It's always time to buy. Photo: Frank Z.
It’s always time to buy.
Photo: Frank Z.

I’ve noticed an interesting tendency for B2B marketers to shy away from tried-and-true principles used in consumer marketing. But the fact is, business and professional markets respond to the same tactics used in those consumer campaigns. People at work are still people. There’s no such thing as marketing to institutions, only people, and they’re very much consumers too. And what works, well, works.

But wait, there’s more!
Certainly, not every consumer tactic will get results. But many of the tactics that make consumer marketing effective work perfectly in niche marketing if properly designed.

So specific tactics that you should consider include…..

The timed offer.
Or, “order by March 31st and we’ll throw in this nifty doodad absolutely FREE!” End-dates do work. Of course, the nifty doodad has to have value, and it has to be relevant to the lead product. If you’re marketing a subscription to a publication for nutritionists, giving away coupons for free sodas obviously isn’t going to cut it.

And how may we help you today? Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives
And how may we help you today?
Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

Always include a call to action…..”Call now, operators are standing by!”
Amazingly enough, I’ve seen business marketers make the case to leave out the call to action. Ugh! I’m not fully sure why, but I suspect that the indirect pitches we find in social media might have something to do with it. While social media certainly adds value to the overall mix, it’s intended to do something very different and in a different way than direct outreach. Communications sent directly to prospects always, always, always need to specifically direct them to take the next step. Very specifically. Read over your next outbound email or printed sell sheet. If you don’t see a “do this” type of statement, hoist that red flag.

Wayne Gretzky is quoted saying “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Your call to action is a shot. Take it. Your prospect may not follow the direction given, but without calling the action, then it’s guaranteed.

And what might not work so well…..

The Price is Even Righter.
Many B2B markets aren’t as price sensitive as consumer markets, so focus on other ways to add value than price discounts. If you don’t have to erode your bottom line, then opt for something different. For offers, consider extended terms — for example, add an additional three months to a twelve month subscription — or adding in related products or services for free. That works great when you have a big and broad product selection and cross-marketing is important. And it doesn’t reduce your unit price.

Is this an ad for gum? Photo: S. Swigart
Is this an ad for gum?
Photo: S. Swigart

What’s for sale?
OK, you just saw this amazing commercial during the football game. There are car chases, explosions, beautiful woman, rugged-looking men, and amazing action packed into a mere 60 seconds. But what was the product? Sunglasses? Cars? Hair gel? A new video game? A movie? You have no idea whatsoever.

Don’t do this. Don’t cloak your message in run-away creativity. Don’t be vague.

Creativity is great. There’s a way to be very creative and clear about what you’re marketing. Whether you like the campaign or not, Old Spice does this in an effectively and engaging way, as does many other brands.

But if you’re vague or play games with your product, it’s a sure way to turn your Hollywood epic into a horror show very, very quickly.