B2C MarketingMarketing

There is no such thing as B2B marketing. It’s all B2C – AdNews

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Building brand affinity is vital when it comes to marketing to consumers, but as Giorgia Butler, head of strategy and innovation at Nunn Media Sydney writes, it has a knock on impact when it comes to engaging with business audiences.
Marketing, much like sales, requires human to human connection. Businesses are not human. They can’t think, feel, or connect. They also can’t decide. You can’t sell from business to business, you can only sell from human to human.
Perhaps that’s why in small markets like Australia, a good business to business (B2B) marketing plan may look a lot like another market’s business to consumer (B2C) plan.
In practical terms, this happens because the number of Aussies in any given vertical can be so small that it ends up being more efficient and effective to communicate with them in consumer channels, even when asking them to make a business decision.
This is good news for B2B marketers who understand the importance of brand. ‘Business people’ are consumers too, after all.

Strong B2B brands are often also B2C brands
Many big-name brands benefit from having a presence across both B2B and B2C sectors, and ‘pure’ B2B brands can learn from them.
We’re talking about brands such as Canon, that sell everything from compact cameras and home printers to medical imaging tools, business process optimisation solutions and, of course, office printers and scanners. We’re talking about consumer automotive businesses like Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai, which also make and market forklifts. We’re even talking about Kimberly Clark, a business that’s just as famous for keeping baby’s bottoms soft and dry as they are for kitting out office bathrooms with quality toilet paper and hand towels.
These are businesses that understand the power of the emotional connections formed outside of work that B2B customers unconsciously bring to work with them.

The multi-stakeholder path to purchase
Business purchase decisions are made by irrational humans, but not in isolation.
Using the example of Kimberly Clark. As the principal shopper in my own home, I have free rein to choose the Kleenex toilet paper with the Labrador puppy on it if I want, and I don’t have to explain that decision to anyone. Nobody cares that I like puppies in general, find Labrador puppies particularly squidgy and believe toilet paper should be generous and comfy (and reasonably priced relative to parity products). In fact, the rest of the household probably doesn’t even notice which product I buy, especially since by the time they use it, the packaging is long gone, and the only occasion they would ever have to notice its very existence would be if it ever ran out. (They certainly don’t notice when it needs replacing on the roll).
By contrast, if I were purchasing the same product for an entire office building I’d probably need approval on the decision from the finance department, I might even field complaints from HR should I go too light on the ply, and I could even be hearing from CSR should I venture too far from ‘green’ in my choice of manufacturer. In this instance, working with the shorthand of ‘Kleenex’ as a brand we all know and understand can certainly help protect my backside (pun intended) from critique on a workplace decision, and that’s where the B2C connection is so powerful in a B2B setting.  

Professional decisions are even more emotional thapersonal ones
Inevitably in a business setting, a group of stakeholders will collectively need to sign off on a purchase decision. These stakeholders are often held accountable to their own KPIs in their own divisions.
Yes, they’re all human, but they also have different objectives within the business, different feelings about any brand, and are essentially different, beautifully irrational humans. To add further complexity, they won’t always agree with each other and when they need to reach joint decisions, they will operate as people, not automatons.
As Rory Sutherland points out in The Objectivity Trap, (and I am paraphrasing) people are people, even when they put on a suit (or join a zoom call). We don’t suddenly become 100% rational in our decision making when we’re in a business setting. We might even become less rational.
Sutherland argues that decisions made at work can have far higher stakes than those at home. In a B2B setting, you’re not just asking for a transaction, you’re asking someone to stick their neck out for you and put their professional reputation on the line to endorse your brand. This is why it’s critical that B2B brands drive emotional connections and not just rational benefits.
It takes great courage to bring your peers along with you on any corporate level decision, but it will help enormously if your peers already have some brand affinity you can leverage. This is why B2B and B2C can and should look more alike than different.
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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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