Image courtesy of Susanne Nilsson on flickr.com

Personalization and B2B have always been tricky. You know you should be doing it but you don’t know the first place to start –so you take cues from B2C organizations who operate entirely different. Unfortunately, personalization and B2B is 1+1=0 -meaning personalization is not on a one to one basis as it is in B2C.

Also see: How to Do Marketing Personalization Like a Boss

Personalization and B2B:

  • The Decision Makers
  • The B2B Buying Cycle
  • Personalization and B2B

The Decision Makers

B2C personalization is truly one to one but B2B isn’t and in order to really capture the decision makers attention B2Bs have to stop acting as if they are B2Cs. There are gatekeepers and stakeholders in B2Bs –more than just one person is affected by a decision and they must be considered.

Your message could have to potentially sway 7, maybe more involved in the B2B buyer decision-making process! For example, let’s say your organization is thinking about moving to a new CRM platform. The IT departments has to know they can successfully set it up, the sales team needs a platform to fulfill all their needs, and marketing wants to make sure their automation systems will integrate seamlessly. This equates to more than one person or department involved in a decision.

If one person has acknowledged the benefits or your product or service you’ve done well –pat yourself on the back you’ve made it past someone who sees your benefits. But what about their boss -will that person and your messaging hold up against their questioning and arguments?

The B2B Buying Cycle

Every process for every organization varies but there are similarities across the board in the B2B buying cycle. In a recent survey on MarketingCharts.com from Regalix87% of B2B marketers stated understanding the customer buying journey as important in their digital marketing strategies.  Before you can create your awesome messaging you first need to understand your organization’s customer buying journey.

The most basic B2B buying cycle consists of some form of engagement with initial contact between sales and the customer. There’s also a point where you must figure the surface level pain points by asking basic questions. The difference between ask and  explore is with the depth of the questioning. Often times B2Bs don’t really know what’s causing their problem and the real issues are beneath the surface. It’s the difference between symptoms and the cause of those symptoms.

The last three steps in the B2B buying cycle are discover, decision, then purchasing. Discovery is when your customer realizes what issues are causing their symptoms and will often times reevaluate their situation. Decision is when the customer comes to the conclusion your product or service with aid in their needed solution. The scope of work or how your product or service will be implemented is also part of the decision. Last, but certainly not least is the purchase. Your customer should be a happy camper at this point.

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Personalizing in B2B

None of this is to say you can’t do personalization but don’t think of it the same way B2Cs do. There are many people involved in making decisions in an organization.

Messaging has to reach more than just the one person you’re targeting. You have to think bigger. Try thinking through the buying process for yourself and asking how many people could have to be in agreement to follow through with a purchase.

Let’s say for example you’re targeting people on the director level –there is more than likely another person they report to and countless others who are affected by your offering and need input before a decision is made.

In some ways B2B’s have to personalize by appealing to many. Whatever product or service you’re selling you have to think about how it affects an entire team of people not just the one person you are selling to. Once you’ve captured the attention of one you must think about how your demos, messages, and other selling materials will speak to the rest of the audience in that organization and address concerns they have.

Also see: Great Marketing Gone Wrong

If B2Bs stop thinking about personalization in the same way B2Cs do they may be able to do it even better. Personaliztion in B2B just has to be thought of differently and more planned out. If you think through the buying process, all the potential stakeholders, and your specific messaging you’re sure to have all your bases covered no matter who you’re selling to.