Every business thrives with the right mix of sales and marketing efforts. But how do you go about promoting your business when what you make or sell is often seen as ‘boring.’ If you’re in logistics, or manufacturing, or like one of our clients… in meat… it’s easy to assume that because you’re in B2B, digital marketing strategies, especially social media, won’t work because you’re not “sexy” like the Instagram-ready, pretty, shiny consumer brands.
We get it. Everyone gets excited about the tech industry, which is constantly churning out shiny new things that fans obsess over. The same can be said about most consumer packaged goods, which are not just fun to talk about, but fun to look at, too.
B2B businesses, or businesses that occupy a highly technical space, can be a little harder to conceptualize from a marketing perspective.
How to talk about what you do without putting people to sleep!
On a related note, if you can’t physically show off products in your marketing collateral (complete with consumer-friendly packaging), how else can you use elements of branding to win new business?
One of the most important things to realize is that you don’t need to be exciting to be the perfect solution to someone’s problem. If your audience gets what you do and how it’s relevant to them, they won’t be bored — they’ll be paying customers.
With all this in mind…
Here are some B2B marketing strategies to make your marketing sexy — even when your business doesn’t seem so
Sell the Value, Not the Functions
Rather than marketing the features of what you offer, it is better to market the impact of your solutions. Your sales people know this, and there’s no reason why you can’t apply the same principle to your online marketing.
According to Dan LaCivita of Firstborn, an agency executive on Forbes Agency Council, it is better to focus on marketing what value the service can bring to consumers rather than explaining the features of the business.
Let’s use the healthcare and biotech industries as examples — they’re not industries you’d typically consider to be ‘sexy.’
In both industries, technological advancements have brought about major changes that improve the quality of life for eventual end users. But getting into the nitty-gritty of the science behind it won’t catch the interest of anyone who isn’t specializing in the field.
This is a hard exercise, but if you want to improve your marketing strategy you MUST take the time to do visualization exercises to see the result from the perspective of the humans you’re helping. What will they say once you’ve solved their problem? They won’t say, man I loved that widget. They’ll probably say, “this reduced my stress.” “This made things so much easier for us.” “This really helped us get unstuck so we can grow faster.” “This improved our customer satisfaction.”
It’s a much better approach to B2B marketing strategies in these industries to tell how the company’s products and services will solve tangible problems, the impact they will have on an end user’s quality of life, and the resulting value of the solution.You MUST take the time to do visualization exercises to see the result from the perspective of the humans you're helping Click To Tweet
Stop the Industry Talk and Market Thought Leadership
Logistics have always been a dependable industry, but not something really interesting to talk about. Perhaps as a result, logistics was not heavily marketed, which made the competition less fierce.
Until recently. Here in Chicago alone, we saw a boom in new, fresh logistics companies that are innovative and bold. Their leadership and employees are active online, especially on LinkedIn. They share engaging content about technology, e-commerce, business, and not so much of what we consider traditional “logistics” talk. Because if you think your industry is boring but also insist on talking about 3pl and last mile etc., that’s just not sexy. Here’s an example of how to make it sexy, from ShipBob’s CMO, Casey Armstrong.
Want sexy marketing? Dare to talk about something else than your industry. Click To Tweet
Market Convenience from Technology
Another way to get ahead via social media marketing? Showcasing conveniences created with technology. A good example is the company Convoy. They worked on turning their freight moving into an automated process with the help of an app. Even Uber has added functionality for freight service on their app, taking advantage of the marketing gap in this industry and adding to their bottom line.
If you’ve successfully incorporated a technology process that adds values to customers (or another type of convenience), showcase that in your marketing content.
Draw Inspiration from Outside Your Industry
The best thing about marketing seemingly less sexy business industries is that your creativity will always be challenged and you’ll grow as a marketer.
