I’ve been working at the cutting edge of technology marketing for over 20 years. I’ve written a book, founded one of the biggest tech agencies and won countless awards along the way. Yet while my own personal journey is one of constant change and growth, I have learnt along the way there are some fundamental principles that exist within B2B technology marketing that will never change.

These principles are based on human nature; something that B2B sales and marketing often struggles with. In this brief post, I will highlight a human condition known as F.E.A.R, which is prevalent in almost 90% of B2B technology buying situations.

I will also shed light on how through brand, content and lead generation, companies can combat the F.E.A.R principle by making business and IT decision-makers feel B.R.A.V.E again.

What is F.E.A.R?

F.E.A.R is a constant emotional state that consumes the working lives of all but the most visionary and innovative decision makers. The first rule of successful tech marketing is to recognise that the people you are selling to have this condition. Why? Because in most cases the majority of traditional B2B marketing and lead generation exacerbates this human condition, creating decision making paralysis; stalling sales and marketing opportunities and reducing return on investment. Let me explain the condition in more detail.

F = Frustration: B2B tech buyers and decision makers live in a world of frustration.

  • They are often frustrated with the lack of time and resources they have available.
  • Frustrated with the depth of skills and talent in their teams.
  • Frustrated with the constant twists and turns of business life
  • Frustrated with a lack of differentiation, empathy and sophistication from vendors trying to do business with them.
  • Frustrated with their work/life balance.

E = Evasive: B2B tech buyers and decision makers are an incredibly slippery bunch of people to pin down. Your job is to find clever ways to make them visible.

  • They have learnt over many years that evasion is a tactic that makes for an easier life. They have perfected this method of corporate counter intelligence in order to evade annoying technology vendors and to give themselves some needed breathing room.
  • They are using Adblockers and protecting their privacy with greater integrity.
  • Banner and display advertising ‘blindness’ is common place

A = Apathetic: B2B tech buyers and decision makers are in the most part apathetic to approaches from tech vendors claiming they can radically transform their business and save them millions in operational costs and so forth.

  • Apathy is compounded by the over use of traditional product, feature and benefit marketing.
  • With so much content around, it’s easier than ever for buyers to get trapped in extended ‘learning loops’ where continuous research and reading replaces the drive to make a decision and move a purchase forward.
  • When HBR asked senior decision makers how they felt about complex solution purchases, their answers included: “hard,” “awful,” “painful,” “frustrating” and “minefield.”

R = Risk averse: B2B tech buyers and decision makers are incredibly risk-averse. Even back in the early 90s, celebrated technologist Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasmreferred to it as a ‘sheep-like mentality’. IT decision-makers have a natural herding instinct. For the most part they prefer to follow the crowd rather than lead it.

  • As the amount of content, data and information available to buyers grows, it’s not surprising that they’re becoming increasingly risk averse.
  • Buyers don’t care about making the right decision, they care about making the wrong one!
  • 67% of respondents to a recent report cited they now have formal buying groups or committees.
  • HBR have pointed to a growth in the number of people involved in the buying process from 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.
  • And despite that, more buyers seem to be suffering buyers remorse (or at least doubts).

So what’s the answer I hear you cry?

It’s time to make technology decision makers feel B.R.A.V.E again.

In my 20 plus years in tech marketing, I’ve always found that when I connect with a client who recognises the need to break free from ‘same old, same old’ that creativity can be the weapon that leads to a disproportionate economic return. Ultimately, that’s the reason why most agencies exist; to come up with big ideas that can transform the fortunes of their client. Over the years, I’ve met many clients with this attitude. Some cut it and make a success of their careers, others often wavier and live a life of rhetoric and beliefs rather than tangible and actionable marketing change.

About 12 months ago, I started trying to codify what makes some a success and others fail. More importantly, what’s the secret sauce that helps combat the F.E.A.R principle and gives a greater chance of marketing success?

My answer? We need to make tech buyers and decision makers feel B.R.A.V.E again.

What is B.R.A.V.E?

B.R.A.V.E is sales and marketing technique that provides an antidote to the F.E.A.R felt by many technology buyers and decision makers. At the heart of this approach is a more human-centred recognition of the emotions and drivers that affect the way people make decisions within technology marketing. It’s my opinion that when it comes to brand, content and lead generation, that the marketing leaders and companies who embrace the B.R.A.V.E approach will be infinitely more successful than those who follow a more traditional path. Let me explain this antidote in more detail.

B = Buyer emotion: B2B tech buyers and decision makers don’t just want to buy from you; they want to buy into you. You need to be able to demonstrate a clear point of view on the world as well as proof points behind your reason for existing. This simple idea gives credence to the work of Simon Sinek and his ‘Start with Why’ point-of-view. It also backs up the work of behavioural scientist like Daniel Khaneman that states ‘people buy on emotion and justify with fact’. They key takeaway is that emotion matters.

R = Recognition: B2B tech buyers and decision makers are human beings. Like all of us they want to be rewarded and recognised for what they do. How through your own sales and marketing approaches can you give them kudos and elevate them and their careers? This recognition can be within their team, their company or even within their industry. Ask yourself the question; what can you do for them, rather than what can they do for you? The more you invest time and energy in making them look good, the more you’ll look good too.

A = Appreciation: B2B tech buyers and decision makers live in a constant bubble of technological change. Virtually no other industry on the planet moves as fast as technology. And while many vendors try everything possible to force technology upon us, as human beings the pace at which we adapt and move forward is governed more by the realities of life rather than the timetable of Moore’s law. What tech buyers appreciate more than anything is vendors and suppliers who appreciate the intricacies and challenges they face on a daily, quarterly and annual basis. The closer you can align yourself to the very real and practical needs of the tech buyer, the more intuitive your marketing becomes. The rise of ABM (account-based marketing) is testimony to the fact that this highly personalised approach delivers results.

V = Viability: B2B tech buyers and decision makers will always make time for vendors who approach them in a human, intelligent and sophisticated way. They are not looking for hype and superficial marketing. They expect you to anticipate their next move and are constantly looking for you to give them quick access to tools, people and knowledge so they can make powerful arguments and recommendations to their peers and bosses. And they want all of this in the simplest and most user-friendly way possible. This means everything from access to content, customer references, sales experts and pricing needs to flow down through your sales pipeline.

E = Engagement: B2B tech buyers and decision makers live normal lives just like the rest of us. This means they also have high levels of expectation when it comes to marketing and digital engagement. Most importantly, they don’t want to be sold to. They are looking for you to engage them in creative ways, to stand out from the crowd. The power of creativity and techniques like storytelling can be a real asset when you succumb to the fact that people buy stories as much as they buy products.

How can we help?

We’re here to bring a fresh approach to your brand, content and lead generation.

  1. Create a better story than your competitors.
  2. Win hearts outside of the buying process as well as minds inside it.
  3. Find a better balance between chasing a finite number of leads and building long term demand.
  4. Shape your category around you, not just you in it.
  5. Swap post purchase doubt for customer evangelism.

Who are we?

Rooster Punk is an award-winning creative agency that takes a story-first approach to brand, content and lead generation activity. Established in 2013, the agency has quickly become a champion for advocating a more human approach to the world of B2B marketing. We work with startups and scale-ups including CurrencyCloud and Funding Circle as well as global brands like Samsung. We’re 20 brave souls on a mission to help technology and financial services brands to become a positive force in people’s lives.

Come and join us. #JoinTheHumanRace

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