As B2B marketers, we’re always looking for the next channel, tactic, or piece of technology that will make our lives easier, enhance our marketing campaign, and bring in more customer leads. At times, we even entertain strategies used by our B2C contemporaries, either by specifically researching B2C marketing tactics or simply gaining awareness of their use.
In some ways, marketing is marketing. In other ways, B2C marketing is very different from B2B, and not all tactics will transfer. The B2C customer is a very different audience than the B2B customer, with different needs and motivations. Talented, intuitive marketers can find many creative ways to successfully target each customer type using marketing automation tools to support a solid digital marketing roadmap in order to please the consumer, while adhering to the business model.
Using a bad fit B2C marketing tactic for a B2B audience can have a range of repercussions, from wasting part of a marketing budget to losing the trust of your customer base because a campaign went sideways.
To create and maintain a solid content marketing strategy to go along with your custom business model, stay away from the following B2C marketing tactics and trends.
B2C Marketing Strategies to Avoid
Social Media Live Streams
A past April the Giraffe Facebook Live stream kept the US waiting round the clock for over three weeks for a baby giraffe birth, but does this sort of content translate to B2B? Holding a Facebook Live event can bring you lots of views, but the appeal of these events lies in their transience. Customers can pop in and out without you ever knowing they were there. While these events give the illusion of personalization, they remain impersonal — which makes it awfully hard to connect with new prospects.
Do you want to provide great content that shows how your company or product addresses customer pain points? Reconsider your current B2B marketing strategy template. Give a webinar. Speak at a conference. Do something that gives you a follow-up opportunity. Running a webinar through Zoom or another similar service provides valuable feedback about participants and engagement that you just can’t get with Facebook Live.
While many B2C brands use Snapchat to promote their products, users are more likely to look here for shoes, news headlines, and consumer brands than to decide on a new accounting platform. When you look through the Snapchat ad specs, you might think, “Ah, but we can use this! They let you attach content and link to things.” Sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good investment of your time or money?
Think about your target market. Are these the same kind of people who might buy your product? According to Hootsuite, Snapchat users are 60% more likely to make impulse purchases. A B2B marketing effort needs to focus on professional decision-makers — not impulse shoppers.
At the risk of belaboring the point and sounding even more like a fuddy duddy (also, get off my lawn), what about Snapchat Ads? Ads show between stories, and you can connect an article to your video ad (I admit that’s pretty cool), but for business prospects who need deeper information, how much helpful content can you stuff into a 3-10 second video?
I love this app for shopping, looking for recipes, and finding crochet patterns, but like Snapchat, no one is going to find their enterprise CRM or marketing automation tool on Pinterest, because no one is looking for that sort of thing on Pinterest.
Keep your target audience in mind, and spend your time and marketing budget elsewhere. In addition to its ocean of spam (and even a couple hundred Spam recipes), Pinterest is also one of the worst offenders for Dark Social.
Free Offer With Purchase
You know that car lot that gives away a free turkey at Thanksgiving with every new car, or promises $1,000 cash back? That tactic works with consumer products because marketers are trying to convince the customer to make a large initial investment. It doesn’t work with B2B brands because:
- You should be offering a free trial anyway.
- You should be working off a subscription model or some form of recurring payment plan which will net more revenue in the long run.
- It makes your product seem chintzy if you have to bribe people to buy it.
- What is a business going to do with a turkey (or a set of Taylor Made golf clubs, or a branded canvas tote)? Offer something of value instead, like premium product support.
Crowdsourcing Product Ideas
B2C companies love to poll the masses to choose the next new flavor, color, or product design. This has resulted in Boaty McBoatFace, cappuccino potato chips, and significant buzz for the companies involved, but how do you turn this into something that works for a B2B market? You don’t.
Want to add a new feature to your product? Talk to your power users, conduct customer interviews, and use a scientific approach to product testing. Crowdsourcing your product can lead to flash and fizzle popularity when you want sustained growth.
Business is business, and while sales contests are fun motivators for your team, sweepstakes and idea contests really don’t have a place among B2B customers. Work with truth and honesty, and be up-front about your product. You can have fun without relying on gameshow tactics.
