B2B or B2C? 4 Tactics That Work for All Audiences
Warranted or not, B2B marketers get a bad reputation. Our products, services, and industries are frequently labeled as “boring,” and fun and flashy campaigns are typically reserved for our consumer-focused counterparts.
Partially to blame is that while B2C marketers work to appeal to people’s emotions and personal interests, B2B marketers have the less “sexy” job of catering to people’s sense of practicality and logic, so they can move their businesses forward.
However, what many B2B marketers don’t realize is that we too can leverage these emotion-stirring tactics to bond with our prospects more deeply and create memorable campaigns.
The most effective B2B marketers recognize that businesses don’t actually sell to other businesses; no matter what the product is, it comes down to people selling to other people. The brands below are great examples – take a look and get some inspiration for your next campaign.
Be relatable. Be engaging. Be human.
Twitter friendly B2C brands like Denny’s, Digiorno, and IHOP realize that unless you provide some sort of value, it’s difficult to persuade a potential customer to engage with your brand. For many of these brands, this value exchange comes in the form of fun commentary on current events and pop culture to win over audiences.
Their social media accounts are designed to mimic the experience of interacting with a friend, rather than a company that’s trying to sell to you. This tactic works well to build trust and inspire positive feelings about the company.
But selling pancakes isn’t quite the same as selling enterprise software, so of course it’s less common to see B2B brands using a humorous approach on social. However, to be successful, businesses still need to provide real value to their audience.
B2B companies like Zendesk, Dropbox, Slack, and MailChimp have all found a good balance between relatable and professional. For example, Dropbox tapped into a trending TV show (Silicon Valley) and mixed in a little bit of industry humor that their B2B customers could identify with.
Similarly, Lattice Engines spoofed the popular Christmas movie Love Actually and dubbed it “Leads Actually,” chronicling a marketing and sales love story during the holidays.
Run a contest or giveaway
Contests and giveaways are well-established marketing tactics for B2C companies. For example, Stubhub recently ran a highly publicized promotion where they gave away $5,000 and a summer job documenting music festivals on social media.
This was a big win for Stubhub, but there’s a takeaway lesson here for B2B companies as well. The key is to offer an exciting opportunity or experience that your audience otherwise wouldn’t have.
We saw a good example of this strategy at earlier this year at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas. Before the event, four companies (Engagio, EverString, Vidyard, and InsideView) sponsored a contest to upgrade one lucky conference attendee to a VIP suite at the MGM Grand.
While contests and corporate swag are standard at B2B events, the excitement they generate is generally limited to the show floor. This giveaway was different because it started building buzz and brand recognition before the event even started.
Provide reviews and testimonials
As far as offering customer reviews, Amazon is a clear winner in the B2C space. They recognize that most buyers trust their peers over brands, so they encourage customers to submit reviews, rankings, and even photos after they’ve made a purchase on their site. This user-generated content builds credibility and trust for potential buyers, and helps them validate their purchase decision.
On the B2B side, case studies and customer references serve a similar purpose. One company that excels at creating this type of content is Optimizely. Not only are their testimonials incredibly detailed with statistics and proof points, but they also offer a deep library of them, including internal and external case studies and testimonials broken down by industry. This demonstrates a deep understanding of the customer’s mindset and the considerations they have when researching a new solution.
Each case study walks through the challenges faced before implementing Optimizely, how they were addressed with the product, and the specific results seen, with example images and a step-by-step walk through.
As with Amazon, these reviews help potential buyers feel more confident in their purchase decision, which is essential whether you’re a B2C or B2B marketer.
Gamify the experience
Last year 87% of retailers indicated that they plan to use gamification for customer engagement within the next five years. B2C companies like Starbucks, Target, and Urban Decay use gamified apps to engage customers and persuade them to spend more by offering rewards and exclusive perks.
In B2B, the process is slightly different, but the underlying tactic is still the same: to create a sticky experience that re-engages your audience and builds loyalty. We see this in the form of vendor-sponsored communities (like EMC and SAP), where active users are rewarded and given elite status for participation.
Autodesk decided to take gamification one step further. They developed “Undiscovered Territory,” a game for users who downloaded a trial of their software. The game, intended to convert trial users into customers, gave players the opportunity to “crack the code and discover a hidden city,” and included a leaderboard, points system, and social sharing options.
It was a fun and effective way to encourage users to log in and use the software, and it resulted in a 40% increase in trial usage.
These tactics encompass a variety of marketing tactics: from social media to physical events to case studies, there are plenty of opportunities for B2B marketers to dig deep, get creative, and craft stellar campaigns that resonate with their target audiences.
Each of these examples demonstrates the power of making a connection with your audience on a person-to-person level, whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer. No one wants to be aggressively sold to; by providing genuine value, you can create impactful customer relationships powered by trust and loyalty.
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