Yesterday, I received a call from a (sales)man. He was telling me that our (ISDN) phone lines will stop working in July. However, he could sell me a new (VoIP/internet) service to avoid the problem. Yes, we know that ISDN is being phased out – but over 7 years, not 3 months. The earliest it will be switched off is 2025. We also sometimes get phone calls with horrible feedback or echoes resulting from overstretched VoIP services. Actually, when it comes to a normal phone call between 2 people, (IMHO) the old technology is more reliable just now. VoIP technology has improved, and I’m sure it will continue to do so. Sure, we need to be aware of the changes and plan for them. This should be on our timescales, not those of a salesman with next month’s targets to reach. Why does so much B2B marketing rely on misinformation, often playing on people’s uncertainties or fears?
B2B marketing should be about real benefit
Some time ago. I came across the following definitions of B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) Marketing: B2C: Promoting products and services that customers want, but don’t need. B2B: Promoting products and services that customers need, but don’t want. Okay, it’s a bit clichéd but I think that the distinction makes an interesting point. B2C is often selling to emotion, while B2B is about delivering benefit to a business – or at least it should be – and for a business to really benefit, the value should sustain over time. This isn’t necessarily the case with B2C Too often these days B2B marketing focuses on emotion/fear encouraging people to make snap decisions which may not really benefit the business. A proposition may look great in principle but no one is talking about the detail and the practicalities that will ultimately lead to disappointment as expectations are unrealistically raised and then not met. From some companies with a strong sales focus, the emphasis is on grabbing clients, building turnover and then worrying about whether they are actually delivering benefit. Is this right? Should businesses be selling products/services to people who don’t really need them?
- GDPR ‘Compliance’
- Digital Marketing
These are all areas where B2B services are regularly oversold just now. The goal is to sell the deal, then worry about whether you can deliver value – commonly leading to customer disappointment. Is overselling B2B services tantamount to a confidence trick?
Good Marketing is Valuable
I guess the problem is that people and businesses who misinform or oversell essentially have little confidence in their own product and services. Or they are in a race to the bottom where you have to grab market share without looking at whether your customers will benefit. They can’t believe that what they offer delivers any significant value – so the only way they can market it is to push the boundaries of truth. Or at least ethics. Most (though not all!) will carefully aim to stay the right side of the law in what they say while giving the impression that their proposition delivers more than it really does. However, good B2B marketing is really valuable. If you use your marketing to advise and inform your marketplace without pushing an option just because it is what you want, you can grow awareness of your company and, by demonstrating expertise and knowledge, build confidence in your capabilities. This way, when a potential customer has need of your services, they are more likely to know and trust you, and come to you for advice. If you can offer real benefit to them, the process of them doing business becomes a natural progression – easy!
There is a downside to this ‘engagement’ approach. It takes longer, but the trade-off is that you are building relationships which stand a great chance of developing into long-term customer partnerships rather than just flash-in-the-pan quick win sales. It is no surprise that many really successful businesses started off slowly and then, as their brand became known and trusted, the business took off. The engagement approach takes planning, monitoring and budgeting but, in my opinion, stands a greater chance of building a better, long-term, business. I guess there will always be those who just want the quick win at any cost, then move on. Hopefully, a market can increasingly recognise this approach and make their own minds up as to whether or not a business who is prepared to bend the facts to their own ends is a suitable company to do business with. As always, get the facts and make the decision, the choice is yours. Ultimately, the good will win out.