Tomato Juice in Margarita? Using B2C learnings in B2B space

Jason, from Centric, a media agency, had given an interesting perspective on the essentials of B2B branding, and certain misconceptions that marketers have, with regards to the techniques that qualify as B2B.

In his post,The Key Failure of B2B Branding, Jason believes that most of the marketers consider B2B as a microcosm of B2C branding, and attempt to incorporate B2C marketing components in the B2B space, too.

His innuendoes on how consumer marketers, specifically, Procter & Gamble has some of the strongest brands, are worth mentioning…

"..if you throw tens of millions of dollars at promoting a product over a period of decades, of course it’ll have a strong brand. It’s been seen so many times that it’s become part of the culture. So yes, when you look at the strongest brands, they’re going to be consumer brands."

But where most of the marketers go wrong is when they take this understanding of “successful branding” and use the same recipe for their industrial brands as well. Naturally, just because tomato juice tastes nice in Bloody Mary doesn’t mean that you would use it to make Margarita as well, right?

Reasons? According to the post, essentially it’s customers vs. consumers. Be it communication, selling process, demand influencers or cost considerations, industrial customers don’t behave like consumers.

For them, profit motive and returns on their investments are the most important criteria. So, they are bound to think much more rationally, and take objective decisions - though not entirely, but the level of subjectivity is also, to a certain extent, predictable, in case of business markets.

But marketers, in their quest to maximize returns and “market” their brands to their customers, tend to spend more in advertising, use tactical measures similar to the ones applied in consumer markets, and tend to ignore scalability and cost considerations.

Solution? Look at who you are addressing, and what they want to know, NOT what you want to tell – though this is Consumer Behavior 101, but then, again, most of us want to always start from 401, assuming the first 3 chapters are the “usual stuff” !!

Specifically, the media being used by prospects, the communities they engage with (social or virtual), the level of details they look for and the tools they use for day-to-day operations and interactions, needs to be looked into. Based on the customer profiling (and not segmentation per se), marketers should engage with their customers at various platforms (offline as well as online), enhance their own visibility and focus on a two-way communication.

This two-way dialogue includes blogs, websites, podcasts and vodcasts (what I discussed in my previous entry), communities, etc. In the B2B world, it also translates to Consultative selling, educating the customers, money savings, loyalty programs, etc. In effect, one can infer that the level of communication and feedback in B2B is much more, vis-à-vis that done in the B2C space (However, virtual media is changing that notion, too).

This point of conversing with the customer has been reiterated in the article, Conversational Marketing in 2 minutes, where people need to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue. The objective of this exercise is to get feedback from the customers regularly, make customers talk about the brands, and engage them with the overall brand per se. Though the concept focuses on Consumer markets primarily, a page or two can definitely be borrowed while designing the brand communication for industrial brands.

So, what is the point to be made? Essentially, though there are things one could pick from the Consumer world, and apply some of them after selective filtration to the industrial markets, one cannot do a direct “cut-paste” job from the essentials of B2C marketing. B2B markets have their own behavioral patterns, something which should be looked into, first and then, modified based on the learnings from the other world! A nice quote from Jason to summarize the point “treat your audience as a social network, not like a broadcast audience

So, though a Bloody Mary tastes good, may as well look into the taste of Margarita first; if you want to get a better taste, may as well put some more lime juice in your Margarita, and not tomato juice! Or better still, an additional shot of tequila would give you a better kick, too. Or should I say, an RoI? ;-)

Centric is a new gen media agency, specializing in some of the emerging and most promising media mix – be it Virtual media in terms of Second Life, online event management, etc. or Interactive Advertising, or Integrated campaign development. It deservingly calls itself the “Agency of change” and rightly, it IS into the elements that would position it as an agency of change.

[Image Source: Mama Drama ]
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