Disparate Disciplines? B2B and B2C in Tech Marketing
We’ve all been there. Trying to bargain with two people with contrasting priorities. You choose your words carefully. Phrase things a little differently. You reassure them, basically, but on their own terms. It would be fair to say that this methodology applies to more than just appeasing your bosses and luring friends to social gatherings.
And with the level of personalization required in today’s marketing landscape, it is perhaps inevitable that there will be bespoke approaches when targeting businesses and consumers. I’m going to explore some of these differences below, and explain how you can communicate with your audience more effectively.
One of the most important distinctions that you should consider is the tone employed in your content. It’s widely accepted that B2C tech PR and marketing should appeal on more of an emotional level. This isn’t to say that consumers regard your content with a bag of popcorn and a handkerchief, or that businesses are run by cold-blooded cyborgs.
But the point is the environment is different. Whereas a company is run by individuals, each individual is a representative of the company itself. This means that decisions are held under greater scrutiny, and therefore value must be proven in any purchase or partnership. They’re less likely to succumb to whimsical urges, as it’s not just themselves that will be involved in the decision or the commitment.
The tone should therefore be direct, informative and not at all ‘salesy’ as they’re unlikely to appreciate it. And yet it’s essential that you remain compelling. One technique that appears to negotiate this delicate tightrope effectively is poking fun at office/tech culture, while placing the product or service within that context. While a few years old, the video below is a great example of how this can be achieved.
What B2B prospects will be interested in is hard data, which will go some way towards proving a positive ROI in the future. Methods of conveying this may include success stories (with similar businesses), a favourable comparison with the client’s current system, or a proposal which alleviates one of their primary pain points. To put it simply, you must show that your service is something that they NEED, rather than something that they want.
You must consider which media outlets are more relevant to a business/a consumer. For instance, returning to the example of a client success story, this may have more of an impact in a professional context, as it can demonstrate the value the product can have on a business.
With a consumer, perhaps it would make sense to opt for the wider-ranging scope of social media. This should prioritise engagement, as this is a stronger barometer of a campaign’s success than simply assessing how many followers it may have reached.
3. Focus and Scope
When it comes to B2C marketing, it’s typical to adopt a more blanket approach; a numbers game. This is more transactional and focused on building brand awareness, while B2B tech PR is more interpersonal and based on cultivating long term relationships. And the sales funnel is far longer for the latter. The main reason for this is significantly higher cost and lengthier commitment for businesses, compared to the more fleeting nature of a consumer purchase.
Given the prevalent example of software, the company would likely need to incorporate training for all staff. This is in addition to potential licensing fees and a disassociation with the previous service provider. It’s a significant and expensive commitment, that’s likely to require a more personal touch. This scenario illustrates the importance of face-to-face meetings to build trust and familiarity.. Also attending/hosting live events, demos and webinars are a great way to make a positive first impression to build upon.
4. Level of Detail/Expertise
Whether you’re pitching to an unassuming member of the public or a high-flying tech Jedi, you should know your product inside out. The difference comes when you’re trying to convey how suitable you are to the prospect themselves. As mentioned, the approach for B2B marketing is far more tailored. To stand out amongst the white noise you must provide value. And to do this you must have an understanding of what the company does and the difficulties it faces, which *hey presto* you’re on hand to rectify.
With B2C, it’s important to get to the point. It’s about grabbing attention; the more specific details can come further down the funnel. Content can therefore be more entertainment focused. And hold the jargon! You may well have swallowed the tech-thesaurus, but nobody is impressed. They may even feel alienated. For example, 83% of consumers prefer an informal tone in video content.
5. Customer Retention
It’s always vital to consider how you approach customer satisfaction and indeed retention once a sale has been made. There is almost a pre-ordained loyalty in place with a business. You have had to prove your worth in advance, and a commitment has already been made. But how does this affect retention marketing when compared to the more ephemeral consumer?
To encourage loyalty with businesses, you have to build on the relationships you developed in the sales process. Whoever your contact may be, you need to make them aware that you’re fully committed to them as a client. This includes being willing to listen to their experiences with the product/service in order to ensure satisfaction.
While regularly checking in with consumer tech users is also important, it’s far more likely to be automated, at least initially (a customer satisfaction email, for example). Due to the lesser commitment, there’s greater churn with consumers. Loyalty and rewards schemes are one way to resolve this issue, making customers feel valued while perhaps even eliciting some affection towards your brand. This is invaluable for your business, especially when you consider how much more cost-effective it is to sell to an existing customer.
6. Be Adaptable
It’s important to acknowledge that every client and customer is different and as such we shouldn’t apply these guidelines in a simplistic, binary manner. Many argue that as more time passes, B2B and B2C customer (and hence marketing) practices are converging.
They value similar things, such as being dealt with swiftly, with a personalized touch and ongoing support after the fact. A great deal of principles can clearly be applied on a universal basis. And yet it may be worth considering some subtle tweaks, some bespoke touches, which could make a difference.
Take this article, which compares the variety in Flywheel’s approach when dealing with agencies and freelancers. Clearly they’re both human beings, but when priorities vary, so do USPs.
So as you can see, modifying your voice to suit your client can be an extremely effective marketing technique. This may divide your approach into specifically B2B and B2C camps, or you may prefer assessing each case as it comes. Apply your innate understanding of tone management, while selecting the most appropriate channel for your target demographic. Keep the terminology relevant, be selective with your jargon and for Goodness sake don’t bore anybody. Above all else, BE ADAPTABLE. Good luck.