Marketing’s great divide is growing smaller. Although many differences exist between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing, there are growing similarities and lessons to be learnt on both sides. Especially as business buyers behave more and more like consumers, and vice versa.
So what can B2B marketers can adopt from their B2C counterparts?
B2C marketers have long placed customers at the heart of their communications, with advanced targeting and customer personas. B2B marketers are fast catching on, with organisations such as Salesforce pioneering the way with customer communities. Salesforce’s Trailblazer community puts the customer first, in providing support and best practice, moving beyond a traditional buyer-seller relationship to a deeper and more personal interaction.
It also gives customers a sounding board for new product ideas. Having customers consult on product development can boost loyalty and long-term revenue. Customers are more invested in businesses that directly meet their needs and listen to their feedback and suggestions.
Buyer personas are increasingly important and easy to develop, given the amount of data available to each marketer. Using demographic and behavioural data, B2B marketers can develop highly detailed profiles that include customer pain points, desires and challenges. This will inform marketing strategy and develop hyper-targeted campaigns.
The importance of content marketing
Providing value beyond a product or service, through content marketing, can help foster and generate leads. For B2B marketers, this may take the form of a whitepaper, research, infographic, blogs or case study. However, it is also becoming more visual, taking a leaf from B2C marketers’ efforts with how-to videos, product reveals and behind-the-scenes footage. 77 per cent of B2B marketers rank video as an effective content marketing tactic.
B2C brands are often seen telling stories to engage with customers. This emotional strategy is entering the B2B world, with companies like Microsoft using it to drive sales and build reputation. Microsoft shows user stories for many of its services and products, ranging from state-of-the-art Xbox controllers that make gaming accessible to all, to artificial intelligence (AI) that impacts education, farming and architecture. It’s B2B and B2C marketing efforts both benefit from effective storytelling.
Using social media
Social media is a key tool in B2C’s arsenal, with marketers using it to engage with their audiences, understand consumer sentiment, respond to feedback and join in on discussions. For B2B companies, social media is becoming more important as marketers understand how it validates a company, enhances reputation and generates leads. Indeed, 84 per cent of C-Level and VP-Level buyers are influenced by social media in their purchasing decisions. So, having no social media presences could seriously undermine other B2B marketing and sales efforts.
Choosing the right social media channels is another lesson B2B can learn from B2C marketers. Determining whether your business should have a presence on LinkedIn, Instagram or Reddit is just as important as using social media in the first place. B2B marketers must think about where there audience are and how they can reach them via social.
Best of both worlds
Collaboration across both sides of the marketing divide will enhance communications for businesses and consumers. This can only be a good thing. Technology such as smartphones and social media are steadily blurring the lines between business buyer behaviour and consumers. B2B marketers who pay heed to this shift, by learning from their B2C peers, will find their communications perform better, with higher return-on-investment (ROI), customer retention and loyalty.