Businesses that are trying to engage with corporate clients and customers often use very different marketing tactics than those that are trying to get consumers on board. But why is there such a gap between what B2B and B2C marketers do? After all, surely the end result of wanting to get a prospect on board and engage with your brand is exactly the same. Sabrina Horn, founder and chief executive of digital communications agency Horn Group, is one expert who believes B2B marketers should perhaps look at what strategies and methods are being used by their B2C colleagues, so they can apply the same principles to their campaigns. So what advice does she have to offer…?

Be bold
Ms Horn believes consumer brands tend to be far more willing to take risks, with many airing edgy commercials even during highly rated broadcasts and events. By contrast, B2B marketers often “play it safe”, even though ditching the conservative approach could pay off handsomely.

Use humour
Companies can easily be regarded as a bit stiff and dull in the corporate world, which is why Ms Horn thinks they could stand out more effectively if they show a bit of irreverence. “The use of humour is far too rare in B2B,” she commented. “When it happens, which is seldom, it really sets a company apart and gives it a personality. Funny, positive messaging is a great way to shed a rigid persona.”

Try to get an emotional response
B2C marketers regularly try to elicit an emotional reaction in their target audience – and Ms Horn thinks their B2B colleagues should do the same. “Businesses are made up of people with feelings, so why not tap into these like consumer marketers do?” she advised. “Emotional branding is the best way to capture the hearts and minds of the millennial generation, which doesn’t respond to traditional marketing tools. Consumers need to feel aligned with brands in some way or the brand isn’t authentic.”

Relate brand to current events and popular culture
One expects consumer-facing brands to link their marketing campaigns to events that are going on or relate them to pop culture in some way. But Ms Horn sees no reason why B2B brands can’t do the same and blog or tweet about something, such as a major sporting occasion, and “tie it back to their brand or product”.

Don’t spend too much money
Putting millions of pounds into a marketing drive doesn’t automatically guarantee success. In fact, less can sometimes be more, as success often depends on how a firm uses the resources it has available.

As a result, Ms Horn believes approaches such as developing a clever YouTube video campaign could be more effective than paying fortunes for costly TV advertising slots. After all, a YouTube clip has the potential to go viral – in other words, customers will give you lots of free promotion by sharing and talking about your content.
Ms Horn added that while tried and tested marketing approaches will always have a place in the B2B world, playing it safe won’t always work for firms that want to compete effectively against their rivals. Of course, some of the tactics we’ve listed won’t be appropriate for every brand, but as Ms Horn says, those who decide to take the plunge and be a bit more daring could “reap some major rewards”.

What B-to-B Marketers Can Learn from Super Bowl Advertisers, Advertising Age

Posted by Robin McCrink