Marketing to Business: The Force Awakens

Marketing to Business: The Force Awakens


No business truly sells to another business; we all sell to people. ― Ann Handley


When a well-known international technology company recently launched a marketing campaign designed to build awareness for its mobile content management services, most observers expected the same statistics-filled messaging that’s been a common part of B2B marketing for years.  Some might refer to this as Joe Friday Marketing: “Just the facts, ma’am.”  Who needs sizzle and spice when stats and specs are all that’s needed when selling to businesses? 

To the surprise of many (and perhaps to the chagrin of its competitors), the company took a very different approach.  Instead of just delivering the facts, the firm produced a highly entertaining series of videos with a Star Wars theme to coincide with the launch of Stars Wars: The Force Awakens.  The result?  A record number of shares, likes and comments in social media plus a 22% open rate and 5% click-thru rate on emails sent out just a week before Christmas.  And while sales performance hasn’t been evaluated fully yet, the awareness-building benefits from the campaign are undeniable.   

What’s the insight here?  People are people, whether they’re buying for themselves as consumers or buying for a business they may own, operate or work for.  And people generally respond better when they receive communications that are engaging and maybe even entertaining. 

When marketing to a business, you’re marketing to people who have feelings, preferences, and personality.  You must not only capture their attention but also give them an immediate reason to care about what it is you’re trying to say.  If you can’t reel them in within the first three to five seconds, they’ll move on to something more urgent, interesting or compelling and leave you wondering why your engagement and response rates are so low. 

Here are some key points to remember as you develop your B2B campaigns:

1.     You’re communicating with people: Engage with them. 

2.     Time is money. Capture their attention quickly and decisively.

3.     Content must be relevant. Providing some fun is useless unless it delivers the payoff message.

4.     Keep the dialogue going.  Give your target something more to look forward to in order to extend the consideration phase and keep you top of mind.  

5.     Clearly state your call to action.  A relevant, engaging communication effort is worthless without a simple, straightforward way to respond.

6.     Measure your success.  Track results and always look for ways to improve performance the next time around.

If you keep these points in mind as you craft your next marketing strategy, you might just find that you already have the Force to be a successful B2B marketer.