27 Jun Why Does B2C Get to Have All the Fun?
When you think of marketing careers, you probably think about Don Draper figures, or offices that are full of cool, creative people who have meetings on beanbags, have arcades in their office and obsessively purchase the latest gadgets. People whose creativity is stymied only by those pesky money-counting so-and-so’s that veto your idea to hire a spaceship to put your client’s logo on the moon (think of the exposure and impressions).
It is true that the marketing industry is full of wonderfully creative people (many works at h2o), who use the latest technology to reach new and existing customers for their clients. Technology like Augmented and Virtual Realities and platforms like Snapchat, Shazam and Instagram mean there are a plethora of new campaign possibilities for brands to interact with their customers. The only limit is your imagination and your budget.
This is all very exciting, however, whilst B2C marketing is the cool, fun character, B2B marketing is seen as the more straight-laced, reserved brother that likes to stick to tried-and-tested principles and is more resistant to change.
The generally accepted view is that B2B needs to be ‘fewer frills, more facts’ than B2C as the target audience is a business who is either buying materials to manufacture products, items to sell on at a profit, or services that facilitate the operation of their business.
You can argue that when selling to consumers, in essence, you are promising that your product will improve their lives, making them a better version of themselves. Whether this is by promising to make them more interesting and/or attractive to their desired sex (which covers a lot of marketing, to be honest).The message is aspirational, and that the brand can assist the consumer in making this dream a reality.
At its core, this aspirational promise can be similar to the core ethos of marketing to businesses. Your product or service promises to improve your consumer’s business.
We do acknowledge that business purchases are generally less involved and based more on logic compared to B2C, which are generally motivated by more emotion (This makes sense; it’s hard to get passionate about photocopying toner). Business customers tend to want to streamline processes and ideally save time and money-Who doesn’t want to make their job easier whilst looking good to their bosses? This is not to say that emotion doesn’t play a role in B2B purchases, these people are still human after all, however, it is likely that there will be multiple people involved in the buying process in addition to a need to justify the purchase to their colleagues and bosses.
Many B2B marketing campaigns tend to focus on their own capabilities without referencing the benefits that they can offer the consumer. This insular focus sounds a bit like that person you meet at a networking event that loves to talk about themselves.
“We offer a great price and are really efficient.”
Whilst your market research may demonstrate that price and efficiency are your target consumer’s most important factors, the focus on your own business can make this statement and campaign seem poorly researched, lazy and so generic it’s unmemorable. It is likely that a number of this hypothetical business’ competitors will be using the same messages.
Taking a leaf out of the B2C mentality, why not opt for an aspirational customer-focussed image showing your product or service creating a beneficial environment to a potential customer? An environment they can aspire to have. This is about knowing who the individual person within your target business is, their goals, what pressures and stresses they face and tailoring your messaging to address them.
This should not go too far, for example claiming your cleaning business can single-handedly help the manager of a local greengrocer transform into the CEO of a Tesco-esque empire. However, knowing your USPs and demonstrating their positive effects on a business is a good place to start.
Knowing your customers and showing your business having a positive impact on them, or demonstrating how good their business can be if they work with you is a far more personalised and relatable message that will resonate with your audience. Give them a glimpse of what their future could be rather than telling people what you do.
In many (not all) B2B campaigns there is a reluctance to embrace new technologies and platforms. This links back to the notion that businesses are not comprised of people. Unless you’re reading this in a dystopian future where the machines have finally risen up and overthrown us, this is not the case and people still make the business decisions.
Your business-to-business market is required to substantiate their purchase through a logical argument, financial scrutiny, and data… this doesn’t mean that there isn’t emotion behind the purchase.
Laura Lake Understanding the Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing
There is definitely scope to include new technology in B2B marketing strategies, as long as the appropriate research has been conducted to establish and profile the key decision makers within your target market. Once you know how this person ticks, you can begin to almost create a B2C strategy that targets them. A new and exciting technology that is being currently being used in B2C can help you to stand out from the crowd and create interest that drives the consumer to your regular logic-filled business proposal. Think Instagram, VR & AR.
B2B marketers must, therefore, think carefully about new technology and their intended audience to ensure that they use it effectively and protect their own ROI. A quick tip: many CEOs probably won’t use a snapchat filter.
Decisions in the B2B buying process tend to be made by more than one person (depending on the size of the business; one man bands obviously don’t apply). This can, unfortunately, taper the effect of emotion in the decision-making process because unless you manage to tap into all parties’ emotions, the success of this approach will depend on the target being able to convince the other stakeholders. This means that the individual must have the required authority and motivation to do this.
Whilst this is not impossible, it is a risk to expect one person to be a brand warrior on your behalf based purely on how you’ve made them feel.
To make the most of your strategy, our advice is to use some of the more B2C approaches to pique your target demographic’s interest, but have some more practical, traditional B2B messages backing it up to appeal to the logical side of the decision maker(s).
B2C is destined to remain the more fun marketing brother as it gets to play more on emotion and definitely represents a more personal, individual relationship with the brand. However, by remembering that you’re marketing to humans in B2B too you can definitely incorporate elements of B2C to help your marketing strategy stand out from the crowd.