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A guest post by Terry Sylvan of SterlingKlor Communications.

The whole point of marketing in the B2C world is to get noticed. So why is that not the case in B2B marketing? Every day, I encounter B2B marketing that is boring and filled with corporate mumbo-jumbo. Why? B2B marketing can and should be creative, exciting and (heaven forbid) sexy.

If you are playing in the B2B space, keeping these five things top of mind will prevent your company from falling into the trap of bland B2B marketing.

1.) Companies are consumers.
Are your messages creative and eye-catching, or are they a corporate snoozefest? Think about the people who purchase your product. Is the information easy to find and understand or do people have to hunt for information and read reams of technical jargon?  Like you and me, B2B decision-makers are consumers, too. They are looking for creative messaging that engages and brings real value to the company they represent.

2.) Companies are run by humans.
I find that knowing what the “big” guys in the B2B space are doing is a great litmus test for my clients and the messages associated with them. Take Cisco or IBM. They play in the B2B space, but their messaging isn’t bland. It’s creative, and it resonates with individuals on a deeper level with insights, such as IBM’s “Let’s build a smarter Planet” or Cisco’s “Together, we are the human network.” Remember: You are not dealing with a giant corporate robot. You are dealing with people. These people don’t turn off their emotions and human qualities when they get to work, so don’t talk to them as if they do.

3.) It’s not all about you.
Another aspect of B2B marketing that is perplexing is a company not knowing its target audience. Recently, I’ve been involved in several new business pitches, and the navel gazing that B2B companies are still doing stuns me. Many continue to base business decisions on a hunch---messaging that they think will resonate with their audience---rather than real insight gleaned from sound market research. It's not about you, your company or your work. It's about creating the impression that you would be good to work with in the future.  So rather than working out what you want to say, find out what they need to hear.
4.) Conducting market research has never been so easy.
With social media, finding out what your customers want is easier and much more cost-effective than ever. Ask questions on LinkedIn or post a poll on your Facebook page. Tweet about it.  Use website analytics and campaign metrics like Google Analytics.  These tools will at least provide you with some type of benchmark to base your decisions on---instead of gut instincts.

5.) The B2B landscape is changing.
B2B marketing and branding is maturing.  B2B companies are recognizing that in order to stand out they need an engaging brand story.  Organizations like BtoB Magazine and MarketingProfs have plenty of good examples and case studies of rejuvenated B2B brands that are staking new claims and rising to the top like SAS, CA Technologies, Kadient (now Qvidian), Truition (now CDC eCommerce), just to name a few.

So, as the B2B cream rises to the top, can your company afford to not get out and ask potential/existing clients what the benefits of your product are, or what will make them purchase more of your product?

What smart B2B marketers know is that focusing on creative thinking and real insight garners the best way to grow their market share or sell more products because they have tapped into what their potential or existing customers want. If you do this, you’ll be miles ahead of your competition, and we all know that once competition pulls ahead of us it takes very deep pockets to regain market share. Just ask Steve Jobs.

If you run a B2B company, what creative messaging are you using to set yourself apart from your competition?  Is your company rising to the top?  Also think about your product and it’s messaging. Do you think relevant and slick can create emotional responses with your customers?

Terry Sylvan is the vice president of Marketing Strategy at SterlingKlor Communications. Reach him at

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