As business becomes more personalized, a trend that has only grown larger due to Coronavirus, B2B marketing is pivoting to adopt B2C tactics. And it’s wise thinking. Here’s why.

Just as cell phones have doubled and adapted as business and personal tools, so have brands during the pandemic edition of working from home. Our straight back office chairs have been replaced with plush pillows and perhaps a toddler-sized company mascot running around. Adaptation is the new black, so too, B2B enterprises must become ever more data-driven, agile, and empathetic. Brands are people too, after all. At least as far as consumer perception goes.

Brands Are People Too

What B2B marketing traditionally fails to recognize and what has become crucial today, is that their customers behind the businesses are real people. Just as there was a man behind the curtain in Wizard of Oz, so there are real people behind businesses. Now is the time to take notes on B2C marketing tactics, as brand consumers everywhere want a more personal experience.

And even though B2B enterprises have adopted ecommerce options, and with it live chat and Apps, COVID-19 is further highlighting the need for personal connection via digital engagement.

One shining B2B star adapting and evolving during this time is Zoom.

Zoom hasn’t let grass grow under their feet. Once seen as a business meeting tool almost explicitly, it now connects grandparents to their grandchildren, and parents to loved ones, and friends to friends. During the COVID-19 outbreak, this company went a long way to engage consumers stuck indoors……….

zoom-home-office

And personalize themselves by introducing the faces and families working on the other side, using the hashtag #meethappy.

zoom-baby

Zoom is humanizing their brand and showing consumers everywhere that they are more than just a business meeting tool. Recognizing the blurring line between B2B and B2C, Zoom has become a trailblazer in using B2C tactics, highlighting that the business user and the personal user are one in the same.

Like Zoom, it’s time for brands to step out from behind the faceless business veneer and create something more approachable and appealing to other businesses looking for new ways to interact and connect.

Applying B2C Tactics to Your B2B World

Wanting a product that not only solves problems but appeals to them personally, the new consumer-ish B2B company needs to walk a fine line. Looking at some of the top B2C strategies we can see how B2B can take a page from their marketing book. And social analytics is key to their success in many ways – encouraging and capturing user-generated content (UGC) is a top tactic it makes possible.

UGC captures demonstrate that brands are paying attention to people, just as IBM does here:

IBM-UGC

It encourages consumer engagement and enables the company to advertise (freely) with the cheerleading and backing of their consumers. This makes the brand more accessible and appealing. And emotional appeal is perhaps the strongest tactic companies have.

Studies show that emotions drive brand loyalty. And both businesses and the consumers who run them want to support companies who care about them. So, this is an opportunity for brands to take advantage of every day of this pandemic.

Apple applies this tactic expertly, combining UGC and empathy, while delivering a message that everyone can relate to right now.

Apple-shotoniphone-campaign

And further exploring Apple’s  #shotoniphone campaign and asserting that “Everyone has a story to tell,” Apple is encouraging people to share, interact and promote them, vying for the chance to be tagged and reshared to 23.5m followers:

Apple-theathomeseries-campaign

But it isn’t as simple as this seems, of course. Brands need to encourage and promote meaningful consumer content, or else the effort is pointless. And that requires discovering emerging trends with market research and then monitoring consumer sentiment with social listening. It’s a one-two combo that every B2B must have. Here’s why . . .

Consumer & Market Intelligence for the Win

To demonstrate consumer and market intelligence in action, we can get a bit meta with our search. For example, there’s lots of chatter around understanding and adapting B2B marketing tactics today:

bar-graph-capturing-b2b-marketing-today

Not surprisingly, adapting B2B marketing to today’s trends is at the top of the list. Delving deeper we can see just a few examples of the 3,842 total articles listed to get a sense of some top trending articles:

examples-of-b2b-marketing-conversation

A perfect partnership in market research is consumer intelligence informed by social analytics and powered by next generation artificial intelligence (AI)! This helps companies see how consumers feel about the market trends they’ve uncovered above. In the summary metrics graph below, we see conversations peak on May 8th.

summary-metrics-around-b2b-conversations

And we can explore these conversations to see what is resonating, along with a bevy of additional insight. Here, we can see who is saying it and where they’re from:

capturing-consumer-conversations-in-realtime-to-see-the-need-for-b2c-tactics

Associated word clouds reveal additional intel around B2B marketing tactics – and how consumers feel about them:

word-cloud-showing-shift-toward-b2c

Brand Passion Index Indicators

Perhaps one of the most useful tools though is Brand Passion Index (BPI), helping brands to compare themselves with the competition. Below we have a friendly BPI competition between the computer gods Macintosh, Lenovo, IBM and HP.

passion-intensity-around-computer-brands-found-on-brand-passion-index

Which is winning the consumer sentiment war? In this index the amount of sentiment and chatter about a brand is indicated by the size of the bubble, while the placement of the bubble shows the intensity of passion. Macintosh wins out on the amount of chatter, but HP generates a little more passion intensity. And both Lenovo and IBM are winning in intensity and net sentiment. Although the conversation is quite small, it’s powerful – and that matters if the right folks are talking about them.

Are they? Below is a side-by-side comparison of these four companies with top people mentioned alongside them during this past month. It would be a neat exploration for any of them to see what is happening there specifically to sort out potential advertising strategy or see what is/isn’t working with existing efforts:

key-people-mentioned-in-context-of-a-given-conversation

Whether you want to know what the top trend is for B2B marketing, or explore what competitors are doing to succeed, having a good research partner is vital. Consumer and marketing analytics can be your who, what, where, and your eye in the sky for social listening and beyond. And brands need every bit of consumer and market intelligence they can capture right now. Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you everything it has to offer!

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