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4 Strategies B2B Companies Can Use to Implement B2C Marketing Tactics

“The missing element is the human element, and when we add it to the equation, the chemistry changes...the human element. Nothing is more fundamental, nothing more elemental.”

It may sound like a poem, but these words are actually from a 2006 Dow ad. With the “Human Element” campaign as its launch pad, Dow skyrocketed out of the traditional B2B realm, taking its message and brand to consumers in a big way.

Once a strictly B2B chemical company — making products to be used by other businesses — in 2006, it realized it needed to actively appeal to the consumer, and with its campaign, Dow revamped its image.

And it’s time for other B2B companies to take note. 

Shift Your Mindset 

The comfort of the B2B mindset is that you don’t have to worry about the consumer or think about the ultimate impact of buying decisions. After all, you’re just dealing with other businesses.

But this mentality could not be more wrong.

The idea that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram users don’t influence B2B transactions is widely outdated. If anything, today’s customers are more informed and opinionated than ever before. And if B2B companies aren’t proactive in crafting their public image, they’ll find themselves suddenly without it.

Dow knew this early. Through the “Human Element” commercials, it positioned itself as a company that cared about sustainability and people — rather than a heartless chemical company that was destroying the earth. 

Ask the Tough Questions

Revamping your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or overly expensive. The key is to know your consumers — the customers who will ultimately benefit from your product. Once you know who these people are, it’s just a matter of reaching them.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you shift from B2B to B2C marketing strategies:

  • How can my business create a better experience for the consumer?
  • Are my competitors using events, interactions, or unique relationship marketing experiences to better position themselves in the market?
  • How can I display our passion and highlight what we do for our customers?
  • How is my company giving back to the communities we work in and sharing our progress?
  • What was the last tangible display of our dedication to our industry and our customers?

Strategies for the Switch

Once you know where you stand, it’s time to get to work. The real secret is actually doing something. Don’t simply answer these questions and call it a day — go out into your community and be proactive.

Need some ideas? Here are a few to get you thinking:

1. Thank your suppliers publicly. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose statement, but you should let them know you value being a part of their team.
2. Host an event. Invite your key customers and their top customers to a unique anniversary event or a product launch that celebrates what you do and shows your pride in being a valuable contributor.
3. Show goodwill. Give back to schools during a live event and publicly reward educators who teach and train students who may someday become employees.
4. Connect. It’s not enough to simply host an event or mail thank-you cards. You must think of these measures as platforms for people to experience an emotional engagement with your brand.

I’ve done a lot of work with Universal Studios and The Walt Disney Corporation, and they’re both pros at this. They involve their project contractors in everything, inviting them to launches and publicly praising their work.

Mark Zuckerberg is another good example. A couple years ago, he donated a million dollars to a school in New Jersey. At a time when Facebook’s public image was slipping into “evil corporation” territory, his personal gift went a long way toward humanizing the company. 

The fact is, in today’s socially connected world, traditional B2B marketing is dead. No matter the business model, every company’s public image matters. And the most successful B2B companies will recognize this early and act fast to connect with consumers. 

Trust me, if you don’t engage the public, your competitors will.