Dear B2B, It’s Totally OK to Copy Our Outfits, Love, B2C

by · October 25, 201211 comments

How do I put this gently?

Your outfit looks … well, it looks a little frumpy.

I know, I know, you’re only going to work. You’re not there to make a fashion statement. You’re there – as you should be – to be judged on the quality of the work you do and your depth of expertise on your subject matter and all that.

You’re smart. You’re knowledgeable. And once people sit down and patiently listen to what you’ve got to say, it all comes together. They just need to give you that chance, right?

I get it. And in the perfect world, you are right, Mr. B2B Content. They should give you that chance.

But this world ain’t perfect.

People judge books by their covers. First impressions can make or break you. And to some people, the clothes really do make the man. Presentation is (almost) everything.

Sadly, Mr. B2B Content, your stuff is sometimes getting dismissed simply because of the way it looks upon first glance. Great content that doesn’t play by today’s rules get overlooked in lieu of content that just knows how to present itself better.

So, how are we going to get people to give you the attention you deserve? How are we going to get their heads to turn and their hearts to thump?

We’ll just give your B2B content a little makeover, B2C style:

(Pre-makeover note: I’m not saying you need to invest in a new wardrobe, I’m just saying it might help to be clever in how you accessorize and work with what you’ve got. Ok, enough pre-amble, here’s the good stuff)

Rule #1: It’s OK to get a little crazy … with your headlines

kim-kardashian-070511-larThe headline of your digital content is the most important factor in getting shared in social media, getting clicked on in search engine results pages, getting opened in an email subject line, getting people to read the first sentence (and potentially the rest) of your post, and of course, attracting eyeballs.

I’m not saying you need to dumb down your content to gain mass appeal, but I am saying your headlines could do a better job of cutting right to the core of an issue.

The best headlines:

1. Are as provocative as possible without being NSFW

2. Cut right to the heart of the matter (and show the benefit of clicking)

3. Speak to the human on the other end AS a human on your end

Pro tip: Get an issue of Cosmopolitan and replace “sex” on any headline with a noun from your industry (like say, “accounting’) and it almost always works. Almost.

Rule #2: Just because people are reading content “for work” doesn’t mean it’s OK to bore them to death

B2B audiences are not a collection of job titles – they are a giant group of people. Those people read books, watch TV, attend sporting events and are very aware of pop culture.

So, tie your content into current events. Here are some successful examples:

From Forbes.com

hunger-games
From Mergers & Inquisitions:

 

don draper guide to banking

 

From Engage the Blog:

nicki-minaj

The pop culture tie-in gives readers instant context and a construct they can cling on to that they already understand. It makes it less intimidating to learn about something new when something familiar (and culturally relevant) comes along with it.

 

 

Rule #3: Be your Saturday self

Image from tpdsaa.tumblr.com

You can leverage vertical solutions to find collective synergies in emerging markets all you want. But people won’t stick around to hear the rest of that sentence.

Use your human voice and talk less like a brochure.

The conversational tone breeds trust and encourages engagement. And since customers are losing confidence in their ability to trust brands, this conversational nature could make all the difference. People are saturated with marketing speak and appreciate when brands can speak to them in human ways. Just remember: You’re a human. Act like it. Unless you’re ok with being a digital marketing failure.

One last thing: I’m not saying you need to abandon your brand messaging and your core audience and turn into a LOLcat. But I am saying that whether you’re in B2B marketing or B2C communications your target audience is human beings. And humans crave human interaction. Make sure your brand is dishing it out.

And remember, don’t get your hopes too high. Just because you’re dressing like us now, doesn’t mean you’re going to get the same reaction as us.

Don’t worry about getting People.com numbers, just worry about getting the right people to your .com.

 

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About Andrew Hanelly

Andrew Hanelly

Andrew is SVP, Strategy for McMurry/TMG and for one semester in college, was a sociology major. He writes at Brain on Digital, as @hanelly on Twitter and here on Google+.

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