The Art of B2B — applying UX and CX thinking strategies to create lasting partnerships

The B2B customer journey is a bit of an enigma. I often find companies dance around defining what it really requires to be effective. Some may say it’s ultimately still the same process. The end goal is to reach human beings and to pull them towards your product. I would say that is only a half-truth.

It is absolutely the case that on the other side of the computer screen is indeed a person, and naturally, there are certain things that are going to help grab their attention to nurture the process. However, there is a huge difference between a consumer and a business customer. Consumers can impulse buy in a way that B2B customers cannot, and because of that, they are looking at their possibilities in a completely different way.

Consumers do not have to consider buying a million units of a product. A consumer often is just looking at whether they’re going to buy Colgate or Crest. Even in the case of a big purchase, let’s say something like life insurance — at the end of the day they are buying only one policy. They will definitely do more considering than they would for a tube of toothpaste, but many of the same branding tactics that can work in selling that policy, can work for selling toothpaste.

So much of what makes branding work is the pull on the emotional self. The individual feeling that they connect with the product in some way. For instance, I love Geico marketing. I have loved Geico marketing for years. Every time I see a Geico commercial I have an impulse to leave my Progressive policy and go to Geico. I literally have to walk myself off the ledge and remind myself that I know what’s happening to me right now. I know that I’m just feeling connected to this very specific brand of humor that speaks to me. That it has nothing to do with whether or not they’re going to provide a good service!

Honestly, I have had great actual experience with Progressive which is why I have never left. But I often wonder, if I were not in the field that I’m in — would I have left Progressive for Geico?

This emotional pull is not true in B2B.

Site UX and UI design

The aspect of B2B that is similar to B2C is UX site design. When thinking about how an individual is going to navigate through a site: where the call-to-action buttons need to be, where the account info of the individual user needs to be — all of these elements need to be done in the same way as any end-user experience. People are used to navigating through websites on a daily basis, and we don’t want to make them have to think through a wildly different process when they are navigating on behalf of their business. But this is a very small piece of the customer journey.

Who is our B2B customer

We have to think of B2B customers as the savvy and skeptical customer.

You may have had that relative in your life. Remember that one aunt who never trusted advertising? The one who always said they had to do a bunch of research before they made a decision on anything … even toothpaste? That is the kind of mindset you want to go into when you were thinking about your B2B strategies.

It is the top of the funnel that is the most challenging piece, and where you really have to pay attention that you are treating your potential customers as savvy and intelligent — because they are. There is a lot on the line for a business when they are going to potentially buy large quantities of another businesses product.

They have to think about:

  • The quality of the product.
  • Whether or not the product is really going to serve the purpose it is intended to for their own business.
  • How much support will they get once they receive the product.
  • Is this business able to scale up in the number of units sold on short notice?
  • Does this business have marketing materials that I can use to help promote my own end sales?
  • Does this business have consumer viability?
  • Will consumers recognize their brand name such that we can use it to our advantage?

These are just some of the questions that a business is going to ask themselves when looking at where to invest their money. That really is the bottom line.

It is critical to add value first — the business vendor must prove itself to a silent audience with well developed UX/UI and Content Marketing.

When you’re talking B2B you’re talking about a business investing in another business. It isn’t simply a purchase, it is a partnership.

Author: Martita Meier

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