Katy Cesarotti | Gallery Design Studio Editor + Copywriter
B2B customers are under more pressure to choose than their consumer counterparts because they’re not just choosing for themselves—they have to make purchase decisions for an entire organization. Often, B2B buyers spend more time on the research process, and need more information to feel confident in making a purchase.
But before companies get all that information across, they first need to grab and hold their customer’s attention. One survey found that almost half of business professionals are getting more selective about the content they consume. B2B companies with technical, complicated products and services not only have to explain complex ideas clearly—they have to make it interesting enough to be heard over dozens of competing demands for attention.
How can companies capture their audience’s attention long enough to actually communicate?
Communication design can help B2B marketers convey all of the amazing benefits of their company without sacrificing clarity or accuracy.
One survey found that 69% of marketers rank visuals as very important or an absolute necessity to their strategy. With strategic visual communication, companies can grab customers’ attention and care enough to take the next step—whether that means converting on an ad, signing up for a free trial, or making a purchase.
What is communication design?
Communication design is a blend of visuals and copy across mediums—print, digital, and presentational—to convey information and ideas. A mixed discipline, it combines information architecture, content writing and editing, graphic design, with strategic business thinking.
Communication design is about sharing messaging in a way that triggers a response and invites audiences to take action. Effective communication is built on a deep understanding of the market and the target audience. More than a dry presentation of facts, it tells a story and engages the viewer emotionally as well as intellectually, communicating through values and language that will resonate with the user’s specific concerns.
Communication design and B2B companies
While B2C communication design can rely more on emotion, effective B2B campaigns focus on appeals to logic and reason, leveraging relevant data. Companies can deploy more in-depth information about product features, use cases, and tutorials for buyers considering multiple options.
For B2B companies, the main communication challenges come in hitting a sweet spot between too technical and too simple, complex and clear, attention-grabbing and thorough. These tips can help you overcome the main challenges in connecting with your audiences, and help you apply communication design to build more purposeful connections.
1. Personalize Your Value Proposition
One study found that 90% of effective content marketers put the customers’ informational needs ahead of their sales message.
A clear, accessible value proposition distills all the technical aspects of what you do into value that’s easy for the customer to understand. Communication design needs to capture not just what you do, but why it’s worthwhile for customers to spend money on. What problem do you solve? How does your product or service save time, money, or provide return on investment?
Why should customers choose you over a competitor?
Slack focuses on its accessibility—with all of its available integrations, it’s easy to integrate into existing workflows, and makes it easier for teams to collaborate, not harder. It’s unified messaging and clear web layout hits home their argument: Slack will make life easier for your team.
Different benefits you offer will speak to different target audiences. The average B2B purchase involves 3-5 decision-makers across organizational levels and departments—a little research can help you understand what roles each plays in purchase decisions, and what features, benefits, or conveniences are most valuable to them. For example, a software developer might be thrilled by the technical capabilities, but an angel investor wants tangible, transparent information on financial returns.
According to a LinkedIn survey of B2B customers, buyers are more willing to engage with vendors who understand their business model and provides valuable education or tools. Go beyond copy with engaging design to show you understand their pain points.
2. Ditch descriptive messaging for data-driven insight
Descriptive messaging is typical, status quo content: basic copy that runs through what your product is, how it works, and key benefits.
But text-focused content alone can miss out on opportunities to engage with audiences. Eighty-one percent of people only skim the online content they read. Make sure they focus on the most important data and statistics.
B2B companies have a higher burden of proof, to demonstrate to customers that their product is worth the investment. Give customers the hard-hitting numbers that show your value.
Mailchimp breaks down their main benefits in a clear visual hierarchy that showcases the most meaningful stats. Online visitors immediately get a sense of their scope and expertise—300 app integrations! 6 billion emails!—and grasp the value they’d get as customers.
3. Leverage strategic graphics
65% of the population claims to be visual learners. Capture the attention of B2B customers with information that’s brief, immediately understandable, and clear. Explainer videos and infographics are helpful to demonstrate processes and multiple steps.
According to one survey by Prezi, 79% of business professionals said animated visuals helped them stay engaged. Graphics and videos can help users make connections between ideas and understand the big picture.
4. Communication doesn’t stop at the point of purchase
Especially with more complex service offerings, ongoing visual communication pieces can build and strengthen your relationship with your customers. Use visual sales sheets to promote new features for example. Salesforce offers a free learning platform called Trailhead, with self-paced online and gamified badges so that users actually enjoy navigating the site. Not all solutions need to be so elaborate, but continued outreach to your current customers can help them understand new features and become loyal advocates.
Most impactful channels for B2B communication design
What channels are actually worth the investment of time and content creation?
Communication design can help engage the majority of the population who considers themselves visual learners. Incorporate strategic design into your digital marketing materials—like email, downloadable content, and landing pages—to communicate more effectively with your target audiences. Purposeful visuals can enhance understanding, and encourage visitors to take the next step towards a purchase.
About Gallery Design Studio
We’re passionate about supporting B2B businesses with marketing and communication design. As ongoing partners, we help clients transform complex information into clean, engaging visual content. Relentlessly curious, we're inspired by experimentation and always striving to better serve our clients.
Get the creative support you deserve. Contact us today.
About the Writer
Katy Cesarotti is a copywriter at Gallery Design Studio. Katy believes that, with clear and concise copy, innovators can spark emotion and drive action in their readers. She’s written for magazines, blogs and cutting-edge startups.