What B2B Marketers Can Learn From Their B2C Friends

November 18, 2016 •

What B2B Marketers Can Learn From Their B2C Friends

Did you know that the most talked about brand during last year’s Super Bowl was a company that didn’t even run an ad during the big game? Esurance basically took over Twitter in a brilliant social media campaign. Ads airing before and after the game announced that the company was giving away $1 million to a group of winners. To enter, people were directed to retweet Esurance posts. More mentions tallied up as the company used FaceTime to catch winners’ reactions, which were then shared online.

So, what does this have to do with B2B marketing?

An unlikely source might spark an idea for your next big marketing campaign. Maybe it’s an ad you see in a consumer magazine, or maybe it’s an email from your favorite retailer. Content comes from all directions, and if you open your eyes — and your mind — you could find success in an unexpected way. You might not have $1 million to drop, but it might be time to start thinking like a consumer marketer — or at least get some inspiration from one.

B2B marketing, as we know it, targets a professional audience that wants efficiency and expertise. These people are rational and logical in their purchasing. They want to be educated and to build close relationships with brands. On the flip, consumer audiences are looking for entertainment and deals, and their choices are mostly emotionally driven. They like humor, too.

If you’re ready to push the envelope on your next campaign, see if any of these consumer tactics would work for your business. Who knows? Maybe a deal or a little entertainment would do your brand some good.

  • Logo and design
    B2B design sometimes get a reputation for being boring or less adventurous. Consider logos, which ultimately inform the direction for your overall design. For some reason, the creativity of B2B logos often seems stifled. There’s a lot of the same old, same old with straight lines and a professional feel. To establish brand identity and really make an impact on customers, your logo may need to level up. It needs to look great on tradeshow booths and on business cards. It needs to be clear and easy to read. And, it needs a little je ne sais quoi.Logos aren’t inspired overnight, but if yours needs a facelift, check out some consumer examples for inspiration. Then find yourself a great designer who has a lot of experience creating logos. Remember, a logo’s job is not to tell your entire brand’s story. It’s shorthand for your company’s and your brand’s culture and values. Look at Interbrand’s Best Global Brands Ranking for 2016: Apple’s iconic design is used sparingly and effectively, Google’s name as a logo is simple, friendly, and approachable, and Coke uses a font that everyone now associates with its brand. But make sure you don’t get so caught up in the need for a killer logo that you forget about the planning and marketing that are important to reach your goals.
  • Brand voice
    Are your communications stiff and boring? Before you think your B2B brand can’t have personality, step back and realize that your brand voice probably already exists — you just have to get it down on paper. Ask yourself: What’s your company’s story and why was it founded? How do you talk to customers when you’re face to face? Who are your customers and how can you relate? Many B2C marketers are testing the waters with humor (we could all use a little of that right now). Denny’s Tumblr blog (yes, Denny’s has a Tumblr) is clever, quirky, and OK, downright weird. “If you’re constantly losing your keys, the only practical solution is getting a turkeychain.” Maybe humor isn’t exactly right for your line of business, but as you define your brand voice, you may be able to find a way to lighten up when you’re talking about your [insert niche-y topic].
  • Great customer service
    Person-to-person relationships are very important in B2B marketing. You have the opportunity to be transparent, responsive, and helpful in your social interactions, too. Look to JetBlue as a leader that really connects with its followers. The company’s responses to complaints and compliments are almost instant, and it is dedicated to going above and beyond. How are you responding to your audience?
  • An education
    You might not even know this, but your audience needs more information than you’re giving out. It used to be best practice for B2B marketers to hold on tightly to this information (shhh—that piece of machinery costs $100,000). But the B2B audience of today (rational decision-makers) want to have all the product information up front to ensure that the product (or service) will truly help their business. This is something that B2C marketers have mastered. Think about the Amazons of the world and how they are constantly adding more product information to websites. From images to updated pricing, they put it all out there. Buying behaviors have shifted, and digital marketers are kind of replacing the salesperson of yesterday. Are you prepared to take advantage of your customers’ request for more information before they have to ask? You’ll get a more serious buyer as the deal gets closer to official.
  • Tap into emotions
    Your B2B target is laser-focused on your industry and oh-so serious. No impulse purchases here. The decision-making process probably has a few layers and multiple people involved. Think about the B2C customer journey. It’s more creative and frivolous. As consumers, we often value perceived emotional benefits of a product and how it’ll feel. Take Starbucks, for example. The coffee company doesn’t tout the product features but the experience that you get, from the smell of freshly ground coffee to the barista who may (or may not) know how to spell your name. So answer this question before you think B2B should have nothing to do with emotion: What are you selling and why does your audience need it? What is the business result for them if they use your product or service? You have a big opportunity to tell your story, build trust, and earn more business.
  • Do they know you’re out there?
    Maybe most of your content marketing goals are related to lead generation, so perhaps you don’t see brand awareness as an area you have time to focus on, understand, or invest in.B2C marketers are focusing on their own audiences AND increasing their brand awareness at the same time. They build brand awareness into their content strategy. Consider the kind of content brands have created to go viral. Whether it’s a video like this year’s Wrigley Give Extra, Get Extra campaign, or an influencer who shares his or her amazing experience with your brand, try it out. An entire brand awareness campaign might not be necessary, but mixing some brand awareness effort into your overall marketing plan can only help.

At the end of the day, be yourself, but let others inspire you. And if you need help putting your ideas into action, we can help.

About the Author

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

We’re always looking for exceptional, new Right Source talent. See Career Options