“It’s OK if people don’t immediately love my offer. They will once they learn more about it!”
…Does this sound familiar?
You have a highly sophisticated B2B product (or service!). You know it can create massive value for your business customers — if they buy in and fully implement it.
But here’s the infuriating part: your prospects don’t seem to care.
No matter how much you explain what a powerhouse your offer is, and how it can transform any business that chooses to use it… the reaction you get from customers is tepid, at best. People just don’t seem to love your offer — and as a result, they don’t buy.
“I know, right? Summer, it’s like they don’t care if their business succeeds or fails! What the heck?”
I share your frustration, dear reader.
And in today’s article, I’ll also share something else with you. I will share a lesson that took me
way longer than it should have, honestly a long time to learn about B2B marketing.
A lesson that just might stop your conversions from flatlining, boost your sales, and completely change the way you look at selling to other businesses.
Here it is…
Did you know? “B2B” marketing doesn’t exist (kind of)
The dirty secret of B2B marketing, whether it’s video, content, social, or ads, is simply this…
You’re never really dealing with businesses.
Ultimately, it’s always people you communicate with — and market to. In any industry, with any offer.
No matter what you sell, 10 times out of 10 there’s going to be a living, breathing human (or more often, humans) on the other side.
Sure, they may be disguised with important-sounding titles like “Senior VP of Product,” but don’t be fooled. Peek behind the curtain, and you’ll find just another person like you or I, with flesh and blood and back pain and 3,916 open tabs.
Because businesses don’t buy things — only the people who run them do.
And businesses don’t “want” things… but the people who run them sure do!
So why do we keep acting like those people don’t exist, but only the companies do?
Seriously, take a look at the vast majority of B2B marketing videos out there. What do you see?
- Offer-focused messaging that barely acknowledges what the viewer wants…
- Blunt, salesy language that whacks you over the head with high-pressure phrases…
- Constant talk about what the business gets out of it — but not the humans making it run…
(To be clear: I am going to be talking primarily about videos here, because that’s how I make a living to put food on my kids’ table and grow my already-record-breaking collection of Lululemon yoga pants. But the same applies to all types of marketing and sales messages, across the board.)
Even though you sell to businesses, your messages must still speak to humans. If your B2B marketing doesn’t connect with the people behind the company you’re targeting…
…then you have a message that speaks to no one.
Write people out of the equation, and you’ll have nobody left to persuade.
Want your B2B videos to resonate? Ditch emotionless marketing
So, now the million-dollar question becomes:
If the “standard” approach to B2B marketing and sales doesn’t produce the results you need, then what does?
What does it really take for your videos (or any messages, period) to resonate with B2B prospects?
Well, remember: as I’ve said before, you’re dealing with people, not companies. And the secret to connecting with business owners is the same as the secret to connecting with everyone else.
Relate to them on an emotional level.
Your B2B leads and prospects don’t make buying decisions any more rationally than “normal” people. Yes, they may crunch numbers and set up meetings and make color-coded comparison spreadsheets — all this just to help them choose between different products and services…
*lowers voice to a conspiratorial whisper*
…but most of the time they only do it to justify a mostly emotional decision.
And once you look past all the rationalizations after the fact, you will see what actually drives B2B customers and their buying behavior.
Spoilers: it’s the same fundamental need that guides everyone else — which is…
The #1 thing your B2B prospects *actually* want
…Wait, should I have built this up more? Sorry!
Well, the truth remains: the biggest thing your B2B customers want in a product or service is connection.
Prospects don’t make buying decisions based on how “objectively” good an offer is. They simply gravitate to the product or service that resonates with them the most.
There’s that word again! “Resonates.” What exactly do I mean by that?
Well, I’m usually not one to whip out a dictionary or a physics text book and start waving it around my good reader’s well-moisturized face… but humor me this one time, OK? I promise it’s relevant.
Resonance is what happens when a soundwave meets its own echo reflected back at it — and both of them amplify each other.
Or, if we apply it to marketing:
Before prospects can be persuaded to care about how awesome your offer is, they first need to hear about how awesome they will be when they buy it.
OK, so you’re probably wondering, “Summer, what does that look like in practice?”
That’s what we’re about to dive into! Let’s put all the high-falutin’ theory aside and focus on some practical applications.
What exactly does your B2B message need to do in order to convert? Let’s investigate.
3 ingredients of an unignorable B2B message
And now, I’m going to share with you the top 3 things you simply must do whenever you market to business owners, or business decision-makers in general.
As you’ve probably guessed, this is how we’re going to make your messages emotionally resonant to your target audience. Because we buy things, and we buy into things, because of what they tell us about ourselves. (Nobody ever fell in love with a product because of its thicc features list!)
