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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm

4 Tips to Consumerize Your B2B Marketing

By Mariel Bacci
January 16th, 2013

4 Tips to Consumerize Your B2B Marketing

Everyone can see the lines between the business and consumer worlds blurring. In the technology world, this manifests itself in what’s being called the “consumerization of IT” where popular consumer technologies (e.g. smartphones and apps) are bleeding into the enterprise. This trend extends beyond IT and touches many facets of the business and your B2B marketing strategy is no exception.

Today, Derek Singleton will show you some ways
your B2C marketing strategies can be used to make you more successful in the  B2B marketing world. You can use these strategies to market to the common business user, create transparent pricing and offer a frictionless buying process. Here are four ways that your B2B marketing plan can borrow best practice B2C strategies to consumerize your marketing:

1. Use Marketing to Reduce the Need for Outside Sales

One of the strengths of B2C marketing is that abundant product information is usually available online, pricing is transparent and it’s relatively easy to make a purchase. Of course, B2B purchases are often several orders of magnitude more complex than a B2C purchase, but B2B marketers can provide similarly detailed product specifications, demos and more on the Web to help educate buyers. In addition to providing detailed product information, publishing fixed pricing and providing Web purchasing options can go a long way toward smoothing out the buying process and reducing the need for an outside sales force.

2. Optimize your Lead Generation Form

One of the worst things you can do to your B2B conversion rate is aggravate  guests who are ready to to make the leap into using your service.  While B2C sites should optimize their sites with a one page checkout B2B sites should focus on trying to clean up their lead generation form so that it asks for as little information as possible.  As the old saying goes “Get them to convert and worry about the details later.”

3. Offer a Free Trial of Your Product
While it’s not possible for every B2B company (e.g. insurance companies) to offer a free product trial, companies with a low cost of goods sold (e.g. Cloud software) should consider offering their product on a free trial basis so buyers have an idea of what they can expect when they make their purchasing decision. However, in order to generate leads, it’s important that B2B marketers don’t give everything away and force a purchasing decision at some point. This can either come in the form of a trial expiration date or a only allowing paying members to use a certain product feature.

4. Create Customer Challenges to Encourage Feedback
Customer testimonials are a great marketing tactic but finding the right people to be your advocate can be difficult. To encourage more customers to get involved in marketing, B2B companies can create challenges for their customers that offer a reward upon completion of the challenge. For instance, B2B marketers can gamify their customer feedback by creating a challenge for customers provide a case study for how their product has helped them improve their operations. In exchange for offering up a compelling case study, marketers provide Amazon gift cards, or give away a service at their company.

5. Turn Your Marketing into a Game
In keeping with the gamification trend, B2B marketers can turn their educational marketing into an actual game. While this can be difficult to do in the B2B world, I recently found a great example in the networking company SonicWALL, which created a game designed for IT professionals called The Network Security Challenge. The game asks players to try and decide what to let past the firewall as potential threats come up. As the game progresses, threats come in faster and faster until you inevitably fail. The point is that no one can manually decide what to let past a firewall, so you need an enterprise network security solution like SonicWALL to automate the process. The game ultimately helped SonicWALL to sell tens of thousands of dollars of network security from the leads generated. B2B marketers everywhere should consider how they can teach the need for their product by creating a similarly educational game.

Research for this article was put together by Derek Singleton, CRM Analyst at Software Advice–a website that helps software buyers select the right software to support their business. You can connect with him at derek@softwareadvice.com.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it provides a framework to help B2B marketers start to think about how they can borrow B2C strategies and roll them into their marketing.  We can help you cash in on both your B2B and B2C efforts in no time! If you have any other tips to provide readers, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Comments (77)

  1. Whoa thrilled to see your article on this. I an current working on a B2B project and going to use some in it for sure. Keep up the good work and waiting for some more article from you in future

  2. Getting customer feedback is very often a difficult task. This is something we will all have to go out of our way if we want to receive this valuable information.

