When you’re marketing to businesses it’s easy to forget that you’re still talking to individual people. We’ve all done itthere, I’ve confessed. Briefs talk about “The CEO” or “the IT manager”, the closest they get to thinking of them as individuals is to point out that they’re short of time.

But you can get avoid the trap, and we’ve got three pieces of advice to help.

1: Message to the individual

The first way to rectify this is an easy one. When you’re putting together your messaging for a communications campaign, add another question to yourself: not just “what benefits am I offering the reader’s company?” but “what benefits am I offering the reader as a person?” It’s possibly a bit twee to suggest that your product will save them time or make them look good to their bossbut that’s often the case. Try to describe their personal motivations, or build a persona for them. What’s their career stage? What are the problems they face in getting things done?

You might make your call to action a benefit for your reader as an individualtraining, or a gift (provided you don’t cross any ethical or legal lines). You also should think about whether what you’re offering threatens them (or their friends) in some way. Does your automation suite risk jobs? Does a new level of performance transparency risk exposing their low productivity on Friday afternoons?

2: Consider group dynamics

Once you’ve started to think about personal benefits and threats, you’ve discovered a great way in to thinking about the buying group and the informal power arrangements between the different stakeholders. Many people are involved in a typical business purchase, and they all have different motivations. The HR team might love to know about your software’s ability to expose low productivity. But if you’re going to use that message you need to be sure about who you’re reaching and what information-sharing dynamic exists between those team-members. Maybe the HR director is best mates with the IT manager. Or maybe the culture in that office is to slack off on Fridays ready to hit Monday hard. If you don’t know, try not to guessmaybe it’s time for some more market research.

3: Talk person-to-person

Finally, and possibly most importantly, think about the style you’re using when you’re writing. Many B2B marketers (particularly if they’re selling IT) adopt a jargon-heavy, boring, formal, technical style, even in short adverts and e-mails. But the poor person reading your mini white-paper might just have been nose-down in Dan Brown on their lunch hour, or flirting on Facebook. How are you supposed to win them over when you’re boring them senseless? I’m not advocating adopting text-speak or packing your pieces full of jokes, but a little humour and some direct, clear, everyday language will go a long way toward building a relationship between you and your customer, without tarnishing your brand.

Posted by John on 23 December 2010