talking past b2b customers

New Study Shows That Most B2B Marketing is Talking Past Customers

New research from McKinsey & Company highlights an interesting gap between the messaging that B2B brands use and what their customers most want to hear from them.

talking past b2b customers

Is your message missing the boat?

The study looked at 13 themes that b2b companies most often use to position themselves and then surveyed over 700 global executives in six sectors. The results are very surprising. There seems to be a total disconnect in most brands positioning and it has a minimal influence on buyer’s perception. This might be a good time to reexamine your positioning and improve your outreach to potential clients.


What B2B customers want to hear.

The three positions that had the highest contribution to perceived brand strength were:

1) Cares about honest, open dialogue with it’s customers and society.

2) Acts responsibly across its supply chain.

3) Has a high level of specialist expertise.


This last position doesn’t surprise me as much. It has been clear for quite a while that being a leader in your niche is always stronger than being everything to everyone. It may be more eye-opening that customers look for that as a strength when comparing brands. The other reveal is that none of the 90 companies sampled emphasized honest and open dialogue in their messaging.


What B2B marketers are holding on to.

The three most used positioning statements from B2B marketers were:

1) Role-models corporate social responsibility in its work

2) Promotes and practices sustainability in its products or services.

3) Has global reach.


Not only did these statements not move the needle with customers, they were in almost everyone of the sample companies messaging. It’s hard to stand-out when you’re saying the same thing as your competitors. Of further interest, low prices scored low for marketers and even lower for customers.


Room for improvement.

I think this study brings forward the opportunity to dig into your positioning and try to tell your story and the “why” of what you do. Statements like “driver of innovation” or “leader in our field” are over done and past their prime. Most marketers cannot deliver on these and almost no customer believes them. Examine your messaging, improve it and then make it consistent across your website, social media and sales outreach for maximum results.


Is your B2B branding where it needs to be? If you have a success story, share it in the comment section below.

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