Inward Investment Marketing: Why Marketing to Businesses is not like Marketing to Consumers

Friday 20 December 2013
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In a previous post, we looked into the reasons why Business to Business (B2B) marketers are confused by social media - only 17% of them reported being happy with their social media efforts.
In the end, we concluded that the fundamental problem was confusion between 'B2B' and 'Consumer' marketing approaches. Here's a summary of our conclusions, with specific reference to Inward Investment Marketing:

1. B2B Marketers are confused by social media because they see Consumer Marketers using it to engage in 'conversations' with their customers (individual consumers) that seem to have no obvious sales goals (e.g. see Cadbury's eyebrow dance).

2. Consumer Marketers do this so their customers feel a connection with their brand at an emotional level, because:

  • Consumer buying decisions are often more emotional than rational
  • Consumer purchases are often primarily for pleasure, not utility
  • Consumers often buy for themselves, so they're allowed to be irrational
  • Consumers identify themselves with their favourite brands (e.g. Apple)
  • Consumers won't lose their jobs for making the wrong buying decision

3. But marketing to businesses is different because:
  • Corporate procurement is primarily rational, not emotional
  • Corporate buyers are accountable to their managers and shareholders to maximise Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Corporate buyers can lose their jobs if their buying decisions aren't sound!

4. Which means that:
  • Corporate site selectors (i.e. 'buyers') are only likely to engage with your location or Investment Promotion Agency through social media if it helps them to identify the best possible site and location
  • Appealing to corporate site selectors on an emotional level is unlikely to be successful (it's about maximising ROI, not nurturing love for your city!)
  • Corporate site selectors are looking for practical solutions to their site selection problems - i.e. they want to know about your location's affordable sites, fast market access, available labour etc.

5. So your Inward Investment Promotion Agency should:
  • Make practical solutions to site selection problems the focus of your marketing content and your social media activities.
  • Talk about the things that matter to prospective inward investors (useful, factual information), not what's of interest to you (e.g. generally shouting and tweeting about everything that's going on in your city or region, and how fantastic it all is!)
  • Avoid social media 'tittle tattle' - if your social media 'conversations' don't address inward investors' site selection problems, you're probably engaging in pointless 'tittle tattle' that won't attract investing businesses and may well put them off. It's time to get a new strategy, with a renewed focus on addressing the practical needs of inward investors.

Nick Smillie
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