As we look forward into the brave new world that constitutes 2017, many online marketing strategies have stayed the same. However, it’s always a good time for a refresher — especially when people keep making the same mistakes over and over again. A few essential differences remain between marketing to businesses and marketing to consumers, so I’ll go over a few key contrasting points here.
Use Social Media
First, it’s vital to realize the importance of social media to any successful marketing strategy. If you don’t utilize your various social channels on a regular basis, and with gusto, you could be faced with losing your customers to some of your competitors. Also, don’t make the mistake of over-thinking your posts, lest they come across as too serious. Chrissy Symeonakis echoes this advice by reminding Intuit blog readers to avoid ‘over-corporatizing’ your posts, and have fun with them instead.
To give you an example, I used to work next to a marketing colleague who was in charge of a client’s Facebook social media posts. He would post the most light, ridiculous memes and giphy-laden posts you could possibly imagine — a talking horse, for example — and they’d go viral! His strategy was proof that in Facebook-Land, the lighter and more ridiculous, the better. Don’t hesitate to search image banks online for the fuzziest puppy and kitten images you can dig up: the extreme cuteness-factor can’t hurt. Also, remember to share your human side, being upfront with your weaknesses and mistakes. Your customers will appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and down to earth with them.
Know Your Competitors
Symeonakis also points out the importance of knowing your competitors and your market. We can learn a great deal by studying the marketing and brand imaging strategies of our competitors — if only to find ways to noticeably differentiate ourselves: how are we able to stand out if we don’t know how to effectively project a contrasting image? Surprisingly, Conductor reports that 25 percent of both B2C and B2B marketers don’t check their competition at all. Additionally, they quote Larry Kim of Wordstream in arguing that “If you’re not doing any type of competitive analysis, it’s likely that your content marketing strategy isn’t as great as it could be.” If one of your competitors has an especially strong, stand-out campaign, it would be worth your while to study their techniques.
Listen to Customer Feedback
In addition, you should utilize customer feedback as the valuable marketing tool that it is: rather than seeing it as criticism, take advantage of the opportunity to glean valuable knowledge from a customer and to improve your image through providing excellent customer service and practicing active, social listening. University of Alabama at Birmingham also champions social listening, calling it “the most transformative tool for mining social media for quantifiable data that can lead to actionable insights.” UAB also writes, “It can inform product developments and service offerings throughout their lifecycle, provide visibility into competitor’s offerings, gauge customer sentiment, and provide real-time metrics on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.”
Don’t Ignore Technology
Furthermore, a number of technology trends have been building momentum for a while, now, and a few of them are bound to pick up steam as we go into 2017: according to The Next Web, they include artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and new devices, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), live streaming video, improved search engine algorithms, and e-commerce in social media. Part of the reason for this switch to more advanced technology is that so much of our time is spent on a mobile device — 65 percent, in fact — compared to 35 percent on a desktop computer, and many emerging technologies are exclusive to smartphones and mobile devices like iPads.
B2B Vs B2C Marketing Strategies
Some of the differences between B2B and B2C marketing strategies and best practices are fairly intuitive. Business managers looking to purchase content are usually in search of specialized knowledge or niche-information in the form of white papers, ebooks, and webinars; whereas traditional customers are more interested in fast consumption of content that is easily attainable and entertaining, such as videos, social media posts, and blog articles. According to Oktopost, the goals and metrics also differ, slightly: while B2B marketers aim for lead generation via web traffic, B2C marketers aim for virality in their social media posts.
Interestingly, one contrast I see tossed around quite a bit is the assertion that B2B purchases are based on logic, while B2C purchases are based upon emotions. I find this fascinating, as it seems as if all purchases are based, at least partially, on emotion. However, I can understand that if customers are thinking in terms of business, they would be more interested in a return on investment (ROI) in order to feel justified in their purchase. It would follow, then, that B2B marketing materials should, in fact, be more in-depth and educational than the marketing content utilized to attract B2C clientele.
The website B2B Marketing offered up a few specific differences between B2B and B2C campaigns that I found useful amid a sea of logic versus emotion posts. One essential difference is product tangibility: that is, B2B campaigns usually sell intangible services, whereas B2C campaigns are more designed for tangible goods and services. Also mentioned were different performance indicators: while B2B marketers are concerned with leads per month, B2C marketers tend to be more interested in sales per month. Lastly, pay attention to the type of keywords utilized by each campaign: while B2B campaigns use many industry keywords, B2C marketers allow for and encourage generic keywords — whatever grabs the audience’s attention, in fact.
And, to cite one last article on the subject, Conversational’s post is all about long versus short, jargon versus simplicity, expertise versus entertainment: basically, light versus serious—to summarize the main differentiating quality. Part of the reason for this is that there are usually no contracts involved with B2C sales, whereas B2B purchases often involve a time commitment and a deeper, more high-level chain of command that is also signing on to the connection between companies.
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I hope you’ve come away from this article with a good sense of the various marketing techniques that are successful, across a number of different platforms and audiences. Hopefully it’s become clear to you that video is king — whether in the form of a barking puppy or a highly informative webinar; good listening is important, regardless of who is speaking; and mobile technology is not going away, so we may as well embrace its related emerging technologies, from VR to IoT.
Remember, you can market anything to anyone. It’s just a matter of learning how to speak their language.