On Thursday 19 September, MOI will hold the final B2BNXT Marketing Leaders’ event of the year. This time around, we’ll be looking at how to bridge the gap between B2B and B2C. In preparation, I sat down for a chat with the Drum’s Fergus Gregory, who’ll be hosting the evening.

Here’s what he had to say:

You’ve been working with B2B marketers for over 15 years now – what’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in that time?

Without a doubt, it’s buyer behaviour. B2B marketers are having to really understand the buyer and how to communicate with them. And whereas the sales team was often more responsible for customer relationships, B2B marketers are increasingly taking on ownership of customers rather than acting solely as a lead-gen engine.

There’s also an increasing number of people involved in the decision-making process. There’s much more choice of brands and services, so it’s harder to make decisions, which can lead to risk-averseness from buyers.

What are some of the biggest differences between B2B and B2C?

A major difference I see is that B2C marketers are looking more to the longer term and working to build loyalty and trust with their customers. B2B, on the other hand, can be much more siloed and tactical. It comes down to where marketers sit in an organisation. CMOs in B2C organisations usually have a much wider purview over an organisation.

B2C marketers are more open to taking risks. If you have an audience of 100 million compared to, say, 500 buyers, perhaps you have more room to be creative.

Should B2B marketers be taking more risks?

In B2B marketing there are a lot of stock photos of business people or photos of products – it’s all very homogenous.

There aren’t many B2B marketers who take risks with their promotions, but look at those who do, and you see it can be a game-changer. It’s only when you go out on a limb by bringing creativity to your campaigns that you stand out.

From a decision-making perspective, I believe, B2B itself is inherently riskier than B2C. In a B2C context, if I make the wrong decision when leasing a new car, I’m stuck with it for maybe three years, but it’s not life-changing. Moving to B2B, if I buy the wrong marketing automation software or any serious investment for that matter, that could be the end of my career. So I would argue that you need to create a stronger emotional connection in B2B, to make buyers feel more confident in taking those risks.

One of the biggest things we can learn from B2C is taking risks with emotion-led marketing.

We talk a lot about what B2B can learn from B2C, but is there anything B2C can learn from B2B?

B2B has leapfrogged B2C when it comes to understanding who we’re talking to. It helps that we’re dealing with a low-volume, high-value audience. Because of that, B2B marketing can be highly personalised.

But there’s still a lot we need to do. I saw recently that only 3% of buyers say that advertising they see is relevant to them. We don’t communicate the all-important “What’s in it for me?” enough to buyers. What does the brand narrative mean for the individual?

You’ll be facilitating a panel discussion at B2BNXT – what can our audience expect?

There’s a lot of talk about the need for B2B to be shaken up, but there are already many stories of marketers creating stand-out campaigns. I hope to hear about the positive side of things.

I also want to hear about the marketer’s changing role. Will marketers take full ownership of the customer journey, or are we destined to remain siloed?

And finally, what does the marketer of the future look like? What skills will they need? I think we’ve got a handle on technology, but we’ve still not got the ‘people’ aspect right.

Well, B2BNXT is certainly set to be an evening full of illuminating and entertaining marketing chat. We’ll hear from: Richard Robinson, chair of the DMA’s B2B Council, who will explore what B2B can learn from B2C; Helen Brougham, O2, who will share what it’s like to work as a B2B marketer in a large B2C organisation; and Edyta Malesza-Malatrat, SAP, and Chris Patton, Fujitsu, who will discuss how to put your customer first.

Find out more at B2BNXT – Bridging The Gap Between B2B And B2C on Thursday 19th September at the Covent Garden Hotel.

I hope to see you there!

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