We’re joined by extra special guest star Matt Gilmartin from Smoke Screen to talk about brand messaging for businesses that operate on a B2B basis.
B2B (business to business) usually involves selling your product or service via one or more intermediary operators before it reaches its final destination - what we call the end user.
Many B2B organisations only target their marketing at the next operator in the chain, speaking in terms of technical features that only interest that audience. But this means that the end user is often completely left out of the marketing message.
End users don’t really care about technical features, they care about life-changing benefits. They don’t really care how you deliver a benefit, as long as it works.
And so it often transpires that B2B marketing falls flat when it comes to the end user. There’s nothing there to inspire them to choose your brand over any other. And that’s why so many brands end up in a sort-by-price war.
But the end user is the most important part of your sales chain.
It’s the end user who ultimately makes the final buying decision. It’s the end user who has all the power to demand your brand (or not) from the intermediary operators.
So why leave them out of your marketing?
Matt Gilmartin chats to Matt about the challenges of selling technical products to a non-technical audience, and why communicating your values and beliefs to the end user is just as important as communicating technical features to your middle operators.
Transcript Show / Hide
Hello, it's another Monkey Monday and I'm Matt. And this is not Chris Goor, look.
I'm not Chris Goor.
No, we have today with us a very special guest. It's Matt-Gilmartin. He is the managing director of Concept Smoke Screen, an SME advocate, export champion, electronic security expert, all around nice guy, master special projects, Queen of England. Uh, anything else, any other titles we can give him. So, and we brought you today cus you've said some really interesting stuff to us in the past about B2B marketing and really caring about the customer at the end. So I thought it'd be good to have a chat about that. So, uh, you guys do quite a lot of B2B. So who do you guys sell to? Who's your B in that sort of world?
Yeah. So we're in channel sales, we've got an electronic security product, security fog generators, which in the event of a break-in fill the place full of fog and drive away bad guys. When I say we're in channel sales, it means that we typically sell to specialist security distributors who then resell to an installer market, which support the final client. So that's our, those are the channels that we'll sell into. The final client typically, unless there's very special reasons to, we have limited contact with, so our, our main customers are the distributors and the installers. So that's, that's how we do it.
And what do you think you're, cause you do a lot of marketing yourself, what are your biggest marketing challenges? What are the things that piss you off? Are we allowed to say that? I've just sworn Mr. Goor, is that okay? Chris is, Chris is hiding behind the camera. You can just put a little producer thing there, can't you.
So the things that are particularly challenging in a business like ours is we sell a highly technical product that's very heavily regulated in standards that, really, final clients don't really care about, you know, they don't, they don't care if it complies with some arcane European standard number. They're just trying to get an effect, um, which is peace of mind. That's the effect that they're looking for. Um, so it's translating important technical points, whether that's through standards or, um, how things interface with each other into a meaningful message that means something to the final client that uses our kit. It's a very difficult and tricky balance for us to strike. So that's, that's one of the hard bits.
Um, and I think you described in the past, like some of the challenges around that, some of, some customers can get really bogged down with um, the tech spec of things and...
Yeah, spec sheet wars. That's what we call it, where you get, um, people want to make a meaningful comparison between our products and competitor's products. And so they'll get specifications sheets, which seems to be the way our industry is driven, and necessarily so, because there are people that are rightly concerned with how much does this thing weigh because I've got to install it; how big is it cause I need to find the right area to put it in; what is the standards compliance, because as an installer, for instance, they need to make sure they're complying with all the standards. Yeah. But you kinda get a situation where final clients will have these technical specifications sheets, put them next to each other and try and make a meaningful comparison. There's a weird peculiarity in our niche little industry where you are required to test the performance of the fog generators that are produced, but you're not required to tell anybody the results accurately. So on the specification sheets, you can literally put whatever you want there. So you'll get, you know, we will never put something that is not right and tested, but it is possible for other people to do that. So you can get, um, someone looking at two specification sheets without that background knowledge and go, well, this one says it does this and this one says it does that. And you can lose a sale without even knowing that it, for the reasons why it happened. Does that make sense?
Yes. So, um, I'm really interested in how you sort of get around that. So do you, how do you sort of pivot around. Do you talk different languages to that end customer? How do you market to them?
