What Consumer Marketing Can Teach You About B2B

Business to Consumer Marketing Strategies for B2B Brands

Along with the accelerated digital transformation that the entire world has experienced in less than two years, business-to-business (B2B) marketing has transformed drastically. An industry once primarily based on cold-calling and personal relationships now looks increasingly similar to consumer marketing. In fact, the global B2B eCommerce market is expected to reach $6.2 trillion by 2027.

Not only are B2B buyers purchasing online, but they’re also looking for experiences similar to their process for shopping for consumer products. According to Accenture, 50% of B2B buyers want improved personalization from their online suppliers. These professionals are expecting the same kind of personalized marketing that consumer brands are focusing on delivering.

Another trend shaping both consumer and business brands is the demand for authentic and empathetic marketing to build brand trust. In June 2020, the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report found that 74% of consumers believe brand trust has become important due to brands’ impacts on society. This trend is not just for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands. B2B brands have found success with incorporating empathetic strategies into their operations, too.

To keep up with the future of B2B marketing, brands need to unlearn the traditional stereotypes of B2B versus B2C sales and take on new approaches to reaching customers.

B2B vs. B2C Misconceptions

Marketing and sales professionals know the clear differences between consumer and business strategies. Business to consumer marketing typically involves a larger market, targets an emotional audience and prioritizes brand awareness. B2B marketing, however, traditionally sells to a niche market, targets rational buyers who are purchasing products and services for their business and prioritizes lead generation.  While consumer brands make quick sells and focus on moving customers down a shorter sales funnel, business sales representatives typically build relationships over a longer period of time.

While B2B marketers do target smaller markets and sales representatives continue to develop relationships with clients, the two types of marketing are becoming more alike. Today, branding is important for B2B brands. Although B2B customers typically take more time to acquire, brands are using funnel strategies to drive sales. While the market is still niche, B2B marketers are realizing that buyers are people, too, and they appreciate an emotional touch just like they expect from consumer brands.

Consumer Marketing Strategies to Copy

As the B2B landscape changes, marketers can consider different marketing strategies to approach their audiences. Here are a few things we can learn from consumer brands:

Use consumer data.

Even when targeting a more niche market, consumer data can reveal valuable insights about your audience. Marketers can identify demographic information such as job titles, social media visited, shopping habits and interests. This information can inform what content topics to focus on in your marketing, where to focus your marketing efforts and more.

Market with empathy.

We might assume that all B2B buyers make rational decisions, but they are people, too. That’s why B2B marketing should appeal to emotion, even with a professional tone. Creating a customer persona is one tactic brands are using to identify their ideal customer. Once you identify who you are speaking to, you can approach them with a more empathic message based on their needs.

Additionally, brands can appeal to emotion through marketing tactics such as video. In fact, including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%, and 73% of B2B marketers say video increased their ROI.

Evaluate the sales funnel.

In B2B sales, there are typically more steps involved in the decision-making process that (hopefully) leads to purchase. Marketers can work with the sales team to identify where marketing can move people along the sales funnel. This strategy can help nurture a lead over a longer period of time and works even for niche markets.

Create a branding strategy.

Branding strategies originated in the consumer world, but now B2B buyers are also finding brands via paid, earned, shared and owned media channels. We might think of social media as just for consumers, but an impressive 59% of marketers generate B2B leads on LinkedIn. Branding tactics like a company blog and bylined articled are also key to the B2B buyer’s journey. Buyers consume 13 pieces of content on average before making a purchasing decision.

Consumer Marketing for the B2B Brand

More aspects of our professional and personal lives take place online, and to adapt, marketers must have a clear picture of their customers and target them with personalized marketing. By reviewing the above B2C marketing strategies, B2B brands can also find success in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Interested in making your business to business marketing more personal? We’re experts in B2B campaigns – contact us today.


Theresa Colston is a Senior Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing creative marketing ideas and building connections to drive results for clients.