B2B MarketingBy Tom Dougherty
B2B marketing: It is dead. In a way.
On the Brand Insider podcast, Carla Pineyro Sublett, the CMO of NI (National Instruments), offers this quote: “There is no B2B vs B2C. We’re marketing to people…B2B marketing, in particular in tech, is dead. Everybody’s running the same plays.”
NI recently rebranded with the theme of “Engineer Ambitiously.” A solid theme line that at least is about the customer. And tries to get at something emotional for its audience of engineers. Sublett and NI, which makes testing equipment for manufacturing equipment, also understands that there is nothing different between B2B marketing and any other sort of marketing.
It’s ALL emotional.
Brands in the B2B arena will often tell you emotion plays no part in preference. It’s all about numbers and product benefits. Hogwash. CEOs and other B2B leaders are swayed by emotion just as much as anyone else. In fact, they may be more highly sensitive to emotional issues. They live in a world where the wrong decision can mean their job.
“All the ways you create preference (which few do successfully) in B2C marketing is also true for B2B marketing. If anyone tells you differently, listen closely. They’ll also be the ones saying you should consider the one with the most emotional brand.”
The best B2B marketing is emotional
Stealing Share has rebranded many B2B companies. And the most successful ones are always highly emotional. GlenGuard, a protective fabric manufacturer to brands like Carhartt, hits on the emotional fear of not being in compliance. Biomimetic, recently bought by Wright Medical, aligns with the idea that podiatric surgeons are bored. Therefore, “Reject Ordinary.”
Sublett is right that, just like consumers, B2B companies also see that all offerings are basically the same. Everybody’s running the same plays, indeed. And so many are ignored.
The NI rebranding focuses on engineers. And their enjoyment of being problem solvers. The word “Ambitiously” is meant to catch you, as all good themes should. But a simpler word would have made the position more believable. And not just sound like marketing. (And NI didn’t need to trademark the theme. Just defend it.)
But the approach is correct. All the ways you create preference (which few do successfully) in B2C marketing is also true for B2B marketing. If anyone tells you differently, listen closely. They’ll also be the ones saying you should consider the one with the most emotional brand.
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