Applying B2C Principles to B2B Campaigns

We all know that running a B2B business requires strategic elements and processes that differ drastically from those that drive a B2C business. But what if some components of successful B2C campaigns could be effectively translated to B2B?

As B2B marketers, we approach businesses as a whole, and view the people running them as a unified collective. B2C marketers, on the other hand, embrace the consumer on an individual level. Turns out that those of us in the B2B camp could actually stand to take a page out of the B2C handbook. Here are a few smart ways to make this work.

Target Needs, Not Industries

B2C campaigns are usually created around volume, but are precisely targeted to fit the needs of different people. Individuals, personality characteristics, and in-depth demographics are taken into account in order to make the consumers happy. B2B campaigns typically sell to niche verticals, so their focus is on the large-scale needs of an entire industry or the underlying pressures within a corporation.

B2B marketers should try viewing the audience they're hoping to engage as being made up of countless individuals with very unique needs. They should reach beyond focusing on a vertical and zero in on people. This can be done by identifying different contacts—be it the CMO, CEO, or marketing manager—within each targeted organization and drilling down to those contacts' distinct needs, rather than lumping them together under the umbrella of "X" business. You can then feed these contacts into your funnel and view them as independent consumers who must be nurtured in order to be converted.

More at Your Fingertips

A common—and valid—concern among B2B marketers is that they have less to work with than their B2C counterparts. And it's actually true in most scenarios. Businesses that use B2C campaigns are usually big players with countless resources, while B2B-driven campaigns are often run by smaller-scale companies. This often equates to B2C companies being able to roll out grandiose campaigns with high-quality creative wrapped around them, and personalized messages delivered throughout, while the B2B crews hang their heads and say, "Yeah, well—I actually have a budget." The good news is that B2B marketers now have more tools available to them—and at a price that is not prohibitive. The rising swell of free online marketing tools, as well as cost-effective paid tools, gives you greater accessibility to B2C-style campaigns with hardly any of the cost or personnel that used to be needed to pull them off. B2B campaigns can now function with the automated, streamlined approach that B2C businesses take, with revenue that follows the same parallel. Tools like marketing automation, social listening, and social promotion platforms allow you to play like the big boys, but on a much smaller budget. Let the technology scale you, not the budget line items behind mega staffs and advertising dollars.

Be Direct

If we were selling a generic baby product, who would we have better luck closing the sale with—a parent or a staff member at a daycare center? Chances are, the parent. Going directly to the person who can use the product is almost always more lucrative in the long run than going through a middle man. Why? Because the consumer can use it, and can see a benefit to having it. They have a "why" and they feel a need to fill that. It's the same thing with marketers. B2C campaigns focus on selling straight to a consumer, while B2B campaigns' efforts are put toward a decision maker within a company. Taking the B2C route of offering products or services straight to your buyer can actually work very effectively for your B2B company if it is done properly. Take a company that sells CRM software. Instead of pitching the benefits to the business at large or the marketing team as a whole, tailor your approach to the sales team member whose life would be made easier by the software. He'll want it—and he'll do what's necessary to make sure it gets purchased. Often the decision makers are so far removed from the trenches that they may not see the value in what you have to offer, while those in the foxholes won't want to pass it up. Go straight to them first, and you'll quickly find out why B2C campaigns can be so rewarding.

When it comes down to it, people don't buy products based on titles, roles, businesses, or fancy pitches laden with marketing copy. They buy based on what a product will do for them. They don't see software—they see a solution to that one problem that wastes their time every day. They don't see a brand-new scanner—they see a way to get those PDFs to their clients cleanly and quickly. By embracing the mentality that you're ultimately marketing to people (which is, by the way, essentially how B2C campaigns operate), you can tailor your conversations and efforts around how to help your buyers and not just sell to them. Be the B2B that you are, but start thinking like a B2C, and eventually you'll start earning like one.

Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD, which he founded in 2009 with the vision of transforming traditional marketing through the use of marketing automation and CRM solutions. He can be reached at jgray@leadmd.com.

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