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In my early days at Ziff-Davis, the most important buyer to engage were the early adopters and the influencers. Those buyers could have a dramatic impact on the success of a new tech product. The early adopters were the ones who let us know what the "next big thing" would be; the influencers could persuade others to purchase it. These are the audiences we would woo because they meant the most to our business in the long term.

In our data-driven world, we can now take this one step further and segment our audiences. Rather than reach influencers with your targeted message, you can now segment your audience and find the exact buyers that are currently in-market for your product. 

Consumer marketers figured this out a long time ago. For example, using retargeting techniques and programmatic buying, consumer marketers can easily find a user that is currently in market for a hotel in Barbados or a flight to Hawaii. However, in the consumer world that user may or may not be in market for that product again any time soon, if ever.

Business buyers are different. Their job is to be in market; they are always in market for something. It is just a matter of what and when. Take our CTO for example. He is signing a two-year contract for a new analytics software provider. During the next two years, he will likely be dormant for this product, but in 12-18 months he will likely begin actively researching the latest and greatest again. He is in market once more!

The question is: How do you know when this is going to happen and how do you reach this CTO at the right time?

Because we treat B2B as a separate discipline from B2C, it's easy to forget that there are actual people behind those businesses. Those people must be guided along the customer journey, the same as if they were purchasing consumer goods. So often in the B2B world, we rely on messages that we want our audiences to see, but I think it's time for us to take a page from the B2C playbook and focus more on offering messages relevant to their unique needs within their organizations.

Of course, B2B marketers are faced with the challenge of having to promote "less sexy" offerings. It's more exciting to market "Grand Theft Auto V" than business accounting software. However, that is the main reason why appealing to B2B audiences as representatives of their organizations and as individual consumers is so important. The product may not be something executives camp outside the store to buy on release day, but if you listen to them and appeal to their specific needs, you can still build excitement towards your products and drive significant revenue.

No matter the product, the key to B2B success lies within the relevance of your messaging. Not only does your messaging have to educate audiences about your product, its features, and its benefits, but it must speak to each decision maker on an individual basis to clearly define why he needs your particular product for their unique business needs. It's the B2C-esque focus on the individual that enables truly relevant B2B communications.

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image of Erik Matlick

Erik Matlick guides corporate strategy and vision at Madison Logic Data, bringing over 15 years in founding, board, and executive management experience.

LinkedIn: Erik Matlick