If you have been in marketing a while you will remember that the lines between B2C and B2B used to be very distinct. But over the years those lines have blurred with the adoption of digital technology.
Data and technology have shown us that marketing (whether B2C or B2B) is about more than targeting another number or account and that consumers and businesses are both looking for human connection.
While it’s still important for marketers to understand the fundamentals of B2C vs B2B marketing, modern marketers need to look at the places where B2B and B2C overlap to more effectively market to their audiences.
Person-to-person marketing looks beyond B2C vs B2B and shows you how it's possible to learn B2B and B2C to your advantage. Here are some of the strategies that have value for both B2C and B2B.
The Harvard Business Review compiled 30 years of data and has used it to identify 40 fundamental “elements of value” that B2B customers use when making a decision.
They divided these elements into five categories
The compiled research found that B2B buyers are not as heavily focused on the numbers as you might first think. Beyond price, specifications, or regulatory needs, a product being able to enhance the buyer’s reputation or reduce anxiety also are large influencing factors in purchasing decisions.
Research from Deloitte also supports these findings. Over three years, their research found that organisations that focus on creating a ‘human experience’ were twice as likely to outperform competitors in terms of revenue growth.
A ‘human experience’ meant that businesses were focusing on how to align to the values of their customers, workers, and partners.
Appealing to the rational side of B2B buyers can work for immediate activity but to gain a long-term competitive advantage B2B brands still need to connect with their audiences on a human level and build connections based on emotion.
So, now we know B2B is not quite as different from B2C as you may have originally thought, let's take a look at some areas of your marketing strategy that they may overlap.
Something that B2B marketers have often avoided is focusing on the emotional needs in business purchases. As marketers, addressing the business rationality of what is being sold to B2B clients often takes priority and the marketing campaigns forget to share in the excitement and enthusiasm of what the client is working towards.
B2B can learn from B2C that focusing on the human element will help drive sales. B2B marketing is just as much about customer experience as B2C.
As a business supplier, you are missing a trick when you don't think about the amount of emotion that goes into making a large B2B purchase and the change that it has within an organisation.
Business decisions have to be rational, but they are also impacted by emotion as we saw from the HBR research.
If you fail to show emotional intelligence during the sales process you may appear too cold to your audience and damage your relationship with them. They will feel as if they are doing business with a faceless entity rather than a human being.
What are the benefits of your product or service? In B2B marketing this needs to be clearly communicated. Bonus points if you can also communicate the benefit to their end consumer.
This is where B2B and B2C overlap. When you are marketing to consumers, you need to show your audience why they should pick your brand over a competitor.
The arguments may be presented differently. For example, for B2C you may go for a higher entertainment value whereas with B2B you may take a more educational approach. However, the end goal is the same.
With B2B when you are also trying to communicate the value to the end consumer you need to think about those consumers.
Successful marketers need to look beyond B2B or B2C labels. While business decisions are typically more rational, the people making those decisions are human and experience emotions – they don't solely operate by numbers. As a B2B seller, you need to start focusing on more marketing person-to-person rather than business-to-business.
See inspirations here:
Do your content marketing efforts need a boost? Streams is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to quickly discover, understand & publish the best performing content to drive engagement and business growth. Sign up for a 14 day free trial today!