Infected Marketing

B2B marketers could learn a lot from influenza.

Actually, they would learn from Walgreens and their annual flu shots.  A few weeks back I received snail mail from Walgreens, the chain pharmacy which I haphazardly selected last year to get my annual influenza inoculation.  In the envelope was a colorful reminder about flu season and the fact I could get an injection, the location and hours of the closest store, a sheet detailing the hazards of catching the flu and the inoculation forms already filled out with the info I provided the previous year.

This helps explain why Walgreens’ return on equity, investment and assets are higher than competing CVS and why their stock price is doing better as well.

Promotions need to provide a sense of urgency, a solution and then ease the path to acquiring the product.  Walgreens did all that in one mailer.  Their literature reminded me of a recurring need, the flyer insinuated that body parts would drop off without the flu shot, and Walgreens even made the relative ease of filling out forms zero effort.  To do any better they would have to come to my office and inoculate me during lunch with both a flu injection and three martinis (which I’d gladly pay extra for).

B2B marketers rarely do all of the above.  Silicon Strategies Marketing is currently consulting to a company facing a come-from-behind scenario.  In reviewing their web and other materials, they create zero sense of urgency for their enterprise software, take forever in articulating how they solve the problem (though you will read a complete set of self-aggrandizing buzz words that describes their software), and they do nothing to ease the process of acquiring the product … not even a video demonstration to convince you of the products capabilities.

It’s enough to make you sick.

Oddly business buyers are no different from consumers in as much as they have the same need/search/evaluate/acquire process.  Their motivations are different and more complex and their requirements are more precise.  Yet B2B marketers seem to believe in some mystical higher perception and patience of corporate buyers and thus do little to make buying easier and needs more painful.  Our new client’s customers are in extremely competitive markets where the solutions provided can mean survival.  Yet their web site never drives home the fact that their customers could vanish without gaining a competitive edge or how the software offered can provide that edge.

The marketing lesson is simple: the basics apply everywhere.  Consumers, businesses, monks sitting atop distant mountain ranges … they all have needs even if they are unaware of those needs.  You have solutions.  Make the buyer feel the specific need that you uniquely fulfill, then remove all the barriers to learning, testing and acquiring.  Walgreens motivated me, told me how to get the solution and made it easy to have a stranger stab me with a sharp object filled with dead viruses.

They just phrased it better.


Speak up! What are your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.