Are the lines blurring between B2B and B2C marketing?

Mar 13th '20

An article in this week’s Marketing Week thinks so.


If it’s true, what does it mean for Marketers on both sides of the fence? Can marketing activity be improved by more cross-pollination between traditionally B2C and B2B activity?


What can Marketers in both areas learn from each other – are there opportunities to share best practice?


A converging of B2C and B2B marketing techniques

An article on agrees with Marketing Week that there has been a blurring of methodologies, ‘most notably, as we witness B2B marketers adopting tactics that have been traditionally used in B2C.’


What has driven this? The CEO Club article cites three main things:


  1. Rapidly emerging technology – which is seeing B2B Marketers catching up with their B2C counterparts, ‘using technology to reach customers digitally and create more personalized, one on one connections’.
  2. Increased/improved access to information. Traditionally, they say B2B buyers have relied primarily on salespeople to get the information they need about products and services.


Today, potential customers can get a huge amount of valuable information online, as a result of the growth in firms’ content marketing strategies.


Buyers these days are able to self-educate, and gain a far deeper understanding of their potential purchases before they even speak to a salesperson. The traditional B2B marketing and sales funnel has therefore been significantly disrupted.


  1. Evolving expectations, which see B2B customers, like B2C, increasingly valuing brand authenticity and transparency. These changing expectations also manifest as an expectation of instant access to products and services – increasingly making B2B more akin to B2C in terms of immediacy of news and product information.


The Marketing Week article also cites the growing numbers of B2C Marketers ‘crossing the floor’ to B2B businesses as a driver of the change, as they ‘cherry pick the best attributes from both sides’ to deliver optimal marketing strategies.


The implications of converging B2B and B2C marketing

So, what does this convergence mean? What should Marketers in both B2B and B2C learn and do differently as a result?


  1. Embrace the best of the ‘other side’

Or, as the CEO Club puts it, ‘be bolder’. B2B Marketers need to change the mindset that marketing concepts typically reserved for B2C are too ‘out there’, too radical for B2B customers.


Be brave about adopting new tactics. See what works for B2C – can you replicate it for your business buyers? We’ve identified previously the growth in popularity of podcasts and videos for B2B, for instance.


Similarly, content marketing is something that has shifted from a B2C strategy to one embraced by B2B.


It can be easy to assume that B2B topics don’t lend themselves so easily to content marketing strategies – and there may be some truth in this, but it doesn’t have to stop you. Read this blog on turning boring topics into interesting marketing content for tips.


  1. Don’t sacrifice speed for perfection

B2B marketing is often less agile than B2C. There can be a need for absolute perfection, whereas the CEO Club article notes that ‘Once a product or service is ready to go to market, it should go out—and quickly’.


For regulated firms particularly, the need to balance speed with accuracy and regulatory compliance is, of course, essential. To succeed, you need to be skilled at creating content that’s both creative and compliant.


Look at ways you can speed your processes. Maybe you waste time on unnecessary admin.


Could your agency briefing and review and approvals processes be more efficient?


Introducing an element of automation to your processes can make a big difference here and may be worth exploring.


Conversely, if you work in traditionally nimbler B2C marketing, you need to remain aware of the need for regulatory compliance. The urgency of getting new products or services to market cannot over-rule the need to avoid regulatory breaches.


  1. Become digital

‘Get current’, as the CEO Club says. It believes that ‘B2B leaders must be more willing to invest in building customer relationships within the digital world’, as well as becoming nimbler in their use of social media and other emerging channels.


GDPR has already driven some firms – both B2C and B2B – to increase their use of social media. Adopting new channels will be key to the success of B2B marketing in future. Again, regulatory compliance here is key; the FCA’s rules, as well as those of the ASA/CAP are platform-neutral – meaning you need to follow them regardless of the channel you use.


Best practice marketing, whatever your business

Whichever side of the fence you are on, the convergence of B2B and B2C marketing offers an opportunity to learn and embrace new best practice.


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