VR and the Metaverse
Don’t simulate good sales, make them. A 360-degree customer experience in B2B is fun and engaging and still defined as providing good service and a great product. Instead of building/wasting your marketing budget on a high-tech simulation immersive experience for business customers, spend that money on research and training for your teams instead.
At this point, consumers are weary of ads when they are browsing or using social media. Marketers who want to effectively use PPC’s (pay-per-click) ads in 2022 should reengineer their strategies because of the phase out of third-party cookies. Marketers can shift their approach and alter strategies to use analytics, AI and other useful forms of data-driven digital marketing efforts.
What Works Instead
Build Your Brand’s Authority
Use social media marketing for thought leadership and building relationships. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are still going strong. Follow up your marketing efforts with CTAs, email, and phone calls. Customer loyalty is an easy bet when you gain ongoing attention through this powerful marketing channel social media has to offer.
Use long-form, educational content for digital marketing, like webinars, e-books, and blog articles to build brand trust. Publish your links to these all over social media, and direct interested parties toward contact forms so you can reach out later to individual consumers and businesses and to support customer service efforts.
Influencers Are In
Influencer marketing is hot now with most influencers promoting brands that align with their values. This can be a huge component of any modern marketing strategy. Influencers serve as external marketers, and if the influencer has a big enough following, their recommendations and trend-setting tactics can pay off big for your business through their enormous reach to potential customers and easy promotion of brand awareness.
Embrace Audio and Video
Power up a podcast. Audio is taking a front seat – Podcasts are newer to B2B content marketing and B2C audiences and are a great way to attract the interest of a small business owner where they listen to an experience or learn about something new. Tie that something new to your product or service and you have a good chance of gaining a new B2C and B2B buyer.
Short form video is bigger than ever and works well for B2C content and for B2B business. Using YouTube or Vimeo to host videos you publish elsewhere will make it easier for people to engage and share. All social platforms support video content now so this is a no brainer for clever content marketing.
Storytelling is an engaging and powerful tool for marketers for triggering a purchasing decision by a consumer or a B2B customer. If they can identify with a subject or experience, you will gain their attention over others. Add the element of storytelling to a video or email marketing plan.
Don’t Abandon Classic B2B Strategies
Search engine marketing (SEM) should still make up the bread and butter of your inbound B2B marketing or B2C campaign strategy. Effective SEM goes a long way toward raising awareness and establishing your brand as an authority in the space and cementing brand loyalty.
Email marketing should always be a part of your marketing efforts. Users have the option to opt out and a clever subject line and creative content-driven message is one of the all time favorite marketing tools. An informative and progressive email marketing campaign that provides the right amount of outreach yet does not overwhelm is a smart tool to add to the business model arsenal.
B2B vs B2C Marketing
Business acronyms can be confusing and identifying the differences between the two customer types unclear. Just how different should B2B and B2C marketing efforts be?
A B2B marketer needs to intimately understand the needs and motivations of the B2B customer and how a successful B2B sales effort and cycle works. A B2B consumer has a specific brand awareness trigger and tapping into that universe takes a well orchestrated plan where marketers can stand out in a world saturated by social media marketing campaigns. This includes knowing the product and service inside and out and how it differs from anything else available.
B2C marketers are also innately aware of the needs and motivations of the B2C customer and how a successful B2C brand sparks interest and loyalty in a business buyer. A B2C brand has got to peak interest in a consumer immediately and strive for customer retention in a world where competition is strong.
A successful B2C content marketing effort builds brand awareness instantly and will benefit from B2C marketing automation tools such as social media and targeted social media marketing campaigns. Smart B2C marketing includes modeling and promoting the product and service in detail and stresses how this is the best option out there for a business.
B2B and B2C marketing requires marketers to develop custom content for educated consumers who understand they have options whether they are a business or an individual.
B2B vs B2C marketing is a hard combo to navigate, especially for small businesses. A lot of the things B2C marketers do to reach individual consumers just don’t translate well to the B2B company market, where products are more complex, ROI takes longer to realize, and purchase decisions are made by groups of stakeholders as part of a longer sales cycle.
Read up on the latest trends and advice offered by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). If you want to strengthen your market presence, focus on creating and promoting valuable content, and build a customer success team that reduces churn and increases account engagement.