B2B Buyers are People Too – But They’re Not Like Consumers

I’ve spent the last 25 years preaching that people make decisions, not committees and not some industrial complex.  But get this — there’s been some research that’s come out that shows that B2B decision makers aren’t exactly like the “rest of us”.

B2B buyers have always sought to distinguish themselves from consumers.  They’ve been treated differently and separately.  They aren’t swayed by social media, mobile or any other marketing trends that the rest of us are always going on and on about.

As someone who works in the industrial B2B sector, I’ve always been sort of offended at this tendency to treat the B2B industrial audience as if they weren’t really people — more like some kind of mechanized version of a person, with no real emotions or ability to be swayed by such insignificant things as feelings, likes or dislikes.

As it turns out — I was wrong.


What B2B Buyers Are Really Like

An analysis of media and device reach among B2B buyers and decision-makers reveals significant differences from the average adult. While it may not be surprising to see buyers using traditional media at a disproportionately high rate, certain connected devices also see strong adoption among buyers and decision-makers.

All sectors of B2B buyers have seen increases in the use of smart devices, not just to receive email, but to conduct business.

How to Connect With B2B Customers – It’s not what you like, it’s what works

Yes, as a marketer, you know the latest marketing trends, the communication channels or social media strategies to use, but these don’t work on everyone – especially B2B buyers who are often in niche industries that don’t have a strong presence online or social media. The challenge is connecting with this audience in a way that is relevant and provides value.

Use email as a foundation for building and driving relationships.

While I’m not ready to concede the point that B2B industrial buyers are more like Borg than they are human — I will admit that building relationships with industrial B2B buyers requires much more than chit chat on social media.

Email is still the primary contact point for the industrial B2B audience.  The biggest shift in their behavior around email is that they can receive and respond to email using their smart phone or other mobile device.  So, a good place to start your engagement is with an email relationship building strategy.

Most CRMs have great integrations with email marketing systems and can help you segment your list.  Don’t forget that you can also segment your list by asking just a few questions at a time on a survey.  You can route respondents to different landing pages based on how they answer your survey question — and this will help them get more information on a subject they are interested in.

I’m not saying that B2B audiences don’t participate in social media or that they don’t respond to online marketing, I’m simply saying that they don’t LIVE in that space — especially those who participate in very niche industrial markets.  There is very little juicy content online to keep them engaged and most of them are looking for specific technical information.

This leaves a big giant window of opportunity for you to engage with them via email and to get to know them using your online survey tools.

They will appreciate the targeted nature of your marketing efforts and you will get to know them better.