How to Stay on Santa’s B2B “Nice” List

Happy Holidays! Now that we’ve got Thanksgiving behind us, we’re officially at that special time of year that’s all about goodwill, cheer and shopping for gifts. Aside from pumpkin spiced lattes, we’ll receive tons of personalized emails, delivering personalized offers & discounts based on our individual attributes. As each season passes, I’m more and more impressed with the detail included within the world of B2C outreach. It’s no surprise that B2B marketers want to follow that example. But what is surprising is that many B2B organizations don’t realize the differences that need to be considered.

Given B2B is entering the home stretch of 2015 marketing planning, let’s investigate why those B2C emails should influence how you stuff your stockings- but not how you do your B2B marketing.

Demographic Bandwagons

With the rise of social media, everyone is jumping on the persona advertising bandwagon. “We can target individual attributes!” “We know what they like!” Not only is social media “sexy,” but companies like Facebook are finally starting to figure out how to make their advertising clients more money. On top of that, sharing viral content around products, holiday wish lists, and interests just make sense in the world of B2C (no matter how much you may dislike your newsfeed this time of year).

However, if you work in B2B, you may want to think twice about where priorities of your ad buys, personalized content, and relationships stand. It’s easy to convince an individual to buy the latest and greatest in wearable tech online, but not so easy to sell a new professional partnership to a business. That’s because you need to make sure that these products or partnerships are actually right for the target account. While many people may want to read your white papers, they’re usually doing so for the value they bring to their employer.

Your Priority: Prospect Accounts

The most successful employees put the needs of their organization first. If you’re successfully selling to B2B companies, you’re likely doing the same thing: putting the needs of your prospects’ businesses first. When delivering personalized content, it’s crucial that you maintain a focus on the target account. This is because demographics and personas do not directly represent the buyer the same way they do in B2C.

By focusing on individuals and their attributes, rather than targeting accounts themselves, many will waste a tremendous amount of time, money, and worst of all – resources.

Creative Content: Idealism v. Reality

It’s easy to see why. Targeting five to 20 industries with relevant creative content is a great place to start personalization initiatives. You probably already have the content, agility/targeting on the website can be purchased without breaking the bank, and tracking success can be done within existing Analytics. Scaling with time is also easy, as you can increase personalization by targeting 100-200 specific accounts within those industries.

In contrast, think about the creative assets necessary to target 10 personas across those same 100-200 companies. That’s 1,000-2,000+ variations of creative assets delivered across your digital channels. Pursuing such will not only swamp/irritate your creative team, it will limit your ability to scale. There is a better way.

Relationships matter

It’s more effective and efficient to engage your accounts directly. As a wise boss once told me, “Don’t show up and throw up.” You don’t need to personalize content for every individual under the sun. Prospects want to learn how you align with their business. If you’re selling B2B, your marketing efforts should reflect that strategy. Provide account-based marketing that targets industries and companies with well-aligned products and services. It’s engaging, it’s scalable, and it’s effective.

If you’re going to borrow B2C practices, Santa says use the right ones. He knows that companies like Amazon are widely successful not just because of products/individuals – but because of their commitment to relating to the buyer’s needs: reviews, urgency (delivery times), and interests. In B2B, remember: the account, not the individual, is your buyer.

So as you look to fill your prospect companies’ stockings this holiday season, please note:

  • B2C is not B2B. Be thoughtful about the differences.
  • Accounts, not individuals, are your prospects in B2B.
  • Think realistically about the creative support you have within your organization. Your personalization strategy should reflect it.
  • Relationships matter. Build them with account-based marketing, targeting accounts rather than individuals and their attributes.

Leave it to Santa and the world of B2C to keep track of everyone by name. If you can follow those guidelines, you’ll not only make it through the planning season more easily, but you’ll reap rewards all year long. Happy Holidays!