Friday Jun 14, 2013

Forget B2B and B2C – Tech Enables B2P (Business to People) Marketing

handshakeUh oh, here comes more silo-busting.  For decades we’ve operated with a mentality of two separate marketing worlds, B2B and B2C. It’s another one of those things that’s ingrained in us, but that’s ripe for upheaval and disruption. Today, guest blogger Angela Wells, Oracle Director Outbound Product Management for Social, explains why B2B and B2C might be consolidating into B2P.

Marketers traditionally think of themselves as targeting either businesses or consumers.  Books and blogs vie to tell us how to succeed in either of these schools of thought. We can turn to experts, resources and companies based on their reputation for executing one or the other, but then we might miss out on the opportunities today’s technology offers us.

In my marketing career, I’ve helped sell everything from 99-cent impulse bags of potato chips in grocery stores to multi-million dollar, multi-year market research programs to global Fortune 100 companies. Yet I’ve never been more excited about the current opportunities to connect with potential customers in new ways, driven by tech.

What’s “B2P Marketing”?

It’s the recognition that businesses aren’t buying what you’re trying to sell. Individual decision makers, people, inside those businesses are buying what you’re trying to sell (or not), making judgment calls on behalf of their companies.

B2C Marketing is aimed at consumers making purchasing decisions primarily around simple products for personal use. B2B Marketing boils down to “getting leads,” and there’s plenty being written these days about B2B content marketing for achieving just that. B2P Marketing “gets” that human decision makers and influencers drive both.

It’s no surprise emotions and perceived relationships with brands influence product & service recommendations. Be aware corporate decision makers and influencers are entrusted with major investment choices, so the perceived relationship will factor greatly in their willingness to recommend you and be your inside advocate.

Why Does “B2P Marketing” Matter More Now?

With the rise of social and engagement, it’s become increasingly obvious we’re all targeting people.  And these people are consuming media like never before, across a range of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Individuals look to connect online with brands that matter to their personal choices (why I’m a fan of Dairy Queen on Facebook), and to inform their professional choices (why Oracle Social has over one million Facebook fans).

Keys to B2P Marketing Success

Continuously Offer Content of Value:
Content is created every day and of every kind people gravitate towards – repeatedly! Yes, as marketers, we’re trying to sell. But those with whom we communicate will find real value if we primarily educate and inform so they can be better at what they do.

Have a Clear Brand Voice:  
The impersonal “one to many” communications on most corporate websites often fall flat. Crafting content as if you were writing personally to a professional colleague might help your messages sound more genuine.

Engage in Ongoing Customer Dialogue:  
Social offers a two-way dialogue, complete with the ability to see, comment, re-tweet…positively and negatively. For example, Oracle Eloqua created a community for engaged customers on which to share feedback with Oracle Eloqua employees and each other.

Provide Support that Helps End Users:  
“Businesses” don’t call your customer support, people do. They’re reaching out to your account managers or combing through your “help” materials. What kind of human experience are they having? Individuals lose precious time when they have issues with their purchase from you. Keep your support info updated and easy to find. Making customers input search terms that surface mostly irrelevant results from a massive online catalog will rarely get you rave reviews.

So B2B and B2C, welcome the B2P concept, marketing with a keen awareness that real people drive decisions and effectively managing social relationships with them is critical.

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