I recently did a Google search on “what B2C marketers can learn from B2B marketing,” but every result centered on how B2B marketers should be learning from innovative B2C marketers (I gave up after scrolling through 3 pages of results). I can’t say I’m too surprised because traditionally B2C marketing has been allowed to push more boundaries, given the nature of their audience. B2C marketing typically evokes emotions, while B2B marketing focuses on highlighting features and benefits.
However, after spending close to 10 years in the B2B marketing world and experiencing some terrible B2C marketing as a consumer, I’d like to switch the script and show you how B2C marketers can learn from B2B marketers.
Customer Service Should be Part of the Main Brand Identity
When I think about reaching out to customer service for any product or service, I can feel my blood pressure rise as I mentally prepare myself for an anxiety-ridden phone call. And sometimes, I’ll try to avoid the call altogether and email customer support instead, except I’ll have to wait days for a response.
According to BI Intelligence, 60% of U.S. consumers have not completed an intended purchase because of a poor customer service experience. That translates into an estimated $83 billion in lost sales for U.S. retailers. And a Zendesk study found that 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction.
Since the stakes are so much higher for a B2B company, B2B marketers prioritize customer relations as part of their main brand identity. B2B companies typically have a longer sales cycle, which results in a level of personalization and trust-building that B2C marketers should strive for. When you look at the structure of B2B sales, there are typically dedicated sales development reps, account managers, and customer success reps that are all involved along the way of the sales journey from prospect to customer. With so many people invested in your needs in a B2B environment, you will always feel the white glove treatment. In stark contrast, within the B2C scenario you’re often just another statistic behind marketing analytics and ROI reports.
I challenge B2C marketers to better understand their customers at an individual level, even if this idea seems out of reach and too expensive to accomplish. Many already know my birthday or my purchasing behavior, but is that what will earn my loyalty? Instead of sending out the generic feedback survey email in your drip marketing campaigns, how about also asking me how the wedding was if I purchased a bridesmaid dress (in addition to how the dress fitted), or how my trip was if I rented a car (in addition to how reliable the car was).
Take All Stakeholders into Consideration
When I think about all of the purchases I’ve made throughout different phases of my life, it has never been made without influence from others, whether indirectly or directly. Purchases have been influenced by family members, significant others, friends, co-workers and society in general. And yet B2C marketers often only revolve their campaigns, content generation and SEO strategy around a primary target audience.
According to a CEB study, there are an average of 5.4 people involved in any given B2B purchase decision. As a result, B2B companies are forced to create buyer personas for multiple stakeholders and include them all in their marketing and sales strategy. Content and messaging are tailored around every persona and marketed accordingly. However, for B2C marketers, they typically have one target in mind for each product or service, or perhaps for their entire brand.
I challenge B2C marketers to think outside the box when it comes to their target audience. Of course being targeted helps you to be more efficient with your marketing spend, but are you losing out on potential business by not targeting other audiences who have influence during the purchase decision? Some brands have already thought outside the box by gearing advertisements towards children even though the parents are the purchasers, so are there any other products or brands that can follow suit?
Just as B2B marketing and sales have to get more creative with acquiring leads through content marketing and embracing the social selling process, B2C marketers can push their boundaries and get in front of their customers and other stakeholders on a more personal level.