To prove that your offer is worth buying in and buying into, your B2B messages have to reflect 3 things back to your audience (reflection creates resonance, remember?).
And those are…
1. Their pain — show them you know what they’re going through
The most sought-after B2B products and services have this one thing in common…
They are all “painkillers.”
In other words, they are fully dedicated to solving some kind of gnarly, painful problem for their customers. The kind that makes them lose sleep at night, undermines their business goals, and keeps them hunting for a solution with obsessive, relentless focus.
If you can present your offer as the solution to a dire, immediate pain, your prospects will not stop until they get their hands on it.
All it takes is the right positioning. Make sure that you know your audience’s woes better than your own — and better than they do, even!
Only then can you convincingly communicate to them that you know exactly what that’s like… and you just might have a solution.
For example, let’s take the kind of B2B offer that we all think about as nice-to-have: business automation. Well, here’s how Zapier, a no-code automation tool, positions itself as an essential “painkiller” for business owners…
(I’m not wild about the tagline at the end, but: the way this ad expresses the business owner’s “growing pains” without a single word is so powerful.)
Hint: you can do this with any value proposition — dig deeper beneath the “nice to have” initial impression of it and…
Find. The. Pain.
2. Their wants — prove that you share their goals
Do you know what your B2B prospects want?
You’re not allowed to say “to grow their business” or “to make more sales.” It’s far too abstract to be useful — that’s like saying they want to breathe air!
What are some specific, tangible goals your business customers want to achieve?
For example, let’s say you sell a SaaS product to small business owners. Do you think they are interested in accounting software and its features?
Heck no! They just want to minimize the time they spend crunching numbers and sending invoices, and spend more time playing with their kids, windsurfing on Lake Izabal in Guatemala, or taking a luxurious two-hour lunch in the middle of a workday — just because.
(I know I would!)
Being able to reflect your B2B prospects’ goals back to them — even the ones they wouldn’t necessarily tell you about — makes them think that you “get” them. Unlike your competitors.
And when they have to choose between a dozen plus companies selling similar offers, you can bet your butt they will go with the one that lines up with their goals the most.
(Or even just articulates their goals in the way closest to what they actually think and believe.)
Pro tip + real-world example: Probably the simplest and best way to connect with your business customers is to just let another customer talk to them instead, through a case study or a testimonial!
Check out this short B2B video from the website building platform Wix:
Notice how down-to-earth the heroine’s goals are: “I just wanted to sell some underwear.” Even the ambitious goals are still really specific and relatable to the target audience of small business owners, in any industry.
3. Their thoughts — speak your customer’s language
Here’s the most powerful shortcut I know for connecting with your ideal customers:
Use your target audience’s exact words when you communicate with them.
I know, I know. This sounds like the most basic-Betty advice out there (no offense meant to real-life Betties, I just needed an alliterative name to slot in there), but it’s deceptively difficult to follow.
Inside each and every B2B marketer or business owner sits a Professionalism Gremlin wearing a knockoff Tom Ford suit with an uncomfortably itchy collar and one sleeve button missing. And that little dude is stone-cold terrified of not being taken seriously! So naturally, he wants nothing more than to use big words that sound important — like “utilize” or “synergistic solutions.”
But the trouble with those big words is… they don’t do anything.
They don’t present a clear picture of your offer. They don’t persuade prospects. They don’t even feel good: to write, read, or hear!
All they do is suck the life right out of your B2B marketing messages through a paper straw, giving you nothing in return. All for an illusory feeling of “professionalism.”
So ditch the corporatese and marketese, and talk to your business customers in their own words. If you offer SEO services and they say, “Google hates my website” — make sure to use that in your marketing. If they want “a business accounting machine” instead of “a cloud-based bookkeeping suite,” then forget that the last self-important definition even exists.
As far as I’m concerned, even if you hear your prospects say they want to have “a rootin’ tootin’ Q4,” then you had better use that verbatim in your B2B marketing! Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
Before we wrap up, let me give you a wonderful example of a B2B message that truly meets customers where they are, and effortlessly matches their language:
(This ad by Crazy Egg is a bit of an oldie, from 2013 — but it’s still one of my favorite examples of B2B explainers that really nail their audience’s language.)
Your B2B prospects crave someone who “gets” them
We think that business owners and stakeholders are guided by rational decision-making at all times. We think that they always want to know the facts and the data, so they can choose the objectively “best” offer.
But in reality, business customers aren’t interested in perfection. They just want to work with someone who understands them. Prove that you feel their pain, share their goals, and speak their language, and you’ll be ahead of 99% of your competitors.
So let them puff themselves up and sing their own praises. All you will have to do is hold up a mirror to your prospects — and you’ll become irresistible.
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