“My business is different.”
It’s an all-too-common refrain when it comes to approaches to marketing.
Sometimes it’s based on the product type. Sometimes it’s based on industry. Or location. Or size of sale. Or affluence of the target audience.
There are a million justifications behind it.
And these justifications are simultaneously 100% right AND 100% wrong.
The biggest one?
The rift between B2B and B2C…
Or, for those who aren’t hip to the jive…
Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C)…
Here’s the big justification. And it almost always comes from marketers selling to businesses…
“Since we sell to businesses and businesses are professional, we can’t use the same kind of appeals consumer marketers can.”
For example, the PAISA formula I teach in The Ultimate Selling Story and elsewhere.
Problem, agitate, invalidate, solve, ask.
Most B2B marketers would assume that while you can emotionally agitate the experience of having a problem when selling to consumers, you have to pull back on doing so in a business-selling context.
The problem you’re selling is different. The reasons it’s agitating are different. But fundamentally, we go through the same experience of problems and our desire to solve them when we’re at work as when we’re at home.
You have to speak to how that experience is different. But you’re still using the same fundamental rule.
The truth: it’s ALL B2H marketing…
If B2B is business-to-business, and B2C is business-to-consumer…
Ultimately, when it all comes down to it, there are human beings making the buying decision.
And while we like to pretend that we’re different creatures at work and in our personal lives, the truth is that we’re always human.
We have the same human drives and motivations at work and at home. We have the same human desires. We go through the same human decision-making process.
Sure, sometimes at work there’s a committee. But that just means there’s a group of individual human beings that each need to be convinced individually. That’s not all that different from selling to a family, where there are two or more humans that need to be convinced.
For example, a husband and wife may have vastly different reasons and desires for making a big purchase, such as their next home. You have to make sure both have their reasons spoken to, at least proportional to the desire of each to have input on the buying decision.
Same exact thing goes for a committee. Let’s say you have a committee of five making a business buying decision. One person brings the decision to the table, because it solves a direct problem in their division. Another just thinks this purchase will divert resources from their own initiatives. Two don’t care. But one is the leader of the group, and will probably drive the indifferent votes.
In this scenario, you have to reinforce the buying decision to your advocate, find a way to quell dissent from the adversary, and try to get the executive on your side.
In each case, you need to consider what their human drives and desires are, and how your offer will help them.
And most likely, the problem your product solves for the human that is your advocate is very different than the problem solved for the group leader, and needs to be spoken to in a different way. And for that adversary, you may need to do reverse-agitation, where you show how any problems created through this purchase will be minimized, or even addressed in the purchase itself.
The language may change slightly. The tactics you use may change minimally. (In both cases, far less than you might assume.)
And yet, the core process and structure of selling — which is designed to help your prospect make the best buying decision — doesn’t change one iota whether you’re selling to a human in a business or personal context.
Now: go deeper?
David Garfinkel, who I widely-recommend as the world’s best copywriting coach and who runs the excellent Copywriters Podcast, just presented on a private training call earlier this week.
I don’t know if I’m supposed to let you know that this even exists or not, so I won’t tell you any more details about the call.
But I will share a reference David made, to the book Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. I’ve had this book recommended a few times by excellent marketers, so I’ve finally decided to jump it to the top of my list after David’s recommendation.
In the book, Klaff discusses selling high-end financial products. And he talks about how he’d make the same pitch to a prospect that was the same on paper, but who would respond 180-degrees opposite from the last prospect.
One day, the prospects LOVE him. The next, they LOATHE him. Night and day.
So he starts to wonder about the difference. And specifically, how he can really dig into how his prospects’ brains work and get more consistent response, every time.
And he lands on the concept of the lizard brain — or, as he calls it, the croc brain. (As in crocodile… A ferocious-as-heck lizard I wouldn’t want to tangle with.)
Klaff figures out that nearly all of our input goes through our lizard brain — and is FILTERED there — before some of it is passed to the higher brain regions (often adding emotional content in the mammalian brain before we even start to process it logically).
And as you may or may not know, reptiles are basically built to do three things: eat, kill, and mate.
Now, we’ve evolved a lot with our higher brain structures, but this is still deep down inside. And so much of what we do is still driven by the lizard/reptilian/croc brain.
If you’re selling to humans, you really need to make sure you’ve got the lizard brain on your side.
You’ve got to couch the appeal in modern human language. As in, you can’t just say, “this will help you mate.” Well, then again, to that market…
But eating isn’t always about the literal act of eating. It can be about gathering resources. Having security of resources. And avoiding literal or figurative starvation. Killing doesn’t have to be about fighting either. Rather, it’s about physical security and control of the physical environment. And mating can be about sex, but it can also be about family and ensuring the healthy continuation of one’s genes (aka raising a good family).
So, you’re selling to a human being half-driven by their lizard brain, but wearing a suit?
How will this buying decision add to their personal pile of resources? How will it lead to more resource security for them, or reduce the risk of loss? How about safety, and the need to maintain a physically safe environment? Including, but not limited to, their personal status in the power dynamics of a group? And how will it improve their personal status and appeal in the context of mating?
I know some of this may seem cold, dehumanizing, and maybe a little vile to some. And yet the reality of human existence is that we’re still basically one foot out of the jungle. And a human brain is a mammalian brain with an extra layer. And a mammalian brain is the lizard brain with an extra layer.
You can dress it up in modern fashion and teach it to recite Shakespeare, but there’s so much to us that’s still based in our animal nature that it’d be neglectful to ignore its impact on your selling and marketing. Even if the name on the check you’re trying to get is that of a business and not an individual.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,