In September 2012, Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo, wrote a great article on Marketing Profs about how the best B2B marketers think like B2C marketers. In his article, Glass says "the best B2B marketers are successful because they start with building a brand," by doing things like developing marketing that speaks to the target audience, using visuals to sell your product, and being human in your communications.
I agree with Glass's framework. But I think some of the best B2B marketers are not only thinking like B2C marketers but also borrowing marketing strategies that have already proven successful in the consumer world.
In the tech sector, borrowing from the consumer world has been dubbed the "consumerization of IT." In my view, we're also starting to see the consumerization of B2B marketing. That is, B2B marketing—at least in the tech world—is starting to mirror the simple marketing, transparent pricing, and frictionless buying process of the B2C world.
Although this trend is still developing, several ways that B2B companies can borrow strategies from the consumer world are already evident. Here are four ways that B2B marketers can consumerize their marketing.
Before getting started, I should note that all of my examples come from the industry which I'm most familiar—enterprise tech. Nevertheless, I think that many B2B companies can adapt these strategies to their own marketing.
1. Invest more in marketing to reduce reliance on outside sales
Today's B2B marketers have the potential to smooth out the B2B sales process by mimicking the B2C marketing strategy of providing detailed product information online, publishing fixed prices on their website, and providing an easy online purchasing option. Getting this kind of information on the Web is an important element of B2B marketing today, because roughly 70 percent of B2B buying activity (i.e., the research and comparison phase) is completed before a salesperson is engaged.
This big shift would not be an easy transition for a lot of B2B companies. Though it's notoriously difficult to offer a fixed price to B2B buyers, marketers can get around this issue by providing tiered pricing structures that give the buyer an idea of how much they can expect to spend. As for paying online, marketers will likely want to provide more options than the standard B2C option of paying by credit card. Also a good idea is to include options for direct billing or paying by credit line.