It’s no secret that B2B and B2C marketing is different, especially when it comes to social media. In fact, when I was transitioning from B2C to B2B, I searched incessantly for resources to help me prepare. Surprising, what I found was very little. I needed resources to tell me what to expect when making the jump, and — more importantly — whether my B2C experience was enough to ready me for the big bad world of B2B marketing.
I found that despite the obvious differences, there were several best practices of B2C messaging that are equally relevant to B2B marketers:
- People relate and respond to human beings
- If you have fun, your audience will
- People aren’t vending machines
1) People Relate and Respond to Human Beings
A popular term I hear a lot from B2B companies is, “We’re sales-driven.” While growth and profit are important parts of a healthy business, there comes a point when you need to take a more holistic approach to your customers than numbers in a funnel.
People recognize when they’re a means to an end, and this affects the way they interact with your brand and what they tell others about you. If you invest in your customers, those relationships turn into valuable things like product evangelism. You can develop brand loyalty, but it requires effort, personality, and a touch of transparency.
One company that absolutely hits this out of the park is one of our portfolio companies, Instructure. Their Executive Team summary takes full advantage of the branding opportunity and the payoff is incredible. The page is well designed — the copy is catchy and informed by personality — but it’s also informative, just like Instructure.
B2B companies often miss out on key marketing opportunities like this by failing to think human.
2) If You Have Fun, They Will
While there are boundaries of disclosure that B2B companies must navigate, that doesn’t mean you can afford to squelch the fun factor. Often what I see is this: a B2B company assumes that since they are truly solving a problem, they don’t need to win customers over. Not true. If a customer doesn’t like you — or worse doesn’t feel cared for by you — they’ll find a different solution to their problem.
Admittedly, my work at OpenView doesn’t have the same goals or demands of a B2B marketer who is selling a product. However, what we learned through our B2B Oscars is still a great example of the intrinsic value of engaging your customers. The B2B Oscars was a contest in which we invited people to elect and nominate the best viral videos in the B2B space. There was no side agenda, no credit-card slip under the canapés, just a desire to connect more deeply with our customers — the result was incredible!
We just completed a similar customer engagement campaign right now, our March Madness Tournament highlighting the best customer success companies in tech. The value of these experiences is almost immeasurable for brand development when we’re engaging with our customers just because we like hanging out with them.
3) People Aren’t Vending Machines
Just like being a software company doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility to win over your customers, being a B2B company doesn’t mean every time you touch a customer you get an “ask.” When a B2B company goes the extra mile, like sending a free stuffed monkey to a customer’s daughter for example, they disrupt the scene.
MailChimp is a natural leader in the B2B space. From their messaging to their free T-shirt campaigns, MailChimp customers love them and with good reason. Year after year, they continue to delight customers by sending them something valuable for free. The T-shirt isn’t the cheap cardboard wear when you are doing the laundry kind, it’s the soft track jersey, American Apparel kind — it’s like the one you got at that concert for Zooey Deschanel. Giving customers a T-shirt made their customers realize that to Mailchimp, they’re valuable too. Sweet, simple, powerful.
B2B marketing has a lot to consider, but the lines of do’s and don’ts can be appropriately stretched with some pretty amazing results.
Do you have experience in this transition? How has B2C messaging informed your content strategy?