Like one of the great pioneers of education, Aristotle, I believe that a fulfilled person is an educated person - or in this case consumer. As consumers, in the buying process, we are rational beings seeking education to answer the burning question… ‘AM I BUYING THE RIGHT THING?!’
You get it, there is an education process in purchasing that is important, but in B2B marketing are we being educated in the right way? I don’t think so. We’re being overeducated and the overeducated person is certainly not a fulfilled person – they’re just confused, which results in a poor relationship between brands and their customers.
Let’s go back to school. If we all think about those lessons we used to have: long hours dragging by as we sat drearily copying notes from a blackboard in the hope that information would be retained, while our minds were fixated on something else. Wasn’t it boring?
Of course it was. Lessons of repetition and memorisation are tedious, to say the least. Especially if you’re a child – when your natural instincts are constantly pushing you to play, feel and explore the world in your own way. And do you know what, I don’t think I’ve changed much since.
So why then in B2B marketing are we taking the same approach and just constantly inundating our audience with information we know they won’t digest! (I even read a statistic that creation of content in B2B marketing has increased this year by 86%, meaning we’re literally drowning our audience in content - and that 75% of this content in marketing goes unused. What’s the point!?) Just churning out content in the hope that our audience will read it isn’t the right approach. It’s like those teachers standing at the front of the classes regurgitating textbooks.
Think about one of the world’s leading brands, Apple. The archetypal B2C (and B2B!) brand that everyone loves. What is great about them, their marketing? Actually, what has always been great about Apple is their products. At stores all over the world you can come in, to touch, feel, learn and explore their products. Touching upon our primal educational instincts.
Unlike B2C, It’s like B2B is stuck in the past. B2C marketing is an iPad and B2B marketing is a chalk board. And it’s time things changed.
Decisions made in B2B are more emotional than B2C, I know you wouldn’t think it. Ask anyone who is about to decide on the next tech investment for their company, or even the next office coffee brand. It’s a stressful process, it takes a long time thinking and researching what’s best. At the end of the day you’re not just letting yourself down, you're letting your whole company down. And if you make the wrong decision YOU’RE GOING TO GET FIRED.
Wait, I know what you’re going to say; traditional B2C marketing hugely over educates the consumer too, doesn’t it? Yes. There is an abundance of information available. At all times. 24/7 - across a million and one platforms, to the nth degree!
So how does it work? Simple. You’re educated in a human way and given the information you really want, not just need. You’re given laughter, joy, happiness and then customer reviews and peer ratings. Thus enabling a self-education process. And you don’t have to fill in a form, download a white paper, wait for an opt-in and give away your mother’s brother’s wife’s maiden name to get the information.
In B2B we don’t tend to give entertaining and useful information, we leave information out of the conundrum to force the business consumer to talk to a sales person. It’s like those lessons you had at school where you were spoon fed information and not able to work anything out for yourself.
So what’s the answer?
We should create remarkable content, for people to remark on and share. We should adjust our approach to education in B2B and start to talk to our audience in a respectful way - as humans. If we forget the funnel for a minute and educate our audience as people and not businesses then we may even generate much better leads. If we educate to fulfil and not to overload, with ‘our’ boring facts and figures, then we might just improve relationships and keep old Aristotle happy too.