Targeting Businesses and Corporate Clients — A Few Considerations

Why does so much B2B marketing have a bland ‘corporate look’?

Group in conference room listening to presentation
Group in conference room listening to presentation

It is a mistake to think that marketing to businesses should be clean,
professional, bereft of any personality. Emotion can be as powerful for this group as any other.

Emotional and transformation appeals get attention. Facts and benefits will close the deal, but you won’t get this far if your audience has fallen asleep.

There is plenty of evidence that using strong emotional tugs lead to action, even in the B2B category.

This HP ad is great. Using a transformational appeal, we see an ordinary office worker showcase her daring and trailblazing ingenuity, all through the weight of her laptop choice.

Make a Client Persona for the end-user. Do some brand storytelling about
the pain and the hero, and the guide.

How is your company positioned to help that company or that user?

What Does Business Pain Feel Like?

Say you are in the software-as-a-service business (SaaS). The pain of a bad software system isn’t felt by the software system, it is felt by the people who have to work with it. I can think of a few of these.

What does pain look like? Frequently freezing? Blue screens of death? Missing deadlines for NO apparent reason.

What’s the ultimate expression of that pain.

What’s the reward for getting it right? A deadline met? Beautiful printing? The chance to shine and be noticed. (In the HP example, the office worker gets recognition.)

Use storytelling and find angles of pain and pain relief you offer. Exaggeration is the domain of creativity, so it needn’t be realistic.

glass buildings from below
glass buildings from below

Terms Around Business Markets


This is demography for businesses. If you choose to do this,
pick your market on the basis of Size, Industry, Locations, number of Staff,
Company Structure, Asset Base and/or similar characteristics.

One very key thing to consider in this case, however, is that businesses don’t make decisions. Businesses consist of human beings in interaction with each other where there are frictions, rivalries, comradeship, and hopefully a unified sense of purpose.

Decisions are usually made in groups whereby an initiator will receive feedback, opinion, and approval for a decision. This group is the ‘buying
center’ as per below.

The Buying Center

The Buying Centre — For B2B marketers, the ‘buying center’ is also known as the Decision-Making Unit (DMU). That is simply because one piece of eye-rolling jargon is never enough.

That said, the DMU is important only so far as we understand it to be ‘the human element’.

This is the group of individual people who influence each other in a business
environment in the matter of purchasing decisions and consists, in no
particular order, of these people:

INITIATOR (this is the person in the office who suggests that their business
might need a service like yours)

GATEKEEPER (Chris on reception who opens the mail, reads the incoming
email, as well as answering the phones and arranging appointments)

DECIDER (the CEO, MD or mid-level management person who can actually
make the decision)

BUYER (the person who performs the purchase transaction). This would be Bronwyn, the awesome ruthlessly efficient little powerhouse who glues the whole place together.

INFLUENCERS (those who will affect the decision-making process; those who get forwarded the email around the office and put in their two cents including Accounts who may not understand the point of the expense). In my experience, the influencers may be outside the organization and may include — annoyingly — of the spouse or children of the decider. It’s just a fact.

USERS (those who will actually use the service)

blindfolded woman in business suit
blindfolded woman in business suit

Trust and Risk

Personal relationships built on trust is a key element for marketing in the B2B arena. The gateway to the account manager, however, is your brand.

Whether your brand is marketing to a consumer (B2C) or a business (B2B), one thing is clear. You have to have a strong brand personality.

Personal Relationships

Account managers who get to know the client and businesses well are a key one-contact for the client. Having easy access to information and advice is critical because it saves the client time and frustration. It also reduces their sense of risk.

Risk is a huge factor for big purchase items or contracts. The antidote to risk is TRUST.

To build trust, invest in good staff. Invest in people who are influential and have a proven track record. Also, people with contacts will help deliver strength to the network.

Simple Communication

The more complex your industry, the simpler the communication should be.

People are busy. If it isn’t clear what you do, you scare them and they are gone.

Chief among all things is a clear and compelling value proposition.

Show thought leadership by publishing informative and educational content related to your sector. Always keep the client’s needs in mind.

Do they need an explainer video? If there is a good one that is already out there, share it and help your client and prospective clients. You don’t need to recreate it from scratch, you just need to show you are looking out for them.

Wrapping Up

Business people are people too. Think about the pain points and how you can ease that pain. Keep in mind that the client is judging risks. We have to reduce their sense of risk by building trust, reliability and of course, great quality.

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Written by

Writes about strategy, storytelling, messaging, and communication…Prone to bouts of fiction.

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