Traditionally, B2B marketing hinged around brand building and the relationship between the buyer and seller. Buying decisions tend to take longer than in B2C and are more involved. The Harvard Business Review found that the number on average involved in a B2B purchasing decision had gone up from 5.4 to 6.8. On the other hand, B2C marketing reaches out to the general public, and buying decisions can happen in a snap, such as someone walking into a store and buying a t-shirt right away. Often, a buying decision only involves that one person.
However, customers now exercise more power than ever, and marketers face the task of keeping up with them on the channel they prefer with relevant and useful content that helps with their business problems. Personalization has become more important than ever to stand out from the competition and capture someone’s attention since you might only have a micro-moment to make an impression before another offer comes along.
As a result, B2B audiences now expect more of a B2C experience in the content they consume. According to Forrester, 60% of B2B customers prefer not to communicate with sales as their primary source of information. In fact, 68% of B2B customers would rather research independently online.
While before, B2B content marketing sought a more professional and business-like tone, while B2C could try to be flashier and evoke more emotion. Now, though, the walls between B2B and B2C have come crumbling down. B2B marketers aren’t likely to score more business with TV and radio advertisements, but they can learn a lot from B2C in how to intrigue and interest customers. Take a look at four tools that can help content creators focusing on B2B deliver an experience more like B2C:
Regardless of whether your audience is B2B or B2C, you still want to put yourself in their shoes, think about their pain points, and think about how your brand’s solutions can help. Ask yourself what is the best way to convey that information to your audience? What would make that information more interesting and easier to digest for them?
Even if it’s a B2B audience, don’t be afraid to evoke emotion. Marketing is all about telling the story of your brand and how it can help. Storytelling in every form depends on the audience emotionally attaching themselves to the story.
At times when it’s appropriate, you can inject some lightheartedness and humor into your B2B marketing. You don’t always have to sound so serious and showing that you are more human in your tone makes you more relatable (as does showing more emotion).
Of course, tone doesn’t only apply to the copy. Your design, coloring, use of white space, and formatting all contribute to what your voice sounds like when communicating with customers. Don't be afraid to show more personality to pique and hold their interest
Don’t think you can only market using email. Though email is great, it’s not the only channel you can use, and B2B customers respond to more than just emails and thought leadership. Mobile marketing might once have been thought of as a B2C realm, but Google found that mobile usage among B2B customers is rising, with 42% of researchers using a mobile device during the purchasing process and 49% of researchers who use a mobile device for product research do so at work.
About 71% of B2B customers also watched a video at some point during the purchasing process, meaning video content is not only for B2C consumers. Don’t discount social as well. Building a social media presence is a huge part of brand building, and you’ll be interacting with B2B customers on your social platforms.
In the end, whether it’s B2B or B2C content marketing, you’re still trying to connect with customers and win them over with your content. Remember to offer value and use messaging that strikes a chord, and make good use of marketing personas so that customer preferences inform your content, whatever form it takes.
Michael McNichols is a Senior Content Manager for Oracle Digital Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in professional writing and has been widely published.