Whatever kind of business you are, you need to make sure your customers find you, love you and are loyal to you. That’s where marketing comes in.

Whilst it’s no secret that B2C companies typically outperform their B2B counterparts when it comes to marketing campaigns, if you’re a B2B you can still employ these tactics. After all, B2Cs are marketing to people, and so are B2Bs. People are at the heart of everything we do at Elixirr, whether that’s our clients, our team or our partners, so we know that understanding your people is fundamental to successful B2B marketing.

B2C brands have finetuned their ability to gather, build and sustain emotional connections to consumers. While some B2B brands have caught on to the success of these customer-centric campaigns, most still fall short.

The person, customer or client is at the centre of everything a B2C marketing team share. And they know their people inside out, through intelligent use of customer analytics, buyer personas, and campaign personalisation. B2C brands have finetuned their ability to gather, build and sustain emotional connections to consumers. These connections are invaluable. Not only do they drive consumer purchasing decisions, they’re a key reason for brand loyalty. While some B2B brands have caught on to the success of these customer-centric campaigns, most still fall short.

So, how and why should B2B companies exploit B2C marketing strategies? There are three key ways: customer-centricity, storytelling and personalised engagement. By employing these techniques, marketers can truly grasp the attention of their audience, creating heightened brand awareness, stronger leads, and increased customer and client loyalty.

  1. Forget product-centricity: embrace customer-centricity

Customer-centricity has become a buzzword in recent years. The approach was spearheaded by companies such as Amazon and Alibaba, who placed it at the forefront of their strategic objectives and company values, with excellent financial results.

Many B2Bs still put their energy into enhancing their product marketing, accompanied by a scattergun approach to targeting customers. This just doesn’t work in today’s world.

While increasing numbers of B2Cs are embedding customer-centricity into their operations, most B2Bs have not followed suit, with only 14% of marketers adopting the initiative. Instead, many B2Bs still put their energy into enhancing their product marketing, accompanied by a scattergun approach to targeting customers. This just doesn’t work in today’s world. Customer profiles have become more diverse, with customers themselves more selective. This is a trend that will only be enhanced by the digitisation COVID-19 has encouraged; B2Bs should take advantage of the increasingly sophisticated technologies available to them, from SEO to lookalike audiences, that enable brands to understand and target their customers with laser-focus.

So, what exactly are the differences between product-centricity and customer-centricity? In essence, product-centricity is transaction-oriented, focussed on selling products, whereas customer-centricity revolves around fostering a relationship, and is focussed on serving the individual customer. For a B2B, this is even more of a vital mindset shift.

The bottom line: To succeed in today’s market, you must shift from product-centricity to customer-centricity. Change starts internally, so building a company culture with a solid grasp of customer needs and wishes should be the core focus. The below steps are essential to successful customer-centricity:

  • Build empathy

Understanding a customer’s emotional drives, needs and motivations is integral to building a fiercely customer-centric firm. With a strong grasp of this, a business can react, respond, and deliver more targeted and effective marketing solutions.

  • Hire appropriately

Culture is at the heart of customer-centricity. What underpins culture? People. Hire people who understand your customers, or maybe even are your customers. This helps create a solid workforce who all share the same customer-centric attitude.

  • Create an active dialogue

Creating and sustaining dialogue with new, existing, and prospective customers is essential to building relationships and emotional connections. Equally, this dialogue is useful in gathering customer insights and developing products and/or services.

  • Use data

Artificial intelligence can analyse and deconstruct customer insights at the push of a button, allowing businesses to create more personalised and targeted campaigns. Data is the key to successful marketing and is an asset worth utilising to stay ahead of the competition.

Take a look at Netflix. As the world’s most successful digital streaming service with over 182 million subscribers, they exploit their substantial access to customer data and analytics to understand user viewing habits. This helps them constantly improve their offering, most recently in the form of ‘Netflix Original’ TV content, which is informed by their understanding of consumer likes and dislikes. Data is fundamental to their success, and B2Bs should take note.

  1. Brand storytelling: creating powerful narratives

Brand storytelling is another buzzword on the B2C scene. It’s the creation of gripping, powerful narratives that are consistent with company culture, image, and offering. Storytelling is an art and sculpting a narrative that is seamlessly aligned with a brand’s image requires substantial research, analysis, and creativity.

Why is it important? Put simply, storytelling boosts engagement. Building a relatable narrative helps consumers participate in a brand’s identity, fostering feelings of group identification and emotional connection, serving the end goal of enhanced brand loyalty. If you’re a B2B who aren’t telling a clear story to your audience, you need to change fast as this is why people will continue to work with you. For B2Bs, storytelling can be well-disguised. Good marketers can communicate brand narrative through tone of voice, aesthetic, and website design; narratives can also filter through all of a businesses’ operations, from marketing to client-facing work.

Storytelling is an art. Why is it important? Put simply, storytelling boosts engagement.

A B2C company that exemplifies truly powerful storytelling is Nike. The sport apparel brand’s famous ‘Just do it’ strapline is particularly clever because it applies to all people embracing physical activity, from the average person to a professional athlete. This is weaved in with emotive advertising, telling stories of the achievement of extraordinary things through sheer determination and hard work. Consider for example this video ad – ‘Dream Crazier’ narrated by Serena Williams – that promotes gender equality in sport. This is storytelling and a brand identity so powerful that Nike products are rarely the centrepiece of their campaigns.

  1. A human connection: creating a personal touch

B2C marketers utilise the power of social media platforms to generate personalised connections with individual customers. In the knowledge that engagement creates strong relationships – read: brand loyalty – good marketers encourage customers to share branded content on their own social platforms. This strategy not only provokes conversation between the business and consumer, it also promotes the businesses’ profile to the consumers’ own social network.

With the help of social tools such as tags, hashtags, and location tags, shared branded content self-perpetuates a company’s digital marketing in both reach and engagement, generating a plethora of valuable user data.

B2B brands rarely use social media in this way, to their detriment. After all, the reach of another company is even greater than that of a single consumer user. Adopting a product-centric approach, many B2B companies simply wait for customers to approach them, rather than seeking them out. If B2Bs exploited the engagement tactics of B2Cs, not only would their relationship with their current clients markedly improve, but they could recapture lost clients or tap into new markets altogether.

If B2Bs exploited the engagement tactics of B2Cs, not only would their relationship with their current clients markedly improve, but they could recapture lost clients or tap into new markets altogether.

A perfect example of personalised engagement can be found in Spotify. The music streaming app uses customer analytics to create targeted content in the form of individual playlists for each and every one of their 243 million users. In 2018, Spotify took this to the next level with ‘Spotify Wrapped’, which wore the tagline, ‘because no one else listened exactly like you’. The campaign created personalised listening insights for each user, featuring information such as their ‘most listened to songs’, favourite genres, and listening minutes for each year of their activity on the app. The online engagement, personalised conversations between users, and social media sharing that ‘Spotify Wrapped’ generated led to Spotify’s own ‘Twitter Moment’ in 2019. Now there’s an example to follow.

People buy from people

In 2020 we now work from home more than the office. The lines between business and consumer have become blurred. B2B’s can capitalise on this with great effect. By harnessing customer-centricity, brand storytelling and personal engagement, B2B companies can create powerful connections to their customers. ‘People buy from people’ is the age-old adage, and it’s true. Show your people who you are, there are plenty of tools that can help. 

In an age where AI is so readily available, gathering essential insights into customers and clients is simple and easy. Teamed with the expertise designers and developers now hold, there is no longer an excuse for unimaginative and ineffective B2B marketing campaigns.

Looking for help with your marketing operations? Get in touch, we can help.