There’s something disconcerting about moving from a communications role in a B2C environment, to one focused primarily on B2B relations- especially if you’re new to the industry.
For those who are unaware, the basic differences that separate B2B from B2C communications (apart from the obvious difference that one communicates from business to business and the other business to consumer) include longer and more complex sales cycles, price variations for different buyers and situations, fewer prospective buyers to sell to (who conduct more research than the typical consumer) and the fact that there are more people involved in the decision process.
Yet, interestingly enough, B2B communicators can learn a lot from their B2C counterparts. As a young professional, I have recently needed to adapt from an agency B2C environment to an in-house B2B communications role, and found that there are 5 main transferable skills learnt in managing and creating B2C campaigns that you can take with you to exceed in a B2B role so you can keep it cool – Milhouse style.
1) USE EMOTION AND FOCUS ON THE WHY
The traditional process of B2B communications focused on a rational, emotionless approach of what-how-why. That is, placing what the product offers at the forefront, how it works second, and finally demonstrating why the business would want to buy the product.
However, B2B communications rely on building personal relationships to continue a successful business relationship so emotions like confidence, trust and compassion are essential to cultivate a strong and long-lasting relationship.
Throw away the boring what-how-why process that B2B has for too long pigeonholed themselves in and focus simply on the why for a change – use emotional branding.
2) IMPROVE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION
It has always been a popular strategic tool for B2C marketers to research and improve their ‘Value Proposition’ – that is, the reason why your consumer should buy from you over your competition – and it is time for B2B marketers to do the same.
The recent recession has completely changed the way that consumers see “good value” and it has impacted heavily upon purchasing behaviour, with consumer’s caring more about what you can do for them and how they can achieve the greatest value for money.
Research your target customer, see what they consider “good value” then research your competitors and see what they offer. Then, re-evaluate and edit your position based on the findings and consequently improve your Value Proposition.
3) INVEST IN CONSUMER INSIGHT AND GATHER FEEDBACK
B2B communicators often focus so much on selling their product to a business and ensuring their product runs smoothly, that they often forget about the importance of investing in consumer insight. When working in B2B communications you need to ensure that personal connections are made and strong relationships are built, which means you need to get to know your consumer inside and out.
Investing money into the continuous research of your consumer (past, present and future) will assist in providing a more in depth look at your target audience, as well as an inside look at what they think of your products/service.
Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with past and present clients is the key to gaining quality feedback that is credible, trustworthy and objective.
4) BE INNOVATIVE AND THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
With B2B communications, it is common to stick to a straightforward and rational marketing approach, as technical product specifications need to be delivered as clearly and simply as possible. However, there are many types of B2B content that can be “spiced up” with a touch of creativity.
It is important in B2B communications, not to forget your brand personality, but to enhance it and show it off. By telling creative stories about your brand, you can inspire consumers to connect emotionally and develop a stronger relationship with your business and product/service.
B2B communicators can tell these creative stories through publishing content on the right platforms for their business, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or through a company blog. By introducing innovative ideas and creativity into content marketing strategies, B2B marketers can establish their brand as a thought leader in their industry, opening the door to endless opportunities on a global scale.
5) SEGMENT YOUR AUDIENCE
B2B marketers often consider entire businesses as their customers and demographics are usually overlooked, as they focus more on the products they sell than the consumers who purchase them.
Yet it is clear that not all customers are alike, and this is where B2B marketers can learn from B2C marketers, by recognizing the differences and relying on segmentation methods for different messaging, discounts and tones of voice in communications.
If B2B marketers segmented their audience similar to how a B2C marketer would, by creating a unique and creative segmentation strategy unlike their competitors, this can result in a successful strategy and consequently, a sustainable competitive advantage.
With the increasing distrust of advertisements, and the pressure on businesses to provide “good value” to consumers after the recession, B2B and B2C marketers are both using a similar skill set, focusing more on the feelings and motives of the people behind the purchase decisions, to create compelling and credible campaigns that drive sales.
These are not the only skills that can be transferred from B2C – B2B marketers, Do you have any other skills to add? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know more!
How to convince your boss that content marketing is key. - Rachel Wastell | Freelance Journalist
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