  3. Great article. B2B marketing is a challenge since B2B customers are not the ordinary ones. But setting up a customer challenge to get some testimonials is a great idea. Will try to implement it. Thanks for the impulse!

  4. Which marcom tools do you use except internet marketing? Which ones are the most effective? Keep up the good work and waiting for some more article from you in future

  5. The gamification suggestion is a great idea, and is actually being used by a variety of online banking services at the moment. Consumers love a challenge, and solving a puzzle to get to a prize at the end is a great way to increase conversion rate. Quick question : what are some creative ways of cleaning up a lead generation form, if, for example, you have an ecommerce site that sells health supplements?

    Thanks
    Alana

  6. [...] Ways to Optimize Pinterest for Your BusinessAmazon’s Same-Day Delivery Will Shake Up Retail4 Tips to Consumerize Your B2B MarketingGrundpreisangaben beim Online-VerkaufHier finden Sie auch alle früheren Lesetipps der Blog-Autoren. [...]

  7. [...] 4 Tips to Consumerize Your B2B Marketing [...]

  8. This is a great list as B2B marketing can be significantly more complex than B2C. I especially like tips #1 and #3. Looking forward to more great content here.

  9. In the beginning, I found it difficult to get costumer testimonials. Not because the costumers were not willing to give them but because I was afraid to ask for them.
    However, I agree: Such testimonials are important.

    Thanks for the tips.

  10. Offering your product for free trial is a proven marketing and business promotion skill that works. It should deliver good results once your product is good. It works for me.

  11. Amazing article..I haven’t thought about developing a game and promoting my product..Is there some other method as well where I can save on cost..?
    Thanx for the informative article..;)

  12. Great article. Personally i really like the idea of turning the marketing into a game. I always feel that the gaming industry is an immensely big market to tap into but i was quite clueless on how to make use of it in market. Now your idea certainly provided me with much more to explore. Will be trying this out.

    Anw thanks for sharing! Keep up with the good effort:)

    Regards,
    Joseph

  13. It’s true what they’re saying about turning your marketing into a game. One such solution which we’ve designed turned a simple questionnaire game in quite a powerful lead capture system for our client.

  14. “Get them to convert and worry about the details later.”

  15. @Maria Social media marketing is the way to save the cost.

  16. Is there anything about adsesne ?

  17. Getting customer feed back is always a challenge. Changing your marketing into a game seems like a great way to get them to interact with your brand.

  18. Great article, but still not all of these are suitable for every kind of business, especially when the product/service is highly customisable. Will definitely think about the game idea

  19. FREE is a Great Word to use. I have seen many Successful Bloggers using this Word to Attract Visitors. Thanks for the Great Post

  20. Offering your product for free trial is a proven marketing and business promotion skill that works. It should deliver good results once your product is good. It works for me.

  21. FREE is a Great Word to use

  22. Great article! I’m running a startup to help Australian SMB with B2B, and I can see how all 5 tips resonate with the community we’re building.

  23. Thank for sharing such a good post. I have just started B2B business and will use some of the above mentioned tips.

  24. Interesting suggestion of using gamification in a B2b context. I would think b2b buyers wouldnt be into this. Does anyone here have experience using gamification in a b2b context?

  25. Nice post!
    I think that free product trial is the best method to attract new customers.

  26. The B2B marketing has a much greater upside, but doesn’t build your brand as much as B2C.

  27. Great that you mentioned pricing. There’s been numerous studies confirming that the number 1 annoyance of buyers in the B2B market is the lack of a price. Buyers look for prices to get an idea of ballpark pricing when they shop around. At that part of their decision process, they aren’t looking to engage with a company more than casually. A contact form at this point is too much.

  28. I feel trials are one of the most important tips. It truly does form a bond and a trust that keeps the business coming back for more.

  29. Free products are for sure great bait for customers, but it is important to build a relation between you and customer.

