We highlight the 5 main reasons businesses don’t get the value they need from B2B advertising and how we might get around them.

B2B advertising is essentially no different from B2C – it’s all about people. People make and sell products and services to other people. The decisions those buyers make are driven by the same processes, and respond to the same propositional concepts, as any consumers. It’s easy to assume that somehow business customers are more rational and driven by logical propositions.  However, people are emotionally attuned. We must never lose sight of key human drivers.

Let’s simplify things down to the five main pitfalls so that we may see how we can navigate around them.

What’s most likely to go wrong?

1 – Wrong audience

Sometimes the audience is just plain wrong. We make assumptions about who the customer is and it’s somebody quite different. This is usually simply down to lack of research. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our product or service we don’t ask enough questions. Often all that is required is to start again and identify where we went wrong.

Another easy mistake is to pitch to the wrong level within the company. We need to identify who the decision makers are and talk to them.

We also need to avoid talking to the wrong level of business. If you are targeting accountants, there is a huge spread from a small high street firm to, say, PWC. You need to be clear just where your audience sits.

2 – Wrong message

This links to the above. Different people are looking for different benefits. For example, you may be pushing the technical benefits you offer to the engineer or software developer who loves your product, however, the buying decision may rest with the CEO or FD. They may not be technical people and what matters to them is bigger profits or reduced costs.

You may also find you have a flawed proposition and often this is a case of wrong brand-logic. Perhaps you have a budget product but are spending way too much on promotion. Or you believe you are a premium supplier but are offering big discounts.  The offer has to make sense to the customer.

3 – Wrong medium

It’s easy to make wrong assumptions about what’s the right medium to reach your audience. Do check very carefully – there is plenty of data available, so don’t make assumptions based upon gut-reaction or personal prejudices. Use facts. So often we hear, “I tried xxx, and that didn’t work, so I tried yyy, that didn’t work either…”  That’s just wasteful gambling.

It can make sense to test media with small spends. But what that should be about is monitoring, measuring and seeing what works and by how much.

Remember, the medium is not the message – just because you are on (say) radio, or Facebook, or mounting an email campaign, that is not the answer.  It depends upon the message – and the right message for the right medium.

4 – Wrong (or ‘no’) call to action

When a customer engages with your advertising message – what do you want them to do? It’s amazing how many ads you come across which are all very nice – but you are left with an empty, ‘so what’ feeling. It’s important to be clear what the next step for a customer is.  Do you want them to call, place an order, subscribe, visit a website? An ad is only a step – focus on the next step.

Don’t give away too much in your message – intrigue your prospect, leave them hungry for more – then include the mechanism for that next step.

5 – Wrong timing

Timing can be crucial in so many ways. See what’s happening in your customers’ world. Is the time right for your offer? Is there any seasonality – weather, fiscal timing, budgets, holidays? With social media or email, when are your posts most likely to be seen and acted upon. Don’t waste money promoting when timing is wrong.

Let’s get things right

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