Yeah, I think it's, I think that's the important bit really is, um, showing the, you can't sell to everybody. If you try and sell to everybody or you can't talk to everybody, if you try and talk to everybody, you talk to no one.
So our view is that, um, when we're trying to do, to develop messaging for final clients, we want to tell the ones that are going to relate to us about us. So what are, what are our values? What are we trying to do? What's our purpose in the world. And our purpose in the world is not to make the biggest, fastest, most powerful fog generator ever. That's not our purpose. Our purpose is to bring safety and security to, to people and how you do that and, and expanding that thinking as well. If we're talking about safety and security being for everyone, which is what we believe, then you have to look at the root causes of crime, not just the sticking plaster part of the security measure that is trying to solve a specific problem. So where's the crime coming from? Because if no crime happens, then you've got the ultimate loss prevention measure. Yeah. So we believe in things like, you know, the societal causes of crime need to be addressed. Education needs to be addressed, all those kinds of things. So our messaging to final clients is very, very different to what it would be for instance, to our other channels who are more interested in technical aspects and, and those kinds of things. We think it's really important that, um, we're dealing with final clients that believe the same things that we do. Um, cause as I say, in the massive array of people we could sell to, if we tried to talk to all of them, we'd just have the weakest, weakest message of all time.
And then you ended up in just that sort by price or by spec sheets in your world.
It becomes commoditized. Yeah.
Yeah. And, um, when you sort of partner with your bits in between, I guess, those other channels, is important to understand their perspective and their customer, because I guess if you just talk the thing that they're interested in, that's only satisfying a simple need and that's going to cause that same problem, right? So if you don't talk to the end customer, what are the problems? What, where does it go wrong?
No, you're quite right. Um, ultimately the final client is the person that ultimately purchases the equipment and it's them that the majority of our messaging needs to be tailored towards because it helps the channels in between. Ultimately the final client pulls the product through the channels. And, and that's why the messaging there, there is important. We still have to, and we want to make sure that our installer market is very well looked after from the technical aspects that, that they know what they're doing. So they feel confident. All of those things. The respect of trying to promote what our product can do, it's the final client we need to talk to. And that helps the entire channel, cause it'll help drive the sales.
I guess you can get them some material as well, can you? To help them sell your products in that way so that they know they're selling your beliefs through their channels as well. And if everyone's on the same page, that's a benefit too, right?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Thinking again about installers specifically the kind of things that we've done in the past are, we will develop the whole quotation pack for them, um, with the whole specification, the whole survey, so that all of the messaging is tailored towards their client. And it's taking a lot of work away from them so that they can concentrate on what they do well, which is install. It's not, you know, it really helps them if we help them make the sales case and the business case about what our, um, what our products are for, who they are, who they're meant for, who they will help and how ultimately Smoke Screen is trying to change a difficult position in the world. Because the installer's job is to, is to install and install well, and then maintain. The distributor's job is to make sure that the products get distributed effectively, look after the logistics, that kind of thing. So, yeah, we're absolutely, we'll, we'll probably produce literature and stuff from that that installers can take and help promote the message.
Um, one last thing. Cause you're actually our very first ever guest.
Oh, I feel honoured.
You are honoured.
And so we thought we'd maybe, when we bring guests on, ask them all the same question, which is, um, have you got one piece of advice or something inspiration, inspirational that you've had in the last year that you'd like to share with our audience of poor resource-starved marketing managers out there?
Be brave. Just do it. Don't be afraid of change. Change. I thrive on it. Not everybody does, but so it means managing change a little bit. It's be bold. That's the best advice I can give. You know, don't, don't be afraid to say what you need to say. Um, because in the end, the worst kind of marketing is the weak, oh, look at this technical feature, isn't it better than the competition. Who cares? Nobody cares. Talk to the human beings, you know, um, know who your human beings are, who wants to listen to your message, um, and try and talk to them in the most honest way you can. Uh, I think that's the best advice I can give. Um, there you go.
I love that. And thanks so much. This was Matt-Gilmartin, Queen of England.
This is Matthew Burton, um, king of something else.
Well, thanks very much. Huge takeaways there from, uh, his giant brain. And we'll see you next time. Chris might be back, who knows?