The line between B-to-B and B-to-C has faded dramatically. The two resemble each other today perhaps more than ever before. Some suggest a new era of ‘business-to-human’ has replaced the old dichotomy altogether.
Some differences remain and aren’t going anywhere. For example, lead generation is still a primary goal of most B-to-B marketing efforts. Procurement departments still make purchasing decisions for large organizations. But those departments are made up of individuals with expectations shaped by highly personalized, on-demand experiences. The principles behind effective B-to-B and B-to-C communications are becoming interchangeable.
So, how can you make your B-to-B communications more successful? Start with these tips to help shape your strategy.
Be thoughtful. Connecting with any audience begins with listening. Content rich with answers cannot resonate with an audience asking unrelated questions. Opportunities to engage with potential customers are everywhere; from basic social listening to comprehensive research programs. These conversations provide insight into where your content should focus to establish an emotional connection.
Never before have we been better equipped to sharpen the stories we tell. Advanced metrics can tell us who’s responding to our communications, in more ways than I can list here. These tools can help put a finer point on identifying what your customers need, but it’s not a replacement for thoughtful, empathy-driven creativity.
Be original. Your effectiveness depends on how you make your customers feel. Emotion is just as much a decision factor in B-to-B marketing as B-to-C. In that context, your competition is not a product or service, it’s the experience you provide your customers. This means you can’t just replicate what others are doing: To make meaningful progress, you must find what makes you unique in your market.
Be strategic. Flawlessly executed tactics are wasted efforts if not in support of an appropriate goal. The start of any successful campaign is built on clear and measurable objectives. Once established, strategies and tactics come secondary to support these goals.
Be direct. Your target audience is bombarded with countless irrelevant messages every day.Reach them purposefully with a focused proposition and don’t waste any time getting to what is useful to them. Your message will be more powerful when leading with the benefits – and supporting the claim with product or service features.
Customers today expect personalization. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your customer’s business and their goals alongside a passionate dedication to their growth within the context of your offering. You may not be able to quiet the chaos, but you can control how you resonate with a concise and authentic message.
Ultimately, content that connects is about relationships, and relationships are only as strong as your ability to listen and consistently engage in authentic ways. Are there one-size-fits-all shortcuts? Sure. But they are not worth settling for. After all, effective storytelling is a perpetual effort, not an accomplishment.