Off Target: Why B2B marketers struggle tailoring their marketing to their markets – and how to fix it.

As markets continue becoming more segmented, these strategies can help B2B marketers who are having trouble targeting their marketing.

Unlike their consumer counterparts, B2B marketers are struggling to embrace the targeting of their messages to individual verticals. According to new research by Demandbase and Ziff-Davis, half of the marketing executives who took part in the study admitted they have only a basic understanding of how to target their markets.

Direct Marketing News reports that, “Experts interviewed say the study shines a spotlight on a long-overdue need for cultural change in B2B marketing organizations.” Below are some of the strategies we use to help our clients focus their message on individual audiences.


One of the best ways to begin crafting a relevant message is what’s often called bottom-up marketing. In addition to being very knowledgeable about the market itself, your sales force often has direct contact with your customers and clearly understand their needs, the challenges they face and the language they use. Harvesting their knowledge is key to developing communications that speak directly and sincerely to an audience.

Whenever we begin new campaigns for our clients, we always try to include the sales force in the discussion to make sure our marketing messages will communicate clearly to their customers. (As a side benefit, including sales people in the creative process will make them more likely to buy into the marketing efforts – as they’ll feel like they helped create it)

One voice, multiple audiences

Another key to successful targeted marketing is developing a brand that has the flexibility to speak to multiple audiences, while still giving all of your marketing communications a singular tone and voice. Though the messages and imagery will change with the audience, the overall look and feel of your communications should all sound like it’s coming from the same place.

One of the clients we work with is Siemens. From healthcare to industrial drive technology, they offer products in hundreds of different markets all across the globe. Their messages and imagery are always vertical-focused, but their brand is instantly recognizable in every market. It’s part of what has helped them become one of the most successful companies in the world.

The benefit of the benefit

The key to marketing effectively to audience is clearly conveying what’s called “the benefit of the benefit.” Products have features, which deliver benefits – which in turn deliver the benefit of the benefit. For example, Tide detergent has a special formula (feature) that gets clothes clean the first time (benefit), which helps parents save time by doing less laundry (benefit of the benefit).

Discovering and communicating this key understanding is often the difference between a campaign’s success or failure. When one of our clients, EIC Solutions, needed a campaign for their thermoelectric air conditioners in the military market, we emphasized the benefit of the benefit. Used for cooling IED detection electronics, their air conditioners have almost no moving parts (feature) that helps them stay operational in sandy theatres of war (benefit), which helps keep troops safe from roadside bombs (benefit of the benefit).

Solve the problem

The first question you should ask in targeting your communications is, “What is the problem my product/service will solve in this market?” Brian Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials says, “B2B marketers tend to focus on their products and services and how great those are, but today’s customers don’t care. They want to know about solutions that address their challenges.”

True marketing success occurs when you understand the problems your customer is facing, and then deliver them a solution that effectively solves that problem. When Alconox wanted to enter the UK veterinary market, we developed a campaign that emphasized how their cleaner, Tergazyme, could help veterinarians avoid disease outbreak by eliminating disease-causing prions.

If you’d like to see how we can help tailor your communications to speak clearly to a specific market, contact Bob Kent at




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