According to Daniel Cobb of Daniel Brian Advertising (another agency executive from Forbes Agency Council), you can get out of a marketing rut and expand your horizons by looking at creative campaigns outside of your industry. Drawing inspiration from an unrelated business will prevent you from being too influenced by a competitor’s efforts while opening up your mind to new ideas for positioning your products and services.Drawing inspiration from an unrelated business will prevent you from being too influenced by a competitor’s efforts while opening up your mind to new marketing ideas Click To Tweet
Tell A Story
No matter what industry your company occupies, a good story will always make people listen.
Every business has an “About” page on their website. Some companies use this page to share boring statistics and mission statements (which are better left internal, in many cases), missing the opportunity to entertain and educate with the story behind the company’s founding and ongoing growth efforts.
For a technical industry, create interest by telling stories that involve:
- Sharing teaching moments and experiences
- Talking about mistakes
- Creating an emotional connection by featuring people, places, history
- Stepping into the shoes of your audience
Here is an example from one of our clients, James Calvetti Meats. The story of their evolution over two generations, from a meat packing plant to a culinary creation center, shows they are innovative and staying ahead of trends. Give it a watch and let us know what you think.A good story will always make people listen. Click To Tweet
Dr. James Barry, a professor at Nova Southeastern University, says that humor works very well in B2B spaces so long as the creator has a strategy in place.
It’s perhaps easiest to reach a customer in a boring industry when incorporating a bit of humor. A funny meme or a tongue-in-cheek joke meant for insiders will make people take a moment to consider your message (and possibly share). Just don’t force it. If you don’t have writers who are funny, don’t push them to be funny, because it may backfire. Hire a comedian. Trust me. It works.If you don't have writers who are funny, don't push them to be funny, because it may backfire. Don't force 'funny'! Click To Tweet
Allstate Insurance, occupying an industry typically thought to be ‘unsexy’, changed the game when they introduced Mayhem — a fictional advertising character who represented various scenarios that could negatively impact car owners. Allstate used Mayhem to show (with humor) how insurance can help in given situations. According to Allstate, the initial response to Mayhem was, well, mayhem… but in a good way.
— Mayhem (@Mayhem) February 26, 2017
Don’t DIY. Hire Visual Pros
One of the most glaring missed opportunities for B2B non-sexy industry businesses is the talent that visual artists have to turn what some may consider grunge into art.
Try to shift your thinking from “we need photos” to “we need art direction.” Since the rise of the iPhone, we started to forget that telling a story with photography takes a lot more than just a good camera. Next time you set up a marketing budget, redirect some of those massive expo expenses to a visual story-telling project. Or two.
Merge (or Properly Integrate) Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
This is one of the top 2019 digital marketing trends we wrote about and we are seeing more and more organizations moving in this direction.
The main reason to do this is because to be attractive online, you can no longer have those departments work in silos. There’s nothing sexier than a company that shows they listen and are in touch with their audiences. And as long as those departments don’t work as one, marketing may not know what your audiences truly say, what they need, what their challenges are. And vice versa. So much chatter happens online that if marketing and sales don’t work together, your salespeople may not know what your marketers observe online.
According to Accenture, most B2B buyers are 57% of the way through the buying process before the first meeting with a representative. Where do they do their research? Online. 70-80% of buyers will research online (which includes looking at your website and social media profiles), before contacting you.
So another reason to merge marketing, sales and customer service is because the user experience starts online and may end offline. So it’s critical to your sales success that this user experience is seamless.To be attractive online (as a brand), you can no longer have Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and PR work in silos Click To Tweet
Final Thoughts: 8 Sexy B2B Marketing Strategies for “Boring” Industries
Creating successful B2b marketing strategies for a ‘boring’ industry doesn’t have to involve a big budget or even an exciting product offering. Go back to the simple things: your value, the convenience you provide, your story, and a dash of humor. For when you’re feeling stuck, look outside of your industry to spark inspiration.
If you’re still struggling to find a solid foundation for marketing products and services in a boring industry, we’re here to help. Get in touch for a free consultation and we’ll talk strategy!