As B2B marketers, we have the difficult job of trying to create memorable brands with sometimes less-than-memorable products.
Additionally, we must balance this goal with the constant need to fuel sales reps with high-quality leads. These competing priorities can be hard to manage for any marketing executive.
However, by appropriating some B2C marketing tactics, we can more efficiently accomplish these two goals.
Below are five tactical ideas that all B2B marketers should steal from the B2C marketing playbook. These tactics will help you build your brand, engage your prospects, shorten sales cycles, and deliver higher quality leads to your sales team.
B2C marketers are excellent at providing consumers with every bit of product information they could want or need. Think about the way Amazon.com markets their products online: They provide consumers with granular product information, pictures, customer reviews, and ratings.
This is something that B2B marketers could do better. We should be constantly increasing the amount of product information that we have on our websites. This will allow consumers to deeply self-educate before engaging with sales. The result will be more qualified and better educated prospects that your marketing team delivers to sales.
So, why aren't we already doing this in the B2B space? The temptation as a B2B company is to intentionally leave some product information off the website, off the landing pages, and off the marketing brochures. The thinking being that a prospect will have to speak to a sales rep to get a full understanding of the offering.
While this is true, it also annoys and frustrates the researcher. The prospect may not be a good fit for the company, either because of budget or functionality. However they won’t know that because they don’t have all the appropriate information until speaking to the sales person. So by limiting the information you risk wasting time for both your sales rep and your prospect.
2) Publish Your Prices
In almost all B2C environments (websites, landing pages, blogs etc.), marketers are clearly publishing their product or service prices. This tactic should be applied in B2B environments as well. This pricing transparency will allow customers to self-select your product, or conversely opt-out if your prices are not within their current budget constraints.
If you have different versions of your product for small, medium and enterprise companies, publish the feature differences along with the price differences for all prospects to see. This will result in price-qualified leads that you deliver to sales.
Many B2B companies are scared to do this because they think prospects will see the price, not fully understand the value of the solution and move onto a competitor. However, this does not have to be the case. If you are arming prospects with all the product information that they need like: spec sheets, feature lists, pictures, and ratings they can self educate on your products.
Prospects will appreciate the time, effort, and energy that you have put into educating them on both product and price. The end result will be prospects engaging with your company that both understand your solution and have budget to purchase it.
3) Streamline Your Buying Process
B2C consumers are excellent at creating a simplistic and user-friendly buying process. As B2B marketers, we definitely need to learn from this. If possible, do your best to simplify your purchase process by eliminating all extraneous barriers.
An example of how this could work: have sales reps email PayPal or Shopify links to prospects that would like to purchase your product or service. Think about your end customers’ purchase experiences and start simplifying it wherever you can.
The concept of boiling down the purchase process to filling in a Paypal form produces anxiety for most B2B marketers. Especially for companies that are working with large enterprise solutions. However, just because the contract & purchase process has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it can’t change and be much simpler.
If you have extensive terms and conditions, put them in a form with a checkbox at the bottom like iTunes does. Your lawyers and your new customers will thank you.
4) Give Away Some Product
If you can give away some product, you should definitely do it. My favorite B2C example of this is Rita’s, the Italian water ice chain. Rita’s gives away a small water ice every year on the first day of Spring. This is something that I look forward to every year, as I stand in line with other enthusiastic customers for my free small cup of water ice. (Truth be told, I am probably losing money by sitting in line for 30 minutes to get a $1.89 oz. cup of water ice, but I happily do it anyway).
This B2C marketing tactic establishes customer loyalty and builds buzz around the brand. This is something that we should definitely be doing as business-to-business marketers as-well. This is easier for some B2B products than others. For instance, an SAAS company could easily provide a one-month free trial of its product, similar to what Amazon.com offers for their Prime membership and what Netflix gives to first-time subscribers. For a consulting company, you could provide one free consulting session. Rack your brain and think of creative ways that you can give away some product to your prospects to build some buzz around your brand.
As B2B marketers we often shy away from this tactic because it takes time and effort without a guaranteed outcome. If we use the example from above for the consulting company, you’re giving away an hour of your time and expertise without any assurance of the end result. While this is true, giving away some product will lower engagement barriers, establish credibility, and get some initial hooks into your prospect.
5) Connect on a Human Level
B2C marketers are great at creating human connections with prospects. Take Apple, for example. Apple is excellent at making a human connection between its products and its prospects.
A great example of this is their recent iPhone 5 commercial, which shows iPhone customers listening to music in different everyday situations. What I love about this commercial is how it fully captures Apple’s simplistic but incredibly powerful marketing. It connects its product to the very relatable everyday activities of singing the shower, working out to music, or jamming out in the car with your friends. When is the last time you were moved like this by a business-to-business marketing campaign?
Connecting on the human level can be difficult for many B2B marketers as our products are geared at lowering transaction costs, streamlining inefficiencies and increasing employee productivity. However, by focusing on the benefits of your products instead of the functionality that it delivers you can tap into the human element in your marketing.
I am not suggesting that you need to bring your B2B prospects to tears with your marketing. However, I am saying that by making a human connection with your marketing message, you are going to stand out in an environment focused on efficiency and cost cutting.
The Bottom Line
As inbound marketers we are constantly trying to attract prospects, educate them through the stages of sales funnel, and transition them to customers. However, for some of us, the old marketing tactics are still standing in the way. By getting rid of old B2B practices like: limiting the amount of information available, not publishing prices, and using antiquated & difficult purchasing processes we can enhance our prospects experience with our company. So steal these B2C tactics and watch your prospect engagement take off!
Originally published Dec 13, 2013 10:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017