B2B marketing has always been different from B2C marketing in a number of key ways.
B2B purchases involve longer timelines and more people.
B2B purchases are based largely on need and logic, while many B2C purchases are based on emotion.
B2B customers want as much customized information as possible - B2C customers are usually satisfied with knowing a product or service's features and benefits.
While this is all still true, now that marketing has moved into the digital realm, the boundaries between what works for B2B and what works for B2C are beginning to dissolve. So what B2C marketing strategies should B2B marketers be paying attention to - and maybe even implementing?
While B2C companies have been quick to realize that transparency is key in appealing to the modern consumer, this realization hasn't yet gotten as much traction in the B2B realm.
Historically, B2B companies have intentionally maintained opacity around certain key points that affect the customer's decision-making process. Price is one of the most important - even today, most B2B organizations make it impossible for prospects to obtain pricing information without speaking to a salesperson.
The thought, of course, is that forcing a lead to engage with one of your salespeople makes it more likely that the lead will close.
But these days, that kind of thinking is likely to backfire. That's because the B2B customer journey - just like the B2C one - has drastically changed.
Today, the average B2B customer is already almost 60% through the buying journey before they speak with a salesperson.
In other words, if they don't get the information they need about what you're selling somewhere within that 60%, they're far more likely to abandon the pursuit. After all, there are hundreds of other companies selling similar products and services - and they're all just a quick web search away.
Unless your product is truly so customizable that it's misleading to offer information on price, implementation, support, etc., you should strongly consider embracing transparency.
You can make this information more easily available by offering it as a download, or in exchange for an email address. If you still want some engagement before releasing that information, you could offer a no-pressure chatbot that's able to answer those questions leads frequently ask.
Make an emotional connection
While B2B purchases will never - and shouldn't - be as emotion-driven as B2C, marketers don't have to be afraid to appeal to customers' emotions.
In fact, a study by Google and CEB found that 71% of B2B buyers who have an emotional connection to a B2B product or service will end up purchasing that product or service.
As long as those emotional appeals are supported by the facts, statistics, and feature and benefit details that B2B buyers have always needed, there's great benefit to be had by incorporating emotions into your marketing.
Your business is selling a product or service to another business, sure - but don't lose sight of the fact that behind each business there are people making each and every decision.
One relatively easy way to begin is to start being more open about your company culture, and about the people who make up your organization.
This can be done by adding a "culture" section to your website, by publishing blog posts about your company's social or charitable endeavors, or posting video interviews with key staff members. There's nothing wrong with starting small.
Invest more in social media
Knowing how to cultivate a social media presence as a B2B company can be challenging, especially if you're in a highly technical or niche industry.
However, there's great value in staying present on social media channels, as according to the Pew Research Center, 77% of American workers use social media while at work. And it's not just for recreation - they use it for professional reasons, too. The Pew survey found:
24% of workers use social media to make or support professional connections
20% to get information that helps them solve problems at work
17% to build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers
If you don't have a strong social media presence, you're missing out on an effective way to connect with the very businesses you're trying to attract.
If you're having trouble knowing what to post, start with some of your content. Post your whitepapers, blog posts, slideshows, and other industry-related content.
You can also curate content from industry thought leaders and other leaders in your space, which will give you the chance to connect with their social media followers, as well.
B2B marketing doesn't look like the same as it did 5 years ago. It's more personal, more diverse, and more transparent. Embracing these realities will help you set your company apart from the rest of the pack.