Historically, B2B and B2C Marketing have occupied two distinct paths in the business world. Part of it had to do with access: Before broadband internet, B2B companies didn’t have an easy way to connect directly with potential customers and try out different marketing techniques. This obstacle has long since disappeared. Marketers now have access to countless tools designed to help them engage with target audiences.
But access wasn’t the only thing separating B2B and B2C marketing. Another important factor was the perceived difference in the state of mind between the two. Unlike B2C, which is more rooted in emotional marketing, B2B marketing has traditionally been seen as a logical effort – focused more on raw numbers and value and less on emotion and brand awareness.
But that distinction has also changed. Emotions are no longer considered irrelevant in B2B marketing and in many cases can in fact be used to increase sales and improve relationships with customers. Evidence suggests that the behaviors of buyers in business and consumer markets are starting to look similar. On 71% of B2B companies start their search process with Google – the same method consumers use to find new products.
And in some cases, B2B tactics might be even better suited for emotional marketing than B2C strategies. In a recent study, B2B brands have been shown to generate higher emotional connections than their B2C counterparts. The relationships built in B2B, even professional ones, often create a real emotional bond between companies.
Today, businesses and consumers alike want to buy from brands that connect with them. Value is always a top priority, but it’s not the only priority. Emotional qualities such as engagement, personalization, and fun also affect shopping. With that said, it might be time for B2B business leaders to consider taking a page or two from the B2C Marketing Manual.
Decide if B2C Marketing is Right for You
Before you start exploring B2C tactics, determine if it is the right movement.
Right from the start, you’ll want to know your audience members and what they expect from you. If you’re a security software company that primarily caters to high-end banks and law firms, for example, your clients might not be particularly interested in contacting you through Facebook Live.
On the other hand, if you’re a business that offers a variety of software solutions and has a less specialized audience, a more personal approach may be perfect for growing your brand and building emotional connections with customers. Once you’ve determined the audience you’re trying to reach and what prompts them to respond, you can decide if B2C tactics are right for your business.
How to adopt a B2C marketing strategy
If you do decide to incorporate B2C elements into your B2B marketing, it is essential that you implement these tactics correctly. Here are four ways to make sure your journey through B2C strategies strengthens your business:
1. Research your audience.
Never underestimate the importance of knowing your audience. After all, it doesn’t matter what B2C marketing tactics you use if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach. To research your audience, start by looking at the competition.
Once you’ve done that, extract the existing user data. Even if you haven’t been particularly proactive in gathering information from your users, you probably asked them a few basic questions when they first signed up. Seemingly trivial information like email address, company, job title, and location can be extremely helpful in identifying your target audience.
From there, contact and talk with real customers. Choose ten people and contact us, either by videoconference or by phone. It’s a great way to supplement your research and get personal touchpoints for fill gaps in your internal data reports. This exercise should also reveal what makes your offers unique to consumers. A complete picture of your audience is a crucial part of effective emotional marketing.
2. Make a plan.
Once you’ve completed your research and identified an audience that might be receptive to B2C marketing, it’s time to create an action plan. You don’t have to do anything overly ambitious or complex – at least to get started. Instead, focus on how your marketing plan will complement your organization’s existing goals and how you will roll out that plan to consumers.
A B2C marketing plan shouldn’t just be a carbon copy of your B2B strategy. This corporate template canvas can help you determine who you are trying to sell to and which message will be most effective in reaching them. It breaks down a variety of elements, including your value propositions, cost structure, customer segments, and planned channels. Getting the big picture of where your business is and what you hope to accomplish with your marketing strategy can be extremely helpful when planning something new.
Just as important as nailing the How? ‘Or’ What your plan is clear Why you think your B2C marketing tactics will benefit the business. Your CEO will likely ask you how this plan will generate income – make sure you have an answer ready.
3. Start small.
Now that you have an audience and a plan, it might be tempting to dive into it, but now is not the time. At first, it can be easy to overestimate your time and resources and bite off more than you can chew. Your audience may not be interested in B2C marketing tactics at all, in which case you could spend a lot and get very little in return.
Instead, think small. Focus on simple projects, such as updating the language you use when speaking to users to make it more personalized, or changing the colors of your website to evoke specific emotions. These are minor moves, but they can make a big difference in how people view your business.
Once you’ve updated your language to be more in tune with emotional marketing tactics, look for other small areas that you can improve. For example, start create a story around your products that will resonate with consumers, or write more emotional case studies about real customers and their stories. See what kind of responses these changes elicit, then you can either scale things up or cut your losses and try a different approach.
4. Give it time.
In a perfect world, you will instantly see big gains from your new B2C marketing strategy. But in reality, it will take some time to see the fruits of your labor. Its good! Just make sure everyone – from your marketing team and CEO to your shareholders – knows the results won’t be instantaneous.
If you can, plan when you can share the results. Times may vary, but evaluation of results all shifts is generally a safe bet. And remember, it’s better to plan later and deliver earlier than the other way around. While everyone else is waiting, be sure to continuously track and measure everything, which will help you know what is working and what is not. From there, you’ll need to iterate accordingly, expanding the good and getting rid of the bad.
As B2B marketing becomes more emotionally driven and access to consumers becomes easier than ever before, the line separating B2B and B2C will blur further. It gives businesses new ways to find and retain customers. Don’t get started without first developing a strategy. Done right, you can access the best of both worlds and take your business to new heights.