Imagine, if you will, Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing as siblings. B2B might be the stereotypical older child — calm, thoughtful, and studious. And B2C marketing would be the younger one — brash, bold, commanding attention.
What would happen if the younger sibling got the older one to lighten up a bit?
B2B writing doesn’t have to be dense or boring. By taking a few cues from B2C copy, B2B writers can breathe some life into their work and create pieces their audience looks forward to reading.
Here’s how to do it:
- Shift the focus from customer acquisition to retention.
B2B marketers tend to focus their investments on new business acquisition through lead generation and sales training. In contrast, B2C marketers focus more on customer retention, with acquisition being secondary.
B2C marketers are definitely onto something here, because recent studies show that retention can be a bigger growth driver than acquisition. A small 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 75% increase in net customer value. That’s a whopping 1,400% return on the investment.
B2B writers who want to help their clients achieve statistics like these would do well to shift some of their focus from acquisition to retention. This may mean segmenting your audience more than you do now. It might mean introducing a few new email sequences and sales funnels. It will probably involve consulting to get these efforts off the ground.
In other words: You’ll be busy, and it will be a win-win for both you and your client.
- Target your marketing efforts to personas.
B2C marketers create personas or avatars of their target audience, assembling a mental picture from demographics, psychographics, and other social data.
You can do the same thing for B2B, though it will be a little more complex. On average, seven people take part in a B2B purchasing decision. Because so many are involved, and because B2B selling is account-based rather than individual-based, you’ll want to think in terms of a persona for the company as a whole.
So research the company itself, as well as its industry, to create your persona. And don’t be shy about asking your client for some information — they’ll be happy you’re doing your homework.
- Engage with your market.
B2C marketers have this one down. Think about Red Bull, for example: is it a beverage company that provides a lot of media and content? Or is it a media company that also produces a beverage?
B2B marketers often limit their interactions with their clients to websites and traditional sales collateral. But by engaging with them, you have so many more opportunities to interact and stay on their radar.
And what’s really great about engaging with your audience is that there are so many ways to do it. You can survey customers. Use the feedback you receive. Interact with your audience on social media. Feature them on your website. And so on. Pick a favorite (you’ll want to discuss it with your client first, of course) and then go from there.
- Show some personality.
Apple is sexy. Starbucks is hip. Some consumer brands ooze personality, but it’s hard to say the same thing about B2B brands.
There’s no reason for it to be difficult, though. Writers are uniquely situated to be able to convey personality by developing their clients’ voices. By doing so, they create a brand that their audience looks forward to hearing from.
Note that “developing” isn’t the same thing as “creating.” Of course, if your client wants you to create a new voice, then you should do that. But the brand’s voice likely already exists, and you just need to bring it out. You can do that by asking a few probing questions.
Start with these:
- Why was the company founded and what is its purpose?
- What sort of tone does the company take in its interactions with its customers?
- Who are those customers, and how does your client show it can relate to them?
The responses to these questions will help you figure out your angle. Pay extra attention to the client’s specific word choices, as those will be your strongest guide.
- Appeal to the reader’s emotions.
Remember — though companies are entities, they are comprised of individual people.
As you probably know, people often buy based on emotion in the B2C context.
But the same is also true even in the B2B context. 71% of buyers who see personal value in a B2B service or product will end up purchasing.
Create that personal value by telling a story that will resonate with the audience. They’ll feel more connected to your client and will become high-quality customers.
- Optimize your content for mobile.
B2B buyers consume content in the same way they do as consumers. That includes using smartphones and tablets. 59% of buyers, influencers, and decision makers use their devices to gather information on B2B products and services. Surprisingly, an even larger number — 65% — feel comfortable making a B2B purchase from a mobile device.
So how should you adapt your content for mobile? By writing shorter pieces. 70% of B2B buyers prefer to read case studies, white papers, and e-books that are five pages or less.
- Educate your audience about your product or service.
Be thorough. Think about how much information Amazon gives consumers on its website. Shoppers get details including product specs, customer reviews, photos and videos, lists of features, and prices.
You would do well to include as much of this as possible on your clients’ websites. Yes, that includes prices.
Does this go against the longtime tradition of B2B marketers keeping their cards close to the vest? Yes.
But it’s a great idea because it gives your client control over the information that’s out there about them.
It also helps prospects and customers pre-qualify themselves. By the time they contact your client, they’ll be primed for the sale.
And, the more information buyers have up front, the more likely they’ll be happy with their purchasing decision. The bottom line for your client: greater sales efficiency and fewer returns.
Over time, you’ll probably be seeing these tips in action more and more frequently in B2B marketing. So why not start now? Add a little B2C magic to lighten up your B2B copy — your clients will love the results.