“Business to business” really means “people to people.”
Historically, some B2B brands have had a reputation for being impersonal, static and – dare we say it – dull. No-frills companies with mysteriously unimaginative logos and 3 letter acronyms for names come to mind. But when it comes down to doing good work and having a stellar reputation, what’s in a name anyway? Well, it turns out that more and more brands are gravitating toward working with other brands that reflect a sense of humanity – brands that tell a story and put effort into crafting a unique identity. It makes sense: Our world and the business landscape in general are becoming more and more digitized and less personal, so why wouldn’t people choose to work with others that put a personal touch on their brand? In today’s environment, default brand personalities won’t cut it.
How can brands bring to life a vision and purpose that will personify them?
Communicate What You Stand For…
Brands need to have meaning and a purpose for existing. B2C brands understand this well –
after all, they exist to serve their customers and make their lives better in some sense – and B2Bs are beginning to jump on board. By putting a human voice on your brand, one that is approachable and conversational, you make your brand seem less intimidating and better to work with. When people hear a company’s brand voice and what it stands for, it helps them understand “who” the company is and provides an insight into its values.
General Electric pulls this off seamlessly. Their tagline “Imagination at work” inspires thoughts of creativity and ingenuity, and they execute their message by engaging people with inventive commercials and social media posts that center on how their technology enhances people’s lives and makes the world a better place.
They tell a story that communicates what they stand for: Innovation that “builds, powers, moves and cures the world.”
…But Don’t Be Self Centered
Brands should put their message out there for prospective customers/clients to see. After all, you’ve carefully crafted your message and what your brand stands for. But when getting the message out there, it can be easy to fall into a trap of conceit. On social media, it’s important to be well rounded in your messaging. Share things that people actually want to read, not strictly information about your brand. Share information about your industry and things that your brand is passionate about. Perhaps your brand supports a cause – that’s great! Share that information so others can see what else your brand is about beyond your main purpose. People and other businesses will appreciate your charitable efforts. If you are a local business, share things about your community. It’s okay (and a good thing) to be an eclectic – but specific – brand that sees the big picture.
Be Authentic, Not Perfect
Authenticity is valuable. People want to work with brands that know who they are and have a consistent voice and message. But mistakes will happen, even if you try your best to prevent them. If you do mess up, immediately own the mistake in an authentic way and address how you will fix it in a way that only your brand can. By correcting issues, your company shows its clients that they are trustworthy and responsible and a good business with which to partner. In B2B marketing, these values will never go out of style.
Share What’s New
The businesses you work with want to know what’s going on in the world of your brand. Keeping them updated on news, events, innovations and goals is a highly personal way of engaging your clients. Hosting webinars, sending out newsletters, writing up whitepapers and managing a great social media presence are all common – but necessary – methods for humanizing brands in 2017. It supports your brand voice (knowledgeable, funny, helpful) while providing useful information. Remember to always push what’s human and personal about your brand. Your current and future clients will reward you for it.
Make your messaging personal
Personalizing messages to clients is a graceful way of communicating to them that they are not just a number. If your brand is offering a new service/product or a special promotion of some kind, don’t start a “form letter” type of email campaign. Ensure that your messaging is personal and thoughtful, something you would want to read yourself. A subject line that reads “Here’s an offer just for you” is never going to get as much attention as a subject line that is written with the needs and wants of individuals in mind. These are a few attention-grabbing ways of writing a good subject line:
- The How-To: “How to Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rate”
- The Question: “Are Your Struggling With Your Email Marketing Open Rate?”
- The Announcement: “We Increased Our Email Marketing Open Rate. Here’s How.”
- The Number Line: “4 Ways to Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rate”
- The Name Drop: “Sarah, We Can Help Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rate”
These are all tried and true methods of personalizing a message that still get your point across.
As more B2B brands adopt expressive and more human ways of communicating with other brands, we expect to see a lot of innovation in how language, visual media and technology come together to craft stories. It’s an exciting time to be a B2B brand, so we encourage you to get in touch with what it is that makes your brand human. Need help telling your brand story? Our passion is crafting winning brands that are as personal and distinct as the people that work for them.
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