It's OK To Be A Copycat: What B2B Marketers Can Glean From B2C  

Imitation is the highest form of flattery but in the case of marketing, it makes sense for B2B to take on attributes of B2C.

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May 11, 2021

B2B marketing couldn’t be more different from B2C, right? 

Not anymore. The hard line that once separated the dry, pragmatic realm of B2B marketing from the colorful, expressive world of B2C marketing has now blurred. This is primarily because business purchasing has changed. The modern B2B decision maker is highly independent and expects the same seamless, self-guided experience as if personally shopping online. Based on research from Accenture Interactive, 61% of all B2B purchases start online instead of over the phone or in-person. Not to mention, B2B customers now progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before ever engaging a sales representative (Forbes).

In response, B2B marketers are shifting their strategies to incorporate the same elements and tactics that had been traditionally used in B2C. Nearly 90 percent of B2B organizations agree they need to be just as focused on customer experience as their B2C counterparts. 

Here’s five ways B2B marketers can start duplicating consumer marketing tactics that will translate to increased reach and influence. For the complete list of strategies, download the full eBook: Winning B2C Strategies Every B2B Marketer Should be Implementing.

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#1 Personalization 

Even though you may be selling to a business, the decision maker is still a human. There’s an assumption that B2B purchase decisions are guided strictly by what maximizes business value, but this has proven to be a misconception. In fact, Google research found that B2B purchasers are almost 50 percent more likely to buy when they recognize a personal value in that product or service. 

Data-driven marketing helps you build accurate and extensive profiles of customers and potential customers, allowing for the type of greater personalization we have come to expect and appreciate from consumer marketing. Amazon is often cited as the masters of this personalized customer experience, which presents shoppers with seamless paths to purchase and recommendations tailored to the individual shoppers. 

By using segmentation, you can create personalized buying journeys that get to the heart of what the potential customer needs and wants – not just for the business, but on a personal level. Then, speak to those wants and needs, not just about your product features (in other words, putting the customer at the center of the marketing as opposed to the product). It’s easy for B2B marketing to take the boring route of listing out facts or specs about the product or service but illustrating how it improves the life of the buyer greatly increases the likelihood of closing a deal.

#2 Storytelling 

Storytelling is as old as humanity, and it has long been a buzzword in consumer marketing, but there’s also plenty to be gained by business marketers taking a page from this book. As we mentioned earlier, studies show that prospects do more than half their research online before talking to a sales rep. This, of course, is the new nature of readily available and always-on information through the internet. 

Thus, potential customers may already know about your product; now they need to know about your business. As previously mentioned, decision makers are real people with human emotions. That’s why branding has become more important than ever in B2B marketing. It’s not just about your product or service, it’s about your company and what it stands for, where it comes from and how it aligns with the prospect. 

This is accomplished by leveraging the power of storytelling. And not just the story of your company, but the story of how your company has helped others and how it can help this specific buyer, individually and for the business, in the big picture and the immediate. Massive brands like Disney and Coca-Cola are gurus at storytelling, but you don’t have to be one of the biggest names on the planet to be effective at it. Case studies are a popular and effective vehicle for sharing stories to prospects, illustrating to those potential buyers how your company or product has helped others solve issues or what you company stands for. Decision makers can relate to the pain points of their peers and relaying these success stories builds confidence that you can do likewise for them.

#3 Creating Advocates & Influencers

Word of mouth has long been one of the most effective forms of advertising that’s free for every business. Social media has elevated that concept to a completely different level by turning happy customers into advocates. Think of people posting pictures of their new Air Jordan shoes, or Apple enthusiasts proclaiming their excitement over new product announcements. 

But you don’t need to be Nike or Apple to benefit from social influencers. More than ever, people are looking at customer reviews and the experiences of other people to help guide their purchase decisions, and that filters into B2B marketing as well. Your organic advocates are modern “word-of-mouth” marketing and can be extremely influential. Encourage them to share the positive experiences they have with your company. Don’t be above putting reviews or customer comments on your website or even print collateral. 

Social media platforms were once considered a tool primarily conducive for B2C marketers, but with the growth in LinkedIn and creative approaches to reaching audiences, B2B marketers are finding utility in these social channels. By the beginning of 2020, more than 80% of global B2B marketers were using LinkedIn and Facebook, and it’s likely that effects from the COVID pandemic have pushed even more B2B companies into social channels.

#4 Leveraging Emerging Platforms & Technologies 

Consumer marketing is often quick to jump at fads and shiny objects while business marketing tends to be slower at piling onto marketing bandwagons; however, there is something to be said for leveraging emerging technology. 

Foremost, this means keeping up with the latest digital customer experience. Make sure your website provides quality CX design that is user-friendly and intuitive. You can also dip your toes into technologies that show promise for enhancing such digital experiences, like chatbots. As artificial intelligence gains traction, automated offerings like chatbots can provide personalized experiences to customers anytime, day or night. 

Technology such as voice search is now a mainstay in consumer buying behavior. Recent studies show that 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day and this number is expected to rise significantly in coming years. As consumers continue to utilize voice queries more in their daily lives, it will – like so many other habits have – infiltrate their business buying activities as well. 

Buyers, whether as consumers or in their professional roles, are frequently encountering and exploring new digital experiences and will likely appreciate them from your marketing. Just make sure you’ve done your due diligence before investing in a new technology or platform.

#5 Mobile 

As soon as it was clear smartphones would be in most pockets, consumer marketers started seeking how to exploit mobile devices to their benefit, whether through banners, SMS or apps. But mobile devices aren’t just used for playing games on the subway. Smartphones have been a game-changer for business. 

Company leaders are as agile as ever and conducting business on these devices. Approximately 92% of executives own a smartphone and 77% report using their smartphone to research products and services for their business. As a result, it’s important that your marketing translates to the mobile environment. Make sure your website is mobile responsive and fully functional on phones and tablets. Have versions of collateral and other materials that work well on these devices so your best can be in front of a prospective buyer on the go. 

Buyers today won’t wait on you – you have to meet them where they are, and often they’re on mobile devices.

Final Thoughts 

While B2B and B2C marketing will always have their differences in terms of price points, sales cycles and buyer personas, how they market and acquire customers will continue to look more and more alike. So, don't be shy. It’s OK to be a copycat! 

To start implementing these tactics and techniques into your marketing strategy, speak with one of our consultants today.

Multiview connects brands to their target audiences through digital media. As a leading digital publisher and marketing company for more than 20 years, Multiview helps over 1,200 associations and 11,000 companies find and connect with millions of professionals every day. By leveraging our first party data on over 10 million B2B professionals across 30 industries, we deliver targeted advertisements to unique market segments thereby helping brands to maximize their advertising budgets and achieve their growth goals.

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