4 Tips to Consumerize Your B2B Marketing

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11 January 2013

The lines between the business and consumer worlds are blurring. In the technology world, this manifests itself in what’s...

The lines between the business and consumer worlds are blurring. In the technology world, this manifests itself in what’s being called the “consumerization of IT” where popular consumer technologies (e.g. smartphones and apps) are bleeding into the enterprise. But this trend extends beyond IT and touches many facets of the business. And B2B marketing is no exception.

Today, B2B companies are borrowing marketing strategies already proven successful in the B2C marketing world. They’re using these strategies to market to the common business user, create transparent pricing and offer a frictionless buying process. Here are four ways that B2B marketers can borrow B2C strategies to consumerize their marketing.

1. Use Marketing to Reduce the Need for Outside Sales
One of the strengths of B2C marketing is that abundant product information is usually available online, pricing is transparent and it’s relatively easy to make a purchase. Of course, B2B purchases are often several orders of magnitude more complex than a B2C purchase, but B2B marketers can provide similarly detailed product specifications, demos and more on the Web to help educate buyers. In addition to providing detailed product information, publishing fixed pricing and providing Web purchasing options can go a long way toward smoothing out the buying process and reducing the need for an outside sales force.

2. Offer a Free Trial of Your Product
While it’s not possible for every B2B company (e.g. insurance companies) to offer a free product trial, companies with a low cost of goods sold (e.g. Cloud software) should consider offering their product on a free trial basis so buyers have an idea of what they can expect when they make their purchasing decision. However, in order to generate leads, it’s important that B2B marketers don’t give everything away and force a purchasing decision at some point. This can either come in the form of a trial expiration date or a only allowing paying members to use a certain product feature.

3. Create Customer Challenges to Encourage Feedback
Customer testimonials are a great marketing tactic but finding the right people to be your advocate can be difficult. To encourage more customers to get involved in marketing, B2B companies can create challenges for their customers that offer a reward upon completion of the challenge. For instance, B2B marketers can gamify their customer feedback by creating a challenge for customers provide a case study for how their product has helped them improve their operations. In exchange for offering up a compelling case study, marketers provide Amazon gift cards, or give away a service at their company.

4. Turn Your Marketing into a Game
In keeping with the gamification trend, B2B marketers can turn their educational marketing into an actual game. While this can be difficult to do in the B2B world, I recently found a great example in the networking company SonicWALL, which created a game designed for IT professionals called The Network Security Challenge. The game asks players to try and decide what to let past the firewall as potential threats come up. As the game progresses, threats come in faster and faster until you inevitably fail. The point is that no one can manually decide what to let past a firewall, so you need an enterprise network security solution like SonicWALL to automate the process. The game ultimately helped SonicWALL to sell tens of thousands of dollars of network security from the leads generated. B2B marketers everywhere should consider how they can teach the need for their product by creating a similarly educational game.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it provides a framework to help B2B marketers start to think about how they can borrow B2C strategies and roll them into their marketing. If you have any other tips to provide readers, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Research for this article was put together by Derek Singleton, analyst at Software Advice. To read the full article, visit The B2B Marketing Mentor at: 4 Ways B2B Companies Can Consumerize Their Marketing.

2 comments
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Anonymous help

Hi Derek, good post -

Hi Derek, good post - Certainly seems to be striking a chord - our most popular blog yesterday.

Great points Derek but I

Great points Derek but I still feel, and have felt this way for some years now, that one of the biggest things we should be taking from the consumer side is creativity. In general the quality of creativity in B2B is embarrassing, yes there have been improvements over the years, and yes there are some great campaigns out there, but in general I often feel I have to apologise to my peers for the world of B2B. It is harder than ever to engage in a very busy marketplace, so the need for engaging creative comms is essential. Every time we've been able to persuade a client to be brave and more adventurous with the creative we've had enormous success. So B2B agencies, keep pushing the creative idea, it will be the difference.

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