Engagement, experience, experimentation and emotion, were the four lessons from our recent panel discussion on what consultancy firms can learn from B2C marketing.
For all that consumer marketing often has the big budgets and extensive creative media exposure, we heard that much of the best B2B work holds its own in that company.
The key is to get beyond the rational and appeal to customers on an emotional level, in a variety of ways.
Jim Horsley, CEO of Tungtree Communications, outlined the all-important need to make it easy for customers to do business with you:
- Engage the audience. People listen to and remember imaginative stories and bold purpose, not the detail of product attributes. As their buying cycles are less predictable than before, businesses need to remain front of mind constantly and ensure that potential customers can find out what they need. Good communications around the big issues will get people thinking.
- Think about how potential customers will experience your brand. This can range from the high-street trend for personalising products, right through to using big data to shape them around real customer insights. The focus has to be about them, not you.
- Be ready to experiment. While a lot of consultancy firms (and, indeed all businesses) like to stick to winning formulas, the pace of change in both the business world and how it communicates makes that impossible now. This doesn’t always mean being at the bleeding edge, but it does mean being ready to embrace new approaches, and in doing so being prepared to fail.
In practice, consultancy firms should take full advantage of the content that their businesses generate, and use it effectively across all channels, argued Christine Downton, senior consultant at Roth Observatory International. Consumer brands often need to develop highly imaginative creative platforms. That is often because they don’t have the content that B2B consultancies can take for granted.
Many consultancy firms could do more to build loyalty among their customers, according to Craig Harrold, director at Propoganda. While they may not have the ‘big data’ available to shape this, they are more likely to have ‘intimate data’ to inform the approach.
Consultancy firms should think more about the emotion that is involved in a sale, argued Simon Foster, managing partner at Oystercatchers. While many believe that B2B decisions are more rational than consumers’, that is not always born out. Indeed, the ‘McGraw-Hill advertisement’ put the lie to that myth back in the 1960s.
Written by Guy Corbet, Tungtree Communications.