  30. Great article..
    Gamification of the product is a great idea, we all like challenges.

  31. The some Great article! I’m running a startup to help Australian SMB with B2B, and I can see how all 5 tips resonate with the community we’re building.

  32. Games and competitions are great marketing tools. They can boost your brand and create interest.

  33. One approach that we’ve found to be effective is curation. We wanted to start a newsletter but I realized that our team wasn’t realistically going to create the content required. They all do, however, read interesting links elsewhere. So we made a newsletter that was just the most interesting stuff we’ve read during the past week with a bit of commentary. Proven to be a great tool and doesn’t take much time.

  34. Great article, I am working on a B2B project on the side and this will be great to refer back to. Thank you!

  35. Hi – an interesting article Mariel. I think though that it’s the way purchase decisions are made is what differentiates B2C and B2B (i.e. the process).

    Still, med companies use the technique by influencing the end customer (in the hopes that they will insist to the establishment that they want a particular brand of product)

    Pratish

  36. Offering a free service certainly has worked for me in the past. Making sure it leads to further sales, much like loss leading, is best and will always work if you’re offer is tempting.

  37. Offering a free service, one that leads to further sales, like a loss leader, is just such an excellent way to drum up business.

    This has worked for me in the past, thinking of ways to provide a free, impressive service, that takes mere minutes to carry out, but seems to carry great value, is priceless.

  38. I am a newbie in B2B Marketing, I always had trouble managing conversion rate, it is far too low. I’ll follow your tips, Thanks

  39. Turning marketing into a game is more difficult for professional service companies. I’m a lawyer. I can’t gimmick or pander. It doesn’t work. But good post. I enjoyed it.

  40. I feel trials are one of the most important tips. It truly does form a bond and a trust that keeps the business coming back for more.

  41. Thank you for the article. This is helpful as we’re trying to do the same B2B to B2C conversion for our products.

    Do you have any suggestions on the best games/puzzles to engage customers. Again, much appreciated.

  42. Free products and trials every so often will create and keep a bond with customers, no question about it.

  43. Some great tips one thing I found that works well to get testimonials is to offer existing customer money back if they get new people to buy its a great way of getting new sales without employing sales people

  44. B2B marketing is a great program. I prefer to use the tips 1, 3, 4. Thanks for the tips.

  45. Thankyou soo much of this great Article. Today, B2B companies are borrowing marketing strategies already proven successful in the B2C marketing world. They’re using these strategies to market to the common business user, create transparent pricing and offer a frictionless buying process.

  46. Good Ideas that i can use in my CPA Marketing

  47. As a person who has lost his job and wants to start B2B Marketing. these tips provides a great starting points for starting B2B Marketing

  48. Thanks for the great tips, i have a website where we offer free B2B legal advice, so the tips will come real handy. Thanks again

  49. You mention the use of a free trial – if that’s not feasible, a nice discount is a good alternative.

  50. Bundling services in a consumer fashion for B2B presentation has been very effective for us. The approach appeals to the consumer side of the buyer by reducing the number of choices in accessing our services. It allows them to work within a budget for their website maintenance services.

  51. Thanks for the information. I was not that much familiar with B2B Marketing before reading this. Great article and remarkable write up.

  52. No doubt these tips are very useful and awesome for marketing. One of my friend was asking about B2B legal advice. I will recommend him this superb article.

  53. Great points Bacci but I still feel, and have felt this way for some years now, that one of the biggest things we should be taking from the consumer side is creativity. In general the quality of creativity in B2B is embarrassing, yes there have been improvements over the years, and yes there are some great campaigns out there, but in general I often feel I have to apologise to my peers for the world of B2B. It is harder than ever to engage in a very busy marketplace, so the need for engaging creative comms is essential. Every time we’ve been able to persuade a client to be brave and more adventurous with the creative we’ve had enormous success. So B2B agencies, keep pushing the creative idea, it will be the difference.

  54. Thanks for sharing such a nice post. In today’s world B2B is really challenging task as well as getting response to the customers feedback is also very challenging.i like the tips which you are provided.

