I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m a podcast fiend. I listen on my walk to work, while I exercise, when I wash the dishes—no moment is to short to squeeze in some extra listening.
Logging all these hours means I’ve heard more than just a whole lot of episodes: I’ve also heard a whole lot of ads. And since every podcast seems to be sponsored by the same 15 companies, I’ve heard each these ads a whole lot of times. The products being hawked vary from toothbrushes to discounted business travel, but at their core, every advertisement is selling the exact same thing: simplicity.
Why figure out what to cook when you can order a meal kit in the mail? Why trek to the Post Office for stamps when you can print them at home? It only takes two taps—just two!—to snag event tickets using this mobile app! Are these products any good, inquiring minds may wonder? Sure, say the advertisers. But more importantly, they’re easy.
E-commerce startups weren’t the first companies to embrace ease-of-use as their primary value proposition (just look at any 1950s kitchen appliance ad featuring a beaming housewife), and they certainly won’t be the last. But more and more, this approach is rearing its head in a realm it shouldn’t be.
Fellow B2B marketers and sales folks, I’m looking at you.
The Difference between Marketing B2C and B2B Solutions
Everywhere you look, you’ll find B2B solutions positioned as time-savers and life-simplers. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to know why your product is easy to use. I want to know why it’s so important that I can’t afford to live without it.
Unlike many of our B2C counterparts, our products aren’t simple. Why? Because the problems we solve aren’t simple. We’re doing more than sending someone a new pack of razor blades in the mail, and that, in my humble opinion, is what makes our jobs so interesting.
Ready? Here’s my pitch:
Positioning our companies’ products as quick wins might be enticing in the short-term, but doing so will ultimately set ourselves—and our customers—up for failure.
Still skeptical? Here are three reasons why you should stop selling simplicity and start embracing the complexity of the problems your company solves:
1. You’ll Stand Out from the Crowd
As we B2B marketers struggle to gain credibility with audiences that take everything we say with a grain of salt, it’s tempting to fall back on fad-diet-style advertising messages; to claim that our products will single-handedly transform their [professional] lives—and that all they need to do is fork over the cash.
But when was the last time you bought a fitness miracle product from a late-night infomercial just because it claimed you’d never have to exercise again (and showed some seriously incredible before-and-after photos of flabby stomachs turned lean)? Never? That’s because you (rightly) assumed that what you were hearing was simply too good to be true.
So instead of jostling with competitors to be the quickest fix on the market, take the opportunity to stand out by being the only company willing to talk to prospects frankly about the complexity of their challenges.
Here at Kapost, for example, it would be easy to nod along when prospects call up claiming that all they need to be better marketers is a dynamic editorial calendar. But we don’t do that. Instead, we take the opportunity to challenge that assumption, because we know that B2B marketing teams don’t just need efficiency-increasing point solutions to see success in the Age of the Customer—they need a new operating model. This level of honesty sets us up to have much more interesting conversations with prospects than they might be having with some of our competitors.
It’s a harder message to sell, of course, but a commitment to telling it like it is leads me directly to point number two:
2. You’ll Produce Higher-Quality Leads
But wait, you might be thinking, the thing I market really is easy to install/set-up/run.
That may be true, but any investment in a tool or service—especially in the B2B world—is a commitment to change. It requires time and effort spent learning new processes (and unlearning ingrained ones), winning buy-in, and changing the way people work.
No matter how easy your offering may make things once it’s up and running, making a purchase will always be more difficult than sticking to the status quo.
That’s why you need to sell the importance of your solution—not just the simplicity of it. What unacceptable business risk will your prospect face if they don’t do things your way? What do they stand to gain? What makes your offering different?
Developing this kind of narrative is more challenging than sticking to the “with product X, doing Y is easier than ever before!” model, but it’s ultimately much more compelling to the subsection of your audience that is actually ready to buy.
By filling the top-of-the-funnel with content designed to shift people’s thinking rather than encourage unrealistic hopes, you’ll probably see a drop in MQLs. But the leads you do qualify will be much more effectively primed to have serious conversations with your sales team.
Your sales reps will thank you, and eventually, your customer success and retention teams will too. Why? Because…
3. You’ll Reduce Churn
Getting a customer is one thing. Keeping them is another.
Reducing turnover is a pretty big deal because it’s a heck of a lot more expensive to bring in a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.
That’s why it’s so important that customers are prepared to be change-makers when they purchase your product. If marketing and sales have glossed over the complexity of learning and implementing a new tool, driving team adoption, and measuring results—not to mention, explaining why going through all this is ultimately worth it—your customers probably won’t be prepared to do what it takes to see results.
Winning that initial contract is sweet. But renewing and expanding it is so much sweeter.
Respect your customers.
In many ways, it’s as simple as that. Tell them the truth about what you’re selling, what it will take to make it work, and why it’s worth the effort. If your offer is truly valuable, you’ll benefit from weeding out people on the hunt for a quick fix and homing in on those with the potential to be your biggest success stories.