This post originally appeared on The Write Stuff where Stan DeVaughn blogs on behalf of Write Angle, Silicon Valley’s premiere technology writing agency.

Chances are your mom was a tough customer with a sophisticated BS-detection system.  Especially when it came to shopping and sifting through manufacturers’ claims. Today’s mothers, if we are to believe the studies, are every bit as shrewd.  Difference today is that mom knows her way around the Web and how to find exactly what she wants. Hint: she goes far beyond the brand’s website to find “the friendly neighbor over the virtual fence” who can share the inside scoop on how different products compare.

In other words, today’s moms’ behavior in their marketplace is identical to that of the hardest-nosed prospects in yours. So what lessons can you as a B2B marketer draw from the most successful consumer brands when it comes to building credibility among their most skeptical customers — those prove-it-to-me moms who guard their family’s budgets with a fist as tight as any corporate controller’s?

1. Redouble your efforts to make everything you present specifically relevant and timely to the target. Successful brands understand that today’s e-customers turn first to experts and respected peers, never the brand spokespersons.  And just as moms go right to the blogosphere for tips and guidance, B2B buyers increasingly go straight to the alpha opinion leaders in their categories.

2. Try harder to instigate only those discussions about your industry and technology that the opinion makers and thought leaders want to have. This is a subtle shift from a time, not so long ago, when marketing departments and their various agencies would look for issues that a company might be able to “own”.  The trick today is to pinpoint specific hot buttons drawing the most buzz and then to weigh in with your perspective based on the experiences of your users. If your brand message is delivered in harmony with the hottest issues, over time, you enjoy the halo effect. This inspires direct conversations with more of the hottest prospects and the trials that convert to sales.  From there the credibility spreads and accelerates.

3. Constantly test your material.  A/B testing among various customer segments can reveal surprising data about user sentiments and product usage. Expose different messages that emphasize a different spin and compare the responses in terms of the activity they draw.  Then craft the next wave of content accordingly. Your mom would be proud.


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