The Criteria of an Effective B2B Marketing Offer

This is part 1, Criteria of an Effective B2B Offer, of a two part blog series on B2B marketing offers. Click to view part 2 for additional ideas to strengthen your B2B offer.


B2B marketing is always challenging, but even more so when you are in a crowded market space filled with tough competitors. There are ways to stand out from the crowd, such as having a strong and differentiated product and precise targeting of the potential audience. But one of the most neglected weapons in the B2B marketing arsenal is an offer that gains attention and drives action.

In simple terms, an offer is what you propose to give to the prospect, and what you are asking for in return. The offer is the “What’s in it for me?” part of the marketing equation. The offer wraps the product or service in with the delivery method, terms and pricing. It may be a one-step offer, where the purpose is to directly sell the product or service; a two-step process, where the purpose is to connect the prospect with a sales rep; or a 3+ step process, where the purpose is to put the prospect on a drip marketing list for later conversion.

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Offers can range from “soft” to “hard.”  A soft B2B offer requires little from the prospect—for example, a free information download without requiring any contact information. By contrast, a hard B2B offer requires much more from the prospect, for example, a credit card payment for a direct sale or filling out a multi-question web form for a two-step lead generation campaign. Typically, soft offers will produce many more responses, but the average lead quality will be lower.

These are the criteria we look for in an effective B2B offer:

  1. It compels action. Regardless of what you are asking the prospect to do, the offer fails if it does not achieve the intended results.
  2. It reinforces your brand promise. Offers that are incompatible with the company’s values and positioning can sometimes generate short-term results, but are counterproductive in the long term. Resist the urge to go for the quick fix that damages your reputation.
  3. It is interesting enough to cut through the marketplace clutter and your prospect’s preoccupation. Business people are exposed to a huge number of promotional messages and you will need offers that are strong enough to overcome this barrage.
  4. It attracts the right audience. The point of the offer is to drive quality, not just quantity. Downstream conversion metrics can tell you whether your offer is targeted correctly.
  5. It is timed correctly in sales cycle. For example, information offers are used for prospects that are in the data-gathering stage, and pricing/discount offers are used when prospects are in the purchasing phase.
  6. It is powerful enough to compel immediate attention from the prospect. If possible, the offer should be tied to a strong call to action that shouts, “Take advantage of this offer right now!”

In my next blog post, I will share some B2B offers that consistently generate good results.

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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One comment

  • Josh Burnham November 21, 2013   Reply →

    Chris, these are excellent tips on creating critically timed and effective offers. These tips give great insight on how we can generate offers that fall within the right stage of the sales cycle, reach our intended audience with a compelling call to action that stands out in the crowd, and that creates quality not just quantity of leads.

    This should make both the Marketing and Sales teams happy! Thanks again for the thoughtful insights on creating effective offers!


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