Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies have long been on the social media bandwagon, and business-to-business (B2B) firms are quickly realizing that social media use is critical to finding and engaging with clients. But social isn’t everything: Sometimes B2Bs need to go back to the marketing basics that B2Cs already know.
B2B marketing communications firm Bop Design recently published a series of lessons that other B2B marketers can learn from the tactics and strategies of B2C companies. The first of these is an important rule about B2B marketing: Every buyer and seller is also a consumer.
“Before we were marketing to businesses, we were consumers first,” said Jeremy Durant, business principal for Bop Design. “We each have personal lives, and part of life is buying goods and services, and building and keeping relationships. B2B marketers can fail by not keeping in mind that business prospects and customers are first and foremost consumers.”
A common mistake that B2B marketers make is focusing too heavily on the features of their product or service rather than the emotional benefits. B2C companies, Durant said, understand that people often make purchases for emotional reasons and not because of the features listed on the price tag.
“When you sell on features, buyers are typically more price-sensitive,” Durant said. “B2B marketers need to remind people about the key benefits related to [their] services, such as stress reduction, clarity, focus and time savings.”
Another important lesson to take from B2Cs is that branding still matters. Durant reminded marketers that marketing can’t be all about lead generation, and not everything a B2B firm does needs to result in a potential sale.
“Branding tactics like event sponsorships, outdoor advertising and display ads, which help build brand awareness, can help in long-term lead generation and building relationships,” he said.
But B2C marketing strategies can’t be carbon copied for B2B firms: The longer sales cycle, narrower target market and relationship marketing (as opposed to transactional) of B2Bs means these marketers need tactics to reflect those aspects of their business. However, using B2C marketing as a general set of guidelines can really benefit B2Bs in the long run.
“A B2B marketer will succeed if he or she remembers that … there are triggers and strategies that can be utilized and leveraged from the B2C ‘handbook’ when marketing, selling and building relationships with business professionals,” Durant said.