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Marketing and Comms
3 Tips for Helping B2Bs Find Their Sex Appeal

B2B companies often see themselves as the dry toast to B2Cs’ Belgian waffles dripping with whipped cream and berries. And when we talk about making sustainability sexy, they may think it doesn’t apply to them. But it does.

B2Bs can be sexy, and there are sound business reasons to make the effort (To be clear, I mean compellingly attractive, not underwear-model sexy). What does it take to elicit an “I want that” reaction? We’ve come up with the HELIX code: Humor, Emotion (or Empathy), Looks, Intelligence and the X-factor. Businesses that incorporate these elements effectively in their marketing are more memorable and likeable, and have more dedicated fans. (More on decoding that DNA here.)

B2Bs can use the code as successfully as B2Cs. It may take a little more imagination, but sustainable businesses have an advantage here, since they’re inherently smarter and more innovative than others in their market. Following are three approaches that can help B2Bs make their products and services irresistible.

Build from the core

Start with your primary message — the distillation of what you do, how it’s different and why it matters. (Don’t have one? Then messaging is your first step.) What’s smart about that or intrinsically cool? How can you emphasize it using humor, emotion and design?

Have fun

>Having a sense of humor doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll sacrifice credibility. And it doesn’t have to mean telling jokes — you can just be playful or whimsical. MailChimp, for example, built its brand on not taking itself too seriously. From its goofy mascot to its chatty blog (“We used to hate these things so much, we called our own popup form feature ‘evil popup mode’ for a while”) to its behind-the-scenes Instagram feed, the company imbues its functional tool with an aura of fun. And that’s one reason MailChimp has the largest share of the email marketing category.

Borrow some allure

Sexiness doesn’t have to come from within — not when we’re talking about marketing, anyway. One way to increase your appeal is to associate your brand with something else that’s considered sexy or cool. We turned to drink for the Silicon Valley accounting consulting firm RoseRyan, creating a campaign based on custom cocktails for the firm’s 20th anniversary. We commissioned gorgeous drinks from a local restaurant, gave them finance names and voilà — press coverage for a milestone that normally wouldn’t have rated a second glance from media.

Remember, robots don’t buy business products and services (yet). Humans do. And we don’t stop responding like humans just because we’re at work. We’re always going to be more receptive to something desirable than something dull, whether we’re looking at a brunch menu or comparing accounting services. B2Bs that realize that and work to build a “sexy” brand will have the advantage, whether they’re breaking fresh ground or competing in a crowded field.


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