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How to compete with B2C content and shine?

LinkedIn's Ziad Rahhal on B2B marketing

Opinion

How to compete with B2C content and shine?

Ziad Rahhal, LinkedIn’s head of marketing solutions for MENA talks about how B2B campaigns need to get the attention they deserve and what B2B marketers can do differently to shine brighter than their B2C counterparts

B2B marketers always have the difficult job of trying to create memorable brands with sometimes less-than-memorable products. Having a strong online presence is not only a good idea for B2B companies; it is absolutely critical for businesses to stay ahead of their competition and distinguish themselves in the B2B space.

While many of us may assume that B2B and B2C are two different worlds, the changing times suggest that they are now overlapping.

In the past, the B2B sector has largely been overshadowed, especially on global stages like the Cannes and it’s no secret that B2C marketing has more of a reputation for disruptive creativity and emotional impact. We should view this not as a slight, but as an opportunity to prove those outdated perceptions wrong, just as the likes of GE, Norton and Lockheed Martin did last year.

There is quite a lot that B2B marketers can learn from their B2C counterparts:

Reading the fine print

B2C marketers are excellent at providing consumers with every bit of product information they could want or need. They provide customers with every bit of information such as product photos, customer reviews, ratings. This is something that B2B marketers could do better. They should be constantly increasing the amount of product information they have on our websites.

Give the opportunity to self-educate

In almost all B2C environments (websites, landing pages, blogs etc.), marketers are clearly publishing their product or service prices. This tactic should be applied in B2B environments as well. Many B2B companies are scared to do this because they think prospects will see the price, not fully understand the value of the solution and move onto a competitor. However, this does not have to be the case. If you are arming prospects with all the product information that they need like: spec sheets, feature lists, pictures, and ratings they can self-educate on your products.

Make buying simpler

B2C consumers are excellent at creating a simplistic and user-friendly buying process. As B2B marketers, we definitely need to learn from this. If possible, do your best to simplify your purchase process by eliminating all extraneous barriers.

Build customer loyalty

B2B brands can build customer loyalty by engaging in free giveaways. For instance, a SAAS company could easily provide a one-month free trial of its product, similar to what Amazon.com offers for their Prime membership and what Netflix gives to first-time subscribers. This B2C marketing tactic establishes customer loyalty and builds buzz around the brand.

Humanize the brand

B2C marketers are great at creating human connections with prospects. As most B2B products are targeted at lowering transaction costs, streamlining inefficiencies and increasing employee productivity, this seems to be a difficult task. However, it is not impossible if one focuses on the benefits of their products instead of the functionality that it delivers thereby enabling one to tap into the human element in your marketing.

Recently Burger King took the Marketer of the Year award this year’s Cannes. Obviously, its slant is very much B2C (burger-2-customer), but the B2B world can certainly take a page from the brand’s approach.

Counting the world’s largest fast food chain as its No. 1 competitor, Burger King understands more than most the importance of standing out and generating buzz. It has accomplished this with innovative campaigns as well as direct yet playful incursions against the industry-leading goliath, such as the McWhopper proposal and billboard clap back.

The lesson for B2B’ers: don’t be afraid to be different, even funny or cheeky. There can be a place for it, and the likes of Adobe and GE know only too well what success if can have.

The need for increased diversity in our sector has never been more under the microscope, no matter if you are an agency, brand, B2B or B2C. Recently, Airbnb – a company that has faced its own difficulties in this regard – announced that it will use the Lions Festival as a tool for open recruiting of underrepresented demographics.

While measurability is one area where B2B definitely has a hold over our B2C cousins, how this is applied to creativity could throw up some interesting questions and case studies.

Last year we saw a whole host of B2B brands picking up the gongs at Cannes, the question is: will we see this creative trend continue in 2018? There are lots of reasons to expect it will, and not just because of the growing presence of the big four consultants, but because there is more confidence and innovation happening in B2B marketing than ever before.

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