Consumer facing businesses have to approach marketing differently than companies who sell to other companies. Despite similarities, the speed, attitude, and objectives are distinct. One of the easiest ways a B2C (business to consumer) brand can screw up its marketing is modeling its on successful B2B (business to business) models. We point out frequently the distinction (and overlap) between product-based and service-based businesses. Now look at how B2C marketing is different than B2B:
Friction is Evil
Consumer audiences act more quickly, on the whole, than their corporate counterparts. This implies having a call to action that is specific as possible. Not “contact me” or “let’s get started” but say exactly what you want them to do (right down to what to click on) and what they should expect (precisely) when they do it. Most consumers shun the ‘exploratory call’ and respond to minimal friction between them and the buying behavior. If all you have is a contact page with a form or generic mailing list, you’re geared more for B2B than B2C marketing. In corporate / B2B marketing, there’s no buy-now button. In your B2C marketing, you need to get even more refined than that.
Empathy is Gospel
Everyone buys based on self-image – corporations and consumers both. The difference is that consumers tend to buy on that basis first, whenever it’s not about lowest price. You have two options for roads to plow – lead from the bottom (go for cheapest commodity) or from the top (build a relationship with consumers as a brand). Brand-consumer relationships are built partly from recognition but mostly from empathy. You must not merely understand, but also respect and feed the 6 psychological needs of your constituency. That feeding requires a steady stream of authentic, thoughtful content – which is just a fancy word that means “you’ve got to say something beyond click here and buy now”. Either reducing empathy to mere emotion, or else not marketing to that full range of psychological needs, is a key mistake B2B marketers can make when crossing over.
Recognition is Paramount
Repetition can be overrated (people are smarter than we credit them for), and recognition is a factor in B2B marketing too. But enough repetition of your brand identity, imagery, and voice, solidifies the perception that you’re not an instant pop-up shop that’s going to be fly-by-night. In other words, recognition doesn’t equal reputation (we all recognize the names of some major oil companies and GMO food vendors that aren’t doing well in polls) but it is a major contributing factor. A brand we don’t recognize, standing on the street corner of the virtual market, hurling pitches will not be trusted. In fact, it’s the aforementioned empathy and authentic engagement with an audience that actually creates the conditions for you to become recognizable. Even if you throw a really high ad budget at brand recognition, those efforts are vastly improved (easier and less costly) because of any real relationship you can build with an audience you’re simultaneously growing.
The Killer Consumer Three
In short, all 3 factors are the keys to B2C marketing. 1. Design your calls to action (CTAs) to spell out exactly what the consumer can expect (make it easy). 2. Cultivate a relationship between your brand and the full range of attitudes that make a consumer a whole human being, not a mere Pavlovian responder who comes to the cattle call of a pitch. And 3. Get your consistent brand image, voice, and content in front of people repeatedly, so they know you’re there and not going anywhere soon. Kill friction, focus on empathy, drive recognition, and you’ll win.
By contrast, B2B sales are driven by a slower, long-term process of building an ‘insider’ type of relationship – think “preferred vendor”. The friction in the process is actually part of the vetting process, by which a corporation becomes comfortable going forward with a brand. The decision is emotional, perhaps even more than B2C relationships, which are more about empathy than emotion. In B2B, stakeholders have their positions, credibility, and reputations to manage in an organization. If the decision threatens any of those, they stall. With B2C, it’s more about integrating into their lifestyles, their desires about the world, their moral outlook, and their sense of self.
For help nailing down a marketing strategy that actually fits your company’s objectives, audience, and marketplace like a glove, bring on MadPipe. We’re B2B, of course, and help both B2B and B2C clients reach their audiences more effectively.