Are B2B and B2C strategies like apples and oranges? Or….
Are they both different kinds of apples?
And if so, how can marketers and business leaders use pieces from each to create a tasty dish?
Heck if I know! That’s why I asked Sushmita Mohapatra, Regional Content Marketing Lead (Consumer Marketing) at PropertyGuru to get her thoughts on B2C and B2B digital marketing strategies in Asia.
1. JOE: Which is the main difference between B2C and B2B digital marketing strategies, if any?
SUSHMITA: At the heart of it, B2B and B2C marketing strategies, both should have the same principles. Businesses are run by people and aren’t just brick and mortar entities. So when it comes to creating a voice for the brand, using channels effectively or saying the right stories, the basics remain interestingly similar.
Having said that, and worked with both B2B and B2C businesses, from a marketer’s perspective, here is where I see differences exist:
B2C marketing has a very strong storytelling approach across sectors and brands. I see B2B teams exploring this quite a bit (for both internal and external audiences). However, I feel that there is quite an opportunity to expand this and shift away from the thought-process of creating case studies and testimonials, to sharing strong, impactful stories. In fact, in my experience, some of the most powerful stories around innovation and creating change can come from B2B players.
I have worked with an insurtech player who was using AI to create personalised insurance packages for each employee in conglomerates. It had so many strong stories around tech enabling the creation of the right health and life insurance products. Another of my clients, was a digital banking platform that had transformed the banking experience with its mobile product for consumers and cut resource costs by 70% for one of the Southeast Asian banks.
B2C is very open to experimenting with channels (new, old, untested). B2B businesses are less open to exploring new (untested) avenues.
When it comes to measuring and using analytics, there is again a lot of difference here. Just by nature of the spends, and the critical role that marketing plays in customer acquisition for B2C, there is a huge focus on attribution. Today, marketing and data science teams are working closely, and that will be the next strategic shift in the way we market. For B2B marketing, being metric driven, measuring and using analytics effectively for lead generation can allow for more experimentation.
On the other hand, I feel B2B businesses meet their consumers/customers more frequently and effectively leverage events and meetings to understand consumer pain points. Sometimes, just on account of scale, B2C marketers don’t end up hosting a lot of consumer events. This results in limited consumer interaction (unless you consciously look out for it). Sometimes, when you haven’t spoken to a consumer in the longest time (be it a marketer, or leadership), you can completely lose touch of what you are solving for.
2. JOE: What are some tips for getting creative with a B2C marketing strategy?
SUSHMITA: I always use this one tip – if I was a customer, how would I react to what I am being shown. I don’t see marketers ask that question often enough. Understanding the customer is key to a good B2C marketing strategy. Who is he/she? I believe that just creating a right customer persona could be a solid workshop of 4-5 hours. So back to more tips .
Always stay on top of trends in the sector and market. It helps to know what is buzzing and riding on it. I have always consumed a lot of news. This goes back to my days as a business journalist. I get up and read the papers. I don’t know how else to begin a day. Signing up on Google trends for your sector highlights is now an easy way to know when things happen.
Keep brand values close to you. Most brand values that companies have can actually be the right tests to check the validity of your creative campaign. Brands I have worked with have things like trust, honesty, value as their brand values. So asking if your campaign is honest to your consumer or will my consumer trust me if I show her these are good questions to ask.
Being creative for most teams is directly proportional to having fun with a campaign. One of my best integrated campaigns was centred around music. As a travel brand, we sponsored a music fest being held in one of our most popular destinations. We brought in multiple elements – from influencers, offline buys, app marketing, etc. Even today, I usually end ideation meetings with ‘let’s have some fun with this.’ I guess when you break the guard rails, and let your mind run a tad wild, you can do some good stuff.
Most B2C businesses are very metric focused, and I as a marketer love it. But instead of it inhibiting me, I love to go rather deep to see what the metrics show. Some of our consumer habits are intriguing and you would know that only when you did a metric deep-drive. Again, a great way to get creative ideas.
3. JOE: As consumers are getting flooded with so much information, how can B2C brands stand out?
SUSHMITA: I have a very simple answer for this.
Find your consumer’s problem and solve it. Honestly and earnestly every single day.
If you did that with conviction, changing your product and solution to just solve one problem at a time, you will stand out.
Everything else is glamor.
4. JOE: Is influencer/KOL marketing a dying strategy?
SUSHMITA: I have met a lot of people in the industry who say that now. I am quite divided on that. I really believe in the micro-influencer strategy. In the past I have worked with travel micro-influencers across different cities in Korea and India, holding meet-ups for these bloggers, writers and photographers to meet up. I feel that it has a lot of power. TikTok is already doing a fab job of giving them a platform.
B2B businesses haven’t scratched the surface of having a good influencer strategy. There is so much potential there!
5. JOE: How do you identify and target the right customer segments?
SUSHMITA: See the customer persona point I made above. I go insane there. I love digging and digging a little more to know about my consumer. I create multiple segments, and then I do Venn diagrams. Then I try matching customer consumption patterns to this.
For example, a single woman traveller could be a 25-35 years old professional with mid-high income. For me, that could be two targeting segments, because the travel behaviour for both segments are different. Similarly for working on spending patterns, empty nesters with high-income, compared to empty-nesters dependent on retirement funds, or their children account for very different behaviours.
I love the exercise. Even if you’ve been in business for 10 years, you should start the year by asking yourself and your team, who is your customer? It’s easy to lose sight of this rather innocuous little question.
6. JOE: Should a brand adapt their style of communication to their specific target audience? If so, now?
SUSHMITA: Knowing what your brand stands for is important when you reach out to your audience. Are you funny, serious, political or risk-averse? You can’t be funny on Facebook and dead serious on LinkedIn. It doesn’t work well. It is slightly schizophrenic.