  55. This has worked for me in the past, thinking of ways to provide a free, impressive service, that takes mere minutes to carry out, but seems to carry great value, is priceless.

  56. I couldn’t agree more with offering some for of trial or incentive. I for one often sign up for products offering a free 30 day trial and end up and usually stay using that product or service. Of course this doesn’t work for every business model but is ideal for a service business such as software, music, movies, etc

  57. Always research a business before you deal with it. Pretend you are working for them for free.

  58. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be very useful to me and I am sure to all the commenter’s here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had joy writing this article.

  59. Wow, this is definitely a useful article in transferring the majority of sales from B2B to B2C.

    I can personally vouch that it is much easier said than done.
    Regardless, thanks for the guide. Great read.

  60. I will focus on my forms to make it asks for as little information as possible, this is a great advice thank you very much!
    Create customers challenge is a good idea too, thanks for this article.

  61. Very nice and informative article. I actually implemented few of the step mentioned above on my facebook page and it seems to help a lot. I would like to thank you for your great efforts. Please also review my website and you can find more SEO and internet marketing tips.

  62. Mariel,

    This is an interesting way to think of B2B marketing. A lot of the same ideas and principles, just different content. Whether it’s consumers or businesses, offering something free gets people comfortable with you and your expertise.

  63. Mariel,

    Interesting way of thinking about B2B marketing. It’s many of the same principles with different content. Providing free information to initiate a relationship is a good start.

    Mike

  64. B2B marketing is not as simple as is seems. I tried couple of times but failed

  65. Great article! I love the example of SonicWall – what a creative way to market a b2b business!

  66. Point 5 is a great one; customers want to enjoy they consumer experience, and playing one’s way to a purchase is one of the most convincing tools around.

  67. 3. Offer a Free Trial of Your Product

    I love this idea, gonna try to put it into practise asap, thx!

  68. Today, B2B companies are borrowing marketing strategies already proven successful in the B2C marketing world.

  69. Integrated marketing in B2B corporate with multiple channel is best method.
    Thanks for the article.

  70. It is nice to see that you pointed out cleaning up your lead contact list. We deal with this on a daily basis for emails, and it so true. Contacts change their emails frequently, and keeping your list up to date is important. Good reminder.

  71. Hello Mariel!

    I also agree that having a streamlined Lead Generation Form is very important. I do get annoyed when I get trapped into filling out a lot fields, and it makes me feel like I am getting into something that will cause me a lot calls or solicitations later.

    Good point on providing a free product trial. That does provide a lot of comfort to the hesitant consumer how may be 50/50 on buying at the moment.

    Thank you Mariel!

    Sam

  72. B2B customers are business minded – more difficult to approach.

    But when you are able to get one and satisfy it, they can generate the biggest revenue for your business

  73. Hey Mariel,
    Thank you for sharing B2B Marketing tips.This is quite helpful for my business in Louisiana, which offers business incentives.

  74. Great article! I love the example of SonicWall – what a creative way to market a b2b business! Thanks mate

  75. B2B customers are business minded – more difficult to approach.

  76. Hey,
    I want to stress that although this article gives some good advice on inbound marketing, making sales in a B2B setup is mostly about outbound marketing. I work in a SaaS startup in the marketing department, and we have almost no inbound marketing. We do however generate hundreds of leads for our sales reps every week, and the only reason we’ve been able to double our revenue every year up to $8 million is because of our sales reps agressively calling leads. Not waiting for them to come down into our laps by their own… You have to reach out to them.
    Conversely, I was talking with a marketing manager in another SaaS company in our industry and I was surprised to ear that they only rely on inbound marketing. The result: they only get 50-60 leads a month. How can you do anything with that ?

  77. Great advice on a sometimes awkward market – being in a business to business market it can be difficult to connect and as sites are generally not product selling (e-commerce) it can be really hard to get public awareness and popularity!

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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