As different as B2C and B2B marketing can be at times, they are actually two sides of the same coin. True, there are strategic differences between them. For example, B2B marketing focuses on a smaller, more defined audience. The message is usually less personal, and the tone tends to be more professional. However, today’s marketers have greater access to consumer data, as well as marketing channels to use for customer engagement. This is giving B2B marketers more ways than ever to employ proven B2C marketing strategies with great success. Here are some to consider.
Engaging professional contacts has traditionally taken a straightforward approach. B2B marketers reach out to organizations, hoping to bring in leads with the purchasing power to take action. But now, with the influx of consumer data and other information available that can be appended to a B2B database, B2B marketers can get a much more well-rounded perspective of the person at the other end of their marketing campaigns. After all, B2B contacts are also consumers who interact in B2C channels. They are used to being marketed to in B2C ways. And they increasingly expect B2B businesses to give them the same personalized customer experiences they receive from B2C businesses.
With consumer data, such as behavioral and demographic information, as well as business data, such as firmographic details and information that identifies decision makers, B2B marketers have access to more information they can leverage to understand who they’re targeting. They gain a better understanding of the B2C channels their target audience uses, their consumer decision making processes and preferences, and the customer experiences that make them take action. Armed with this information, making business connections and increasing conversion rates is easier.
As mentioned previously, B2B marketers tend to adopt a more professional tone. After all, they are promoting products and services that help businesses, not make consumers’ lives easier. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t or shouldn’t use emotion in their B2B marketing campaigns.
As Darren Coleman, author of Building Brand Experiences, wrote, “Businesses that sell to other businesses are made of people – and people have emotions.”
In fact, a Think With Google study found that a lot more B2B consumers have an emotional connection with sellers than B2C consumers. Think about it: When a consumer buys a single product they don’t like, they can usually accept their loss and move on. However, B2B transactions tend to involve large amounts of money. Plus, the decision is being made on behalf of the business rather than the individual (no one wants to make a mistake that could affect their job). And, ultimately, the impact of a wrong choice can affect the future competitiveness, reputation, or success of the corporation.
While maximizing business revenue is a driving force behind B2B decisions, the study found that emotions play a large role as well. By building relationships with B2B customers, tapping in to what matters to them, engaging with them through channels and in ways they prefer, B2B marketers can effectively increase conversions.
B2B marketers can also tap into common B2C marketing strategies like creating customer/buyer personas. Determine what your “ideal customer” looks like. For example, what kind of business are they managing? What types of problems is their business facing and how you can help?
Although developing a customer persona in the B2B space shares similarities with personas in the B2C space, there will be slight differences as you define buyer attributes. For example, demographic details may go beyond age and location to company, industry, and position. And you won’t just want to know what they do for a living. You may want to know how long they have been doing it, what their decision making process is like (can they make the decision or does it go through an approval process?), and certainly whether they have purchasing authority (and particularly related to your product or service and its price).
Determining where they get their information is also key. What media sources do they trust? Do you already have connections with those media sources, such as content sponsorships, blog contributions, or ads? How and where do they network? What trade shows do they attend?
All too often, B2B marketers ignore social media. While your target audience may not be using social media for business purposes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t using it at all. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media channels may be useful to leverage when reaching out to B2B customers. They also provide insight into who your customers are and what they care about.
In particular, LinkedIn is a great option for B2B marketers. According to LinkedIn data:
Determine which social media channels (personal and/or business) your B2B customers use. Also, consider what LinkedIn groups they are part of and how much they engage with different channels. Making connections through these channels and/or advertising on them or sponsoring content through them can get your company noticed or keep it top of mind.
B2C businesses often use blogs and other forms of content marketing to reach consumers organically. B2B businesses can do this as well. The key is to target the right audience with the right messaging.
This means identifying what matters to your business contacts. Your content should be what they see as relevant, not what you see as relevant (unless they’re the same thing). In other words, don’t use your blog to tout your product’s features and how great your company is. Instead, discuss your audience’s problems and how they can be solved. Occasionally, you can make subtle connections to your products, but mostly, let your readers make those connections on their own.
You can also create gated content offers that resonate with your B2B audience. Use them to generate leads, while supporting your marketing messaging and brand strategies.
Building funnels can be an effective tactic for B2B marketing purposes. Sales teams and marketing teams can work together to evaluate the sales funnel and pinpoint gaps that marketing can fill. What does a qualified lead look like to the sales team? How can marketing ensure they target and collect leads that fit the description? When is the right time to hand off leads to sales?
Building funnels can be even more important for B2B businesses, because it’s often necessary to nurture a business lead over a longer period of time to convert them into a customer. There may be approval processes and detailed ROI analysis to go through, multiple decision makers involved, product demos to give, etc. And it may be important to incorporate multiple strategies to support the funnel, such as email marketing campaigns, nurture campaigns, paid online and offline ads, and content marketing.
In closing, here are a two more tactics to consider:
Certainly, there are many other B2C marketing strategies that B2B marketers can adopt. In this article, we’ve covered just a few. The key is to be open-minded. Learn what has worked for B2C companies and determine which of those strategies make sense to carry over to the B2B side. Then, adapt those strategies to fit your particular B2B products and services and the channels you use.