It’s a well-worn cliché that B2B marketing can sometimes lag behind its B2C brother when it comes to telling stories. B2B leads the pack in some ways, but the average B2B transaction is often too large to take risks with your approach to marketing or copywriting.
But when we drill down into the world of technology, I’d argue B2B is leagues ahead of the way tech is presented through traditional consumer channels.
I think it’s easier to show rather than tell. So here’s the first exhibit – a listing for a laptop on PC World’s website.
As you can see, it’s a laptop. But does this listing tell you exactly why you want this laptop over the many others on PC World’s website? I suppose it does, but only if you understand the language. It’s all well and good to quote a processor name, but that doesn’t tell me why this will benefit me.
Instead of chiming off part names and RAM amounts, you need to tell me why I give a damn. Is 8GB of memory a good thing? Is it going to make me work better? Type faster? Clean my dishes for me? I’m certainly not sure based on this copy.
My intention is certainly not to pick on the way PC World writes its web copy. They are merely a victim of the way consumer technology is expected to be. Ironically, Amazon’s attempts to write about tech also suffer from a similar problem, but at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Similarly to exhibit A, the part names are rattled off, but in the title of the product this time. I’d argue this is even worse than putting them in the bullet points, but at least now the bullet points are free to expand upon why these technical specifications are a good thing.
But wait, they don’t. Instead the bullet points just use jargon to try to sell the laptop. B2B marketing materials are often accused of relying too heavily on buzzwords, but this example is just ridiculous. ‘Feature rich value’? What does that even mean? ‘Well connected’? As in, it has a wireless card? ‘Software essentials’? No bloomin’ clue.
The average consumer just wants to make their lives easier. So tell them how a particular piece of hardware or software will do that. And get it as early in the copy as possible.
Now it’s time to move to B2B marketing, to see how they handle their tech. Here’s the page on Oracle’s website for its SPARC M6-32 server. (Disclosure: Oracle is a Radix client, but we didn’t write this web copy.)
This is much better. I normally like to start my bullet points with a firm benefit in bold for emphasis, but even without the bold font, this copy takes a very complex piece of hardware (infinitely more complex than the average piece of consumer tech, certainly) and just tells you outright why you would want to use it. Need high availability and extreme performance? You know right away that this server is right for you.
How B2C tech should look
So how can we market complex technologies to our prospects more simply? Lead with the benefits, and then show how the technology enables them. Here’s how that PC World Laptop listing could have looked.
- Multi-task all your apps, all of the time with 8GB of high-speed RAM
- Get things done with no interruptions with a lightning fast Intel Celeron processor
- Connect with friends and family with a built-in webcam and microphone
- Keep all your data in one place and take advantage of a huge 1TB hard drive
Now doesn’t that look a bit better? So now you get an idea of the computer’s innards, but with some notion of how the hardware might actually help you. You’re welcome B2C technology.
In summary, B2B has the edge when it comes to presenting complex technologies. Good tech should enable us to do things quicker, and more easily than without it, so you need to tell your prospects that it will do that, and then how it achieves that promise. And if you can do it without rattling off a stupidly long processor name, then all the better.