Newer Is Not Always Better in B2B

I ran across a great print advertisement for Kraft® Singles that I simply had to comment on with this week’s blog. The ad showed a child’s hand holding up a slice of Kraft Singles American Cheese with the following words written over the cheese slice: Other cheeses are Gouda. Ours is greata! It was so simple, but I was impressed by how quickly it set Kraft’s product apart from the competition. Plus, according to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), this advertisement has a greater ability to motivate its buyers to elaborate on the issue, and remember it when it’s time to buy. Though the ad was B2C, the science behind the messaging is very applicable to B2B marketing. So I’d like to expand on the Elaboration Likelihood Model I discussed last week by writing about another key factor in elaboration &mdash prior knowledge.

B2B Marketing and Buyer BehaviorAccording to the Elaboration Likelihood Model, we will have a greater chance of motivating our customer’s buying behavior if we can encourage them to elaborate on our product or service. Last week, I discussed how personal relevance is an important factor in this process; prior knowledge is another. Scientific research has shown that, if a person has prior knowledge regarding an issue, he/she will engage in more elaboration and thinking regarding that issue, and the argument (e.g., messaging) may also have more persuasive effects.

So, in applying this to Kraft, we all know that Kraft Singles make wonderful grilled cheeses and are a favorite among children — but they’re not something we’re likely to set out next to our bleu cheese and brie when we’re preparing a cheese and fruit tray. I’m not saying this to belittle the product, just to describe its niche – and, more importantly, a niche of which a majority of us are aware. So, with a simple headline, “Other cheeses are Gouda. Ours is greata,” Kraft is building off of our prior knowledge of their product, which encourages us to elaborate on the issue longer, which in turn helps motivate our buying behavior.

So when you are developing your own B2B marketing messaging, talk to your customers and see what they already know about you. (See my blog on Sense-Making Theory for tips on how to do this.)  Building off your customers’ prior knowledge is not only a way to get their attention, due to the very nature of elaboration, it helps keep their attention. In today’s world, we often try to come up with the next best thing or newest idea, but ELM teaches us that perhaps novelty is not the answer; perhaps using what you already are and what your customer already knows about you is the best way to keep their attention and, thus, motivate them to buy.