the process was more relevant and insightful to their prospects, and ultimately more successful for my client.
*Source: B2B And B2C Companies Face Similar Hurdles With Complex Buyer Journeys, Forrester Research, Inc., May 2019
**In order to preserve confidentiality and competitive advantage, the company’s name or any description, other than to say that it is in a growing technology market that caters to a wide range of companies and industries that depend on the performance and reliability of the kinds of products that this company offers.