B2B Marketing: Why You Need to Think B2C Tactics
There has always been a fixed line between B2B and B2C marketing tactics, but in this age of remote working, and mobile accessibility, I’m not so sure the distinction is viable anymore. I’m not saying that buying for a business is as impulse-driven as consumer sales, but it’s very easy to forget the decision makers in businesses are consumers too and have just as much (if not more) emotional stake in the decision. I know for sure that I have personally made purchase suggestions at Salamandra, based on content I have come across on social or when browsing articles at home.
So, what does that mean for B2B brands? Well for a start, limiting themselves to cold calling is just not enough in today’s market. Even if they do get through to the prospect on the phone (which, we all know can very challenging), they will certainly look up the brand online to see if it is legit. This is where B2C tactics really come into the sale.
Be recognisable: 71% of consumers said it was important that they recognise a brand before they make a purchase. That’s a pretty significant sign that brands need to be getting in front of their audience long before the contact from sales. We’ve all heard the rule of seven – claiming prospective buyers should hear or see the marketing message at least seven times before they buy it from you - but that was invented long before the digital sphere revolutionised marketing. Now with the level of clutter in buyers’ field of view, and the widespread self-education using comparison sites, brands have to make sure they are heard regularly and always with quality offerings. Social media is a great way to do this and reaches a wider audience than you could capture with a traditional email campaign. Cohesive action between sales and marketing teams is vital here, following prospects on social media, taking note of their interests, and posting content relevant to them, all prior to directly approaching for the sale. This makes for a much better chance that they will recognise the brand and that they will make the sale.
Be real: Online and global purchases are a given in today’s market – meaning B2B marketers and salespeople can’t meet every prospect face to face. As such it can be harder to build a personal level of trust in the brand and offering - one way to help with this is to use global platforms such as Instagram, to highlight the ‘behind the scenes’ at the brand. This can not only elevate the worries of the brand’s legitimacy for prospective buyers when they are approached by sales but also can give a great boost to recruitment. Many B2B brands dismiss Instagram marketing as the realm of B2C, but from our experience as a primarily B2B provider at Salamandra, leads have approached us having come across our brand on these traditionally consumer platforms. Let’s be honest here, B2B is often very competitive and buyers frequently have options when it comes to fulfilling their requirements for business services. Due to this, so much decision making comes down to an emotional choice of who they want to work with and can trust. Platforms like Instagram give brands a valuable opportunity to portray that likability. Want some inspiration as to how this can be done effectively? Take a look at Hootsuite on Instagram– it’s funny, human, and still so on-brand.
Entertain with thought leadership: It’s a good step getting communications in front of buyers, but B2B brands also need to make sure that the content they convey is thought leadership material and will keep buyers coming back for more. If B2B providers deliver something useful that aids buyers in their day to day role – be that content that educates on a technical industry topic, justifies a budget decision for internal meetings, or just gives a handy and easily digestible explanation of services, that can be used to pitch the provider to stakeholders – they can save buyers time, and win brand loyalty, before even beginning the sales process. Content has always been a staple of B2B marketing but today being a thought leader in the B2B sphere does not mean being restricted to stuffy white papers. B2B brands really can take a leaf out of B2C’s approach here, in using a lighter tone of voice. B2B service provider @Meltwater have a fantastic twitter feed, regularly posting insightful content in an engaging way. Besides their content being instantly recognisable and on-brand (big brownie points there), the light-hearted tone of voice and visual presentation of information means that I am happy to browse their content both within and outside of work hours.
My takeaway from all of this? If I were in a supermarket looking at two identical products on the shelf – one is from a brand I know, the packaging looks enticing, and I know where it was made; the other is an unknown brand, the packaging looks cheap and inconsistent, and the whereabouts of its origin unknown – I think I know which I’d buy. My question is – why should B2B stakeholders feel any differently? The facts for B2B marketers are that buyers now spend up to 90% of the decision journey educating themselves, before reaching out to the sales team. Brands need to make sure everything buyers find about them, in that 90%, is as on-brand, informative and visually stimulating as they would expect from the B2C communications. Do that, and they might start finding that the digital and social successes stories in the B2C sphere reap the same rewards for them.
Emma Rhodes is a designer at Salamandra UK