Why do people believe in myths?
Myths are often introduced into an individual’s belief system by a person in authority confidently stating them as a matter of fact, and subsequently those on the receiving end of these assurances continue to perpetuate the story so that the myth propagates.
For example, it is a myth that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis and that the Great Wall of China is the only man made structure visible from space, but I admit that I was fooled into believing both of these stories to be true from a very young age, and I imagine many of you were too.
However, for every myth debunked, there seems to be three more that pop up before fast becoming ingrained in popular culture. While most myths are relatively harmless, we do seem to be fascinated by their presence, with TV shows like Mythbusters becoming ever-more popular, and ‘true or false’ questions in pub quizzes often revealing the truth behind such tall tales.
However, some real damage can be done when these falsities are related to our work, yet unfortunately the same misbeliefs seem to be maintained - and acted upon - by marketers again and again.
With this in mind, I’m going to dispel three commonly-believed myths surrounding B2B marketing. Getting rid of such mindsets should not only help people do marketing better - but also, importantly, enjoy it more!
So here goes...
Myth #1 - B2B marketing isn’t fun!
If you think this, then you my friend are lacking in a bit of imagination!
One of the reasons why I love marketing for businesses is because of this myth. Think about it: if the majority of marketers believe that B2B marketing can’t be fun, there is a huge opportunity for those who dare to think differently.
However, this attitude towards B2B marketing is slightly baffling. A product or service that is deemed to be dull gives you a blank canvas from which to create a campaign that can evoke a different reaction from your audience. Compare this to B2C marketing for something like games consoles, with the marketing in this area already saturated with excitement, wonder and addictiveness.
A great example of this comes from Cisco, and a video it released promoting its new router, the ASR 9000.
Now that already sounds sexy doesn’t it?
Ok maybe not. Cisco was aware that its content around this product had the potential to be slightly dull, so it took a humorous angle for the video below, which it released the day before Valentine’s.
Who’d have thought that a promotional video of the highly technical and seldom seen product of a router, could be the focus of such a comical Valentine’s video. But it works very well, and it managed to add mainstream appeal to a product that is largely unknown to most business buyers, so imagine the effect it would have had on the target audience.
The video is part of a larger campaign Cisco ran around the product, which which includes appearances from John Chambers, the chief executive at the time, in a number of skits.
Myth #2 - Businesses don’t buy on social
Right, let’s talk about conversion.
Typical B2B sales funnels are long and complex right?
There can be several personas involved before a final decision is made, and this can take time since several factors have to align such as budget, resources, completion of other projects, etc.
But throughout this time the audience aren’t just monitoring their inbox and reading the latest whitepaper. They’re human after all!
Companies need to share thought leadership content as well as product information, to influence this long and complex B2B buyer cycle.
So why is it that I constantly hear from marketers that social media is of no value to them, when the majority of time spent by their audience throughout this process is on social platforms? It really is the ideal stage on which to influence the sales process and maximise your chances of conversion.
Where better to show off your understanding of your audience's interests and concerns than by appearing to them on the very platforms they go to engage with new content.
In a nutshell, use social to...
- show them your brand values
- show them what’s unique about you
- show them how well you understand what’s important to them
Of course, using the right social platform for your business goes without saying, but finding where your audience is constitutes the easy part. Doing something about it, on the other hand, is the underrated part.
Myth #3 - Business buyers only make rational decisions.
Wrong. Just so wrong.
This is like saying consumers only purchase if a product makes them feel a certain way, rather than consider more rational choices such as price and compatibility.
Neil deGrasse Tyson said in an interview with Fast Company: "Don't call me left brained, right brained. Call me human".
B2B decision makers are ultimately consumers when at home or shopping at the weekends, at work the way they think doesn’t necessarily change.
- They have emotions to satisfy
- They have aspirations to achieve
- They have concerns to resolve
Ultimately, consider them a consumer with a specific set of requirements.
Studies in cognitive neuroscience have proven that our brains use a combination of inputs to make decisions. Emotions and reasoning mix in the prefrontal cortex which leads to decision making. Therefore emotions are intertwined with rational data, and so understanding those that are most emotionally charged is very important.
I’m not a huge fan of the left brain/right brain concept, as it leads many people to believe they fit into one or the other. Marketing has taught me that things are never that black and white.
Find the rational competitive advantage in your product/service and charge it with the most important emotion to impact your audience. Then develop your marketing around that.