One Secret to B2B Marketing Is Thinking like a B2C Marketer
Online search might more familiarly be thought of as a channel for B2C marketers, but it could be an untapped area for your B2B business to rise and thrive.
Think for a moment about how you go about finding immediate answers or longer-term solutions when you’re unsure of what to do or buy. If you’re like most of us, you plug your question into a search engine of your choosing, and out it spits the recommendation you sought. In those moments, we have a hunch that there’s something out there waiting for us to find it, it’s just that we haven’t spotted it yet.
This way of thinking about problem-solving is prominent and reliable. Yet, it’s more commonly associated with the search and discovery we told in our private lives than our professional ones. If you are looking to buy a new chess board to fuel your weekend hobby, you might search Google for advice on the best boards and their prices, which can range. You’re likely looking for the best value for your money. The companies that make chess boards are going to want to rank number one for those searches, to appeal to and be recognized as the experts who cater to consumers performing these kinds of searches.
Accordingly, companies that have invested heavily into SEO efforts tend to offer consumer products that people would search online for. They also mostly fit a price point that would match what they are looking to pay for a product. Services that are more costly for a consumer might leave a user feeling a bit queasy about relying so heavily on what happens to turn up in their searches without a credible resource like The Wirecutter or Consumer Reports adding their take on what’s worth and not worth such an investment. You don’t want to wing it, or risk regretting it, on expensive services that you might regret paying for, even if one service has the better SEO to reel you in. As with a majority of the decisions we make online, it’s best to approach and execute with good judgment and some healthy skepticism.
When it comes to B2B marketing, there are many fewer companies competing to get a piece of the pie that organic search can drive to a website. For starters, B2B services can be cost-prohibitive. If you’re going to invest in marketing, you’re more likely as a B2B marketer to think about a smaller pool of people, targeting them specifically through in-person events and online advertising, than to try to stretch to accommodate a larger swath of the general population. In addition, you have to ask these fundamental questions first: Would people search online to find this solution that I offer? If so, what would those keywords look like?
In my case, as I was building my company, SquareFoot, a commercial real estate brokerage firm based in New York City, I realized from past experience I had that many people, especially at growing companies, didn’t know someone personally who could show them office space. So I put two and two together and I realized that this portion of the real estate market was Googling for answers. So, from the very beginning, I invested heavily in SEO to capture these people as leads I could hand off to my in-house team of brokers. As a real estate veteran, this was all new territory for me to tackle. But I learned a lot about creating great content that would appeal to our customers, I built a listings platform for them to click around and to learn about their local markets, and I am providing tools to help deliver information and further transparency.
What this has done is changed the way commercial real estate is done. Until SquareFoot, nobody acknowledged that people were searching for space online themselves, looking not only for people to assist them but to have someone demystify this industry, too. As a result, our clients enter their first office tours accompanied by brokers with better knowledge of what to expect and, in turn, leave with a higher-quality experience. The in-person service we offer is improved because of the method in which they found us. This balance of online marketing and offline knowhow is the core of which I’ve constructed and structured my company.
Not all B2Bs will require this type of B2C savvy. I understand and appreciate that. Nevertheless, a decade ago, people in commercial real estate wouldn’t have believed that so many people would begin their searches for new office space within a web browser. People are solving all kinds of problems this way because it’s, for some, the only way they know how. I’m proud to be the one to give them what they seek. CEOs of other B2Bs should likewise consider whether they’re neglecting a segment of their potential client base calling out for help with nobody immediately responding. That’s the prospect I recognized and the area where I began eight years ago, and we’re only growing stronger with time.