It’s perhaps not surprising that business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketing are usually seen as separate disciplines. After all, that’s the way agencies have often promoted them, with each requiring specialist knowledge.
But separating the two too distinctly, risks overlooking the overlaps and synergies that are there if you dig a little deeper.
Consumer and business marketing have always been two sides of the same coin and there are things each can learn from the other.
Whether it’s understanding your audience, the essential importance of creativity or having expertise across touchpoints and platforms, effective marketing always requires the same fundamental principles, regardless of who you are targeting.
The stereotypes that aim to oversimplify either side – whether it’s downplaying the creativity required for B2B or marking B2C as unsophisticated or frivolous – have never rung less true.
Nevertheless, different client aims and focusses lead to different developments and innovations; by only focussing on one specialism these can be easy to ignore.
At TMW, we offer clients the best of both worlds, with a truly integrated offering with collaboration between specialists at its heart. In that spirit, we put our heads together across TMW and TMW Business to offer up some key examples.
What B2B can learn from B2C
Understand the human
At TMW, we believe that the key to effective marketing is a deep understanding of human decision-making and behaviour. This means creating communications that understand emotion and motivation, and drive action. This doesn’t change regardless of whether you are trying to persuade an FMCG consumer or a decision-maker within a business.
B2B marketing often gets caught up in job titles and functional roles, but appreciating the person holding them is the way to develop an approach that delivers real empathy and engagement. People at work are humans too, and they require real human insight.
Fortune favours the brave
There is often a perception that B2B marketing plays it safe; preferring to err on the side of caution and taking the road that’s well travelled. This doesn’t need to be the case; the corporate side should still be encouraging clients to experiment with new channels and bolder, more creative messaging.
Taking a breath and trying something new will pay off for brands feeling more confident than their peers, just as it does in consumer comms.
Building for the long term
B2B often values one thing more than anything else: leads. Getting customers fit and ready for a conversation with sales teams is critical to marketing teams in the discipline. However, these rely on shorter-term tactical projects.
B2B marketers also need to ensure that they are building a brand to deliver long-term sales growth. Put simply, a company that has a brand that is recognised and understood is in a much stronger position to generate leads than an organisation that doesn’t. Building such a brand requires longer-term strategic and emotive thinking, but all of the evidence suggests that it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run.
Harnessing the power of influencers
One of the biggest changes in the industry in recent years has been the rise of influencers. However, the effectiveness of using the right influencers for a brand is still occasionally undervalued. This is true in B2C circles, but more so when it comes to B2B.
According to a recent neuroscientific study, influencer ads outperform even TV ads in the key metrics of memory encoding and emotional intensity; being 87% more effective in the former and a whopping 277% more effective in the latter.
Moreover, the evidence shows that you don’t need to rely on a mega-celebrity in the mould of Kylie Jenner to have this impact. In fact, research shows that using niche influencers, defined by specialism rather than audience size, is more impactful than using those with very large audiences.
The types of influencers will differ, as will the channel mix, but there is no doubt there are opportunities for clients in both marketing disciplines.
What B2C can learn from B2B
Going smaller to go bigger
In B2C, suggesting you spend your entire budget marketing to talk to just a small handful of your customers might seem a very bold strategy indeed. In B2B, it’s becoming a far more appetising option for brands in the form of account-based marketing (ABM).
Paying close attention to your most loyal and valuable customers, providing them with highly personalised VIP treatment could home-grow you a vocal advocate, create an influencer, or make a profitable segment even more so.
Measuring sanity, not vanity
We all love seeing the number of likes and comments on a post tick up and up. But there’s a reason they’re not captured in the end-of-quarter financial reports. Marketing now more than ever must prove its worth, and that requires making the link between budget and revenue as clear as possible. And that means working with clients to form robust measurements of the value of all of your marketing output.
Whether you’re trying to directly push to purchase or perform a less tangible (but still vital) brand-building role, everything has to be building towards a bigger picture.
Looking at the performance metrics of your campaigns to understand which are the ones that are ultimately influencing the balance sheet is a sound step in getting marketing seen as it should be: an asset, not a cost.
Add meaningful value
Being relevant and aspirational is one thing. Being useful is quite another.
In B2B, education and knowledge sharing are vital ways to not only support potential customers, but also introduce products in a softer more compelling way. If they remember finding out something genuinely new and practical from you, they’re more inclined to remember what you’re selling as well.
Creating content that not only engages but informs and adds benefits to the recipient is a sure-fire way to add value to comms, whether it’s aimed at a business or a consumer.
Reaching out to wider purchase influencers
One of the biggest challenges in B2B is the fact that multiple heads get a say in any purchases. This is less so of an issue in B2C where the customer and consumer are more likely to be the same individual. However, this is not always the case. On consumer purchase items that require more deliberation – for example a house, a car or (if you’re lucky) a puppy – there are often multiple decision makers in the buying process.
Having messaging that speak to everyone’s needs and behavioural triggers will help them collectively agree to choose a brand over a competitor.
This is just the beginning of a great relationship between TMW and TMW Business.
We’re looking forward to working closely together, sharing what we know and love, and bridging the gap between B2C and B2B to make sure all of our clients get the best of both.