I’ve never been a fan of generic labels for human beings, whether the label is based on race, religion, marital status, income, occupation, sexual preference, political party affiliation, or anything else.
I like acronyms even less. I write a ton of content for the IT sector, where acronyms (like IT) run amok. WAN, SDN, MPLS, VPN, IoT, (fill in the blank)aaS, yada yada yada. There’s even an RIP that has nothing to do with dead people.
In the world of commerce, you have business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) – two painfully generic acronyms that describe types of transactions and marketing. You know the basic differences between the two.
Generally speaking, the audiences for B2B and B2C might have different priorities. They might be looking for different types of information. They might consume content in different ways. They might have to go through a different process before making a purchase.
Fact is, they’re all human beings. Instead of lumping people into two generic buckets and marketing to them based on the bucket or some other label or job title, talk to them like humans.
Even if you’re dealing with large corporations, doing business involves interactions between real people. Final decisions are typically made by one individual. A real person.
However, business owners and marketers tend to make general assumptions about how to market to businesses or consumers based on outdated stereotypes about the buying journey and what drives their purchase decisions.
For example, LinkedIn is for B2B and Facebook is for B2C. B2B is data-driven and B2C is emotion-driven. Case studies are for B2B and videos are for B2C.
I can’t imagine a B2B buyer on LinkedIn enjoys video any less than a B2C buyer on Facebook just because the B2B buyer is watching from a big office and wearing a business suit.
Why? They’re both real people. The key is to make that video relevant and compelling to the right person.
Everyone in your target audience is human and a consumer of some sort. Some people consume business products and services. Some people consume products and services for themselves, their families and their homes.
Regardless of who or what you represent – your family or your business – don’t you make your purchase decisions based on the same general criteria?
Trust. Value. Confidence. Authenticity. Price.
If that’s the case, all marketing should be person-to-person, or human-to-human. And all marketing content should be developed with real people in mind, not broad, superficial titles and labels.
Some people say digital marketing has blurred the line between B2B and B2C. I say people were as human 30, 40 or 50 years ago as they are today. Digital just makes it a little easier to dig a little deeper into your ideal client’s behavior and preferences.
What Person-to-Person Marketing Looks Like. And Feels Like.
Instead of just providing a client with graphs and charts, tell the story behind the data so people understand the value and relevance of that information. Instead of just saying you have the best service and a friendly, knowledgeable staff, tell a story that proves it.
In both examples, speak the language of the people you want to do business with, not the language you assume a B2B or B2C audience wants to hear or is used to hearing. Use analogies, metaphors and realistic scenarios to frame your value proposition in a way real people can relate to and understand.
Not only does this make your message stronger, but it also makes your brand more human.
Remind people of their pain points. Empathize with them. Explain how you can help. Focus on the customer experience, but make sure you do justice to the work done on your end to make that experience possible.
Preview the outcome. Sell measurable results, but also make sure your audience knows how those results will make them feel.
This is Marketing 101 that applies to all human beings, not just B2B or B2C.
Anyone who says emotion doesn’t factor into B2B purchase decisions isn’t paying attention. And anyone who says data and research don’t factor into B2C purchase decisions isn’t paying attention. The key is to strike the right balance and speak to people as humans, not titles and labels.
All marketing is person-to-person, whether that person is a senior executive at an IT company or a busy mom checking Facebook during dance class.
When you understand and market to your ideal client – the person, not the title or label – you win more than the sale. You win the heart and mind. You win trust and loyalty. You build relationships.
And those relationships will build and sustain your business.