Ask a marketer what kind of marketing they do and apart from the generic “digital marketing” you will mostly likely here wither “B2B” or B2C”. I’ve been doing marketing for a decade and in my humble opinion I don’t think either of those acronyms hold true anymore. I would argue that B2B and B2C are dead and buried but most businesses, and marketers, just don’t know it yet. I’ve known my fair share of marketers who say that they specialize in either Business-to-Consumer or Business-to-Business marketing and I admit I considered myself a B2B marketer for many years but, as I looked closer I found something interesting. There is really no difference between marketing to B2B or B2C in the grand scheme of things in terms of how you market to them. Of course, one group will say “hey, our customers are businesses, not individual consumers” I get that, trust me, I really do understand that but, aren’t the people you are marketing to in the business world people also? I believe that while the concepts of B2B and B2C were valid ten years ago, I would now say that truly effective marketing is Business-to-Human (B2H) or even better, and my preference, Human-to Human (H2H).
Businesses need to be cognizant of the human being on the other end of their marketing. Traditional B2C businesses and marketers have the advantage in this new arena and I’ve seen many so-called B2C marketers, marketing professionals familiar with selling to consumers rather than businesses, thrive in the B2B world because they approach the consumer as a person rather than a business entity. They come to the scene already knowing about the concepts of psychographics, customer personas, etc. They know how to market to people. Businesses that sell either products or services to other businesses need to remember that a business is not the one making a decision but it is a person at that business making the decision and signing the check regardless if that person is the CEO or someone else lower down on the foodchain – it’s a person. Let’s look at an example. Say you run a successful office cleaning business. While your clients may have offices, your clients are not the businesses themselves per say. You are marketing to the President or CEO who wants to show off a clean, professional office to clients and employees so you target his emotions of pride of ownership and professionalism to make the case as to why he needs your service. Perhaps he is paying his existing cleaning company too much, in that case you make the case that you are saving him money. In the end, you are dealing with Rich the CEO and not the company as too many marketers do today.
B2B has a reputation of being straightforward, professional and somewhat cold. Strictly no emotion- this is the business world afterall. I think we get too wrapped up in this B2B and B2C split that we forget that we are dealing with a person here and very few business owners and managers are non-emotional and cold -in fact, most that I have met are, how we say “colourful” lol Marketing is about positioning yourself to provide solutions to a problem – in my opinion you can’t do that without looking at the person experiencing the problem. I recently took this approach with a client of mine in the tech field. They sold very time tracking software. Their marketing prior to me was what you would think B2B marketing was. Very formal email blasts, cookie cutter website content, etc. I made the pitch on trying the H2H approach and was approved to test it. We developed customer profiles rather than business profiles for the business, spoke to sales to find out what the common pain points were for the people they spoke to on the phones and edited the website content to reflect those pain points in a more open and emotive manner. We also personalized all email communications so the “From Name” came from an actual person at the company and personalized the content of the email. You know what happened? Open rates quadrupled, click-through rates triples and the conversion rate on the website saw a 200% improvement. These are standard practices in B2C but are rarely found in B2B.
As a business owner myself, I can tell you that a day doesn’t go by that I don’t get an email or phone call from some business trying to pitch me a product or service and unfortunately, they all do the same thing. They speak in terms of the company, not me. In many cases, they look at me as just a business owner, they lump me in that group. They don’t look at me as a 33 year old entrepreneur who built a business from the ground up, is active on social media, loves travelling, a diehard WestWorld fan who loves spending time with family and friends. I’m not simply a “business Owner”. Now if I were to get an email from a business telling me how they’re service would allow me to run my business more efficiently and allow me to get home to spend time with my family while making more money – trust me, I’m all ears. That’s a great goal but there is nothing about me in it at all. Sales people get this well. They know that the key to a successful sale is building a relationship regardless if that relationship is a consumer or a business owner. Its high time marketing follows suit.