Traditionally, marketers have employed totally different approaches to B2B and B2C campaigns. B2B audiences get logical, serious, fact-based communications and B2C audiences get the fun, emotional, exciting stuff.
But lately, those established paradigms have been shifting. While it's true that the context in which someone makes a business purchase versus a personal purchase hasn't changed, what has changed is the communication expectation on the B2B side. B2B consumers--whom, by the way, are people--are looking for the types of communications that heavily resemble B2C.
"B2B buyers are acting like B2C buyers," said Russell Kern, President and Founder at KERN, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. "They are referring to social sites and customer reviews and asking peers and getting informed through educative content. Thus, B2B marketers should be using 'consumer tactics' as part of their media mix."
So what insights can B2B marketers derive from B2C communications? They can start by prioritizing personalization and direct communications, utilizing social media, and turning existing customers into brand advocates.
Here are 6 ways to apply B2C best practices to B2B communications.
Get specific. B2C brands know exactly who they're talking to, and they speak to them in targeted messages that resonate deeply. Even if you're capable of working with a wide range of clients, tailor your communications to them instead of spamming them with general messages. What's more, you might even decide to focus in on a more specific target once you realize they're comprising a significant portion of your business.
Talk like a human. Trade meaningless business jargon for straightforward messages your customers can understand that speak to what they actually care about. Instead of telling them you're a disruptive market leader, show them how you can solve their problems in a real way. How can you help them work better, save time, and support their bosses? Answering these questions in a significant way will show them how you can provide a direct benefit.
Make it personal. Cold calling and spamming your prospects will only turn them off. Instead, warm them up through a multi-touch campaign that speaks to their personal needs and preferences, and if they're in the niche you serve well, they'll respond much better than if you sent them a mass communication.
Develop natural influencers. Surveys show that 55 percent of B2B buyers rely more on peer recommendations when making purchases than they did a year ago, and 53 percent are upping their utilization of social media to research vendors and solutions. Your satisfied customers are your greatest advocates and are likely tangentially connected to your most promising prospects, so make sure you track them down for testimonials and referrals after a particularly successful campaign. You might even sweeten the deal further with an affiliate discount.
Build online communities. B2B has traditionally lagged behind B2C in tech, social, and digital adoption. But all of those things are crucial in supporting an online community that rallies around your brand. Even for companies that are primarily in the business of attracting other businesses, social media can play an important role, as two-thirds of their potential market base relies on it as a source of information about possible business purchases. Plus, creating this community gives you access to additional audience insights you can leverage in your communications. It can also help you connect the dots of your customer journey, bridging online and offline to create a personalized buying experience.
Support, and attract, connected employees. Second, only to your customer brand advocates are your employee brand advocates. By cultivating a positive, enjoyable workplace and brand, you increase the chances employees will share their love for their job with friends and potential clients.
At the end of the day, B2B marketers have to adapt to the connected consumer's constantly morphing expectations, offering them the products and services they need in the ways they want to receive them.
They also ought to remember they're not just delivering services to their connected consumers - they're hiring them, they're selling to them, they're getting investments from them, and they're competing with them.