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Marketing leaders across industries such as pharma, healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing have multiple stakeholders to consider when developing an effective marketing strategy.

On the one hand, as a marketer you have to influence business decision-makers and convince them that your product or service is superior to competitors', offering greater value. On the other hand, you have to provide sufficient education to those decision-makers so they feel comfortable and competent enough to sell the offering to your other target audience: the consumer.

That relationship constitutes what marketers call a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) model. And that model can be daunting if you don't have a recipe for success.

To build an effective B2B2C marketing plan:

  1. Build a line of communication between the business and its consumers.
  2. Identify where the greatest area of opportunity exists.
  3. Don't be afraid to break the mold.

1. Build a line of communication between the business and its consumers

When beginning the process of building the audience strategy, begin with data-driven audience planning from both the B2B and the B2C perspectives. That means diving beyond the demographics to understand motivations, values, and media consumption habits to inform audience activation and channel execution.

Once you have a 360-degree understanding of those audiences, it's important to consider the relationship and lines of communication. How can you use your marketing strategy to facilitate a conversation between the business and the business's consumer?

More often than not, the business is at least familiar with the category of the product or service you are promoting. So, instead of educating on the category itself, drive brand name recognition, unique value propositions, and the benefit to its bottom line.

Alternatively, consumers have a more rudimentary understanding requiring not only tactics that drive brand awareness and recall but also overall awareness of the category and ways it serves their needs.

It's critical that the marketing for each respective consumer journey take place concurrently, so when the B2B2C conversation begins, both sides are empowered and informed.

2. Identify where the greatest area of opportunity exists

No brand I have worked with has come to me and said, "I have an unlimited budget." Therefore, it's important to have a strategic, data-driven approach guiding where your marketing dollars are spent: You'll need to carefully consider which audiences and tactics are going to drive the greatest opportunity and divide the budget accordingly.

A Forrester report (subscription or purchase required) on B2B2C customer journey mapping suggests, "Even though you're seeking to improve the end-customer's experience, beginning with processes that have a positive impact on your partner's experience or bottom lines can build momentum and help you work with them in the future." In a B2B2C context, that means prioritizing efforts that have an impact the business partner to ultimately benefit your end-users.

Research and ask questions to gain a strong understanding of the full customer journey both for partners and for end-customers. Does the business hold the control, with the end-consumer deferring decisions to the advice of the consultant or salesperson? Or does the end-consumer take an active role in bringing ideas to the salesperson/consultant? Does the end-consumer have the ability to complete a purchase without help, or does the salesperson/consultant hold the keys that unlock the offering?

Those are all critical questions as you think about not only your audience strategy but also messaging strategy and resource allocation.

Moreover, you need to do your research on where those customers spend time and where they are most attentive. Use that research as a starting point for your media mix, but also think of it as a learning opportunity to either support or refute your hypotheses about your customers.

By fostering experimentation in your marketing strategy, you will avoid the pitfalls of confirmation bias and drive greater insights and effectiveness in the process.

3. Don't be afraid to break the mold

Your marketing team likely already has an established model for your brand's B2B2C strategy. If it's working... awesome! Don't undo what's already accomplishing your business goals.

However, if you are frustrated by lack of results or you need to pivot as your brand undergoes strategic changes, don't be intimidated by taking a risk and trying something new.

Maybe the traditional playbook isn't the way to go any longer, and instead you need to lean into a more creative approach. After all, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.* So even if your colleagues think you're insane because you bring out-of-the box ideas to the table, it's better than remaining in a perpetual cycle of frustration.

* * *

As you're building, or revamping, your B2B2C marketing strategy, think of it as an exciting opportunity:

  • You're getting ready to go back on a first date with your target consumers and to get to know them further.
  • You're finding ways to be the digital hero of your team by identifying a strategy that creates even greater opportunities for your company.
  • And you're challenging the status quo to figure out what actually works and accepting what does not.

* Albert Einstein is often credited with having created that aphorism, but the first recorded instance of it is apparently in a 1981 newspaper article describing an Al-Anon meeting.

More Resources on Marketing Strategy

The Tactics of Marketing Strategy: A Marketer's Guide

Forget B2B and B2C: It's a B2P World Now

Do Your New Products Have Real Competitive Advantages?

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image of Elise Stieferman

Elise Stieferman is the director of marketing and strategy at Coegi, a performance-marketing partner for brands and agencies. She has extensive knowledge of the digital landscape, including brand-direct experience as well as agency.

LinkedIn: Elise Stieferman