Traditionally, business to business (B2B) marketing has never been regarded as an inspiring or particularly creative sector. However, that is changing — and companies can no longer get away with being formulaic and boring in their B2B efforts.
Business to consumer (B2C) is the exciting side of marketing. It’s the area where brands can get creative and explore endlessly innovative ways to capture audience attention and inspire consumers to buy. B2C is flexible and constantly evolving and its output is often visually or emotionally captivating. But have you ever seen a B2B marketing campaign that makes the audience cry? Have you, as a beauty industry professional, ever felt truly excited by a B2B advert or Instagram post?
Perhaps not. Many businesses still take a corporate approach to B2B branding and offer facts, numbers and large blocks of text. However, some companies are now borrowing ideas from B2C marketing and adding more fun to their B2B efforts — with marked success.
Here’s why your brand should do the same.
As Consumers Change, Business Changes Too
The current, rising generation of beauty professionals has grown up online. Social media has probably always been a part of their lives. And young brands don’t have the same work culture as traditional beauty incumbents; they’re more casual, more open, and they care about the way that products and branding comes across online. They are more likely to trust a brand that they feel a personal connection with; rather than brands which portray a more distant and overly professional image.
Experiential marketing doesn’t necessarily have to take place in the empirical world. If it’s not possible for customers to connect with your brand in person they will look for a virtual experience. Following the lead of B2C marketing, B2B brands increasingly offer a wide range of opportunities for product experience online; mobile sites and apps, games, social campaigns, simulations and highly personal reviews are all used to create a deeper customer experience.
Your Audience is Broad, So Be Creative
Like any customer, B2B customers want to relate to a brand. They want to recognize their personal challenges and pain points within your brand message and see that you are offering a solution. In short, they need to see that your brand is for them.
To do this it’s important to experiment with new campaign ideas and develop new ways of connecting and sharing with customers.
B2B brands are now embracing influencer marketing, previously a strategy taken only by B2C brands. Olaplex is a hair treatment product which is sold to salons for professionals to use on their clients, as well as being sold on from salon to customer. Olaplex built a relationship with influencer Justin Anderson, who promoted the product online and packed out huge in-person Olaplex ‘color education’ workshops.
Product education in general is an effective strategy for B2B beauty brands, whether an influencer is involved or not. Eideal, a premium hair product brand and distributor across the MENA region, provides product education to the salons it supplies. In an interview with digital marketing expert Richard McKeon, Eideal’s founder Haysam Eid said “it’s important for salon owners to be aware of the direction [in which] they want to drive their business — and they should always keep an eye on what’s going on in the industry.”
Eideal offers valuable support to its distributing salons by giving them that industry education, including insight into the brands and products that are currently popular among salon customers at any given time. Eid noted that his brand has “expanded…to a variety of products and we’re now the distributors of international brands like Davines and Amazon Keratin.” Teaching salons how to use those products and how to sell them establishes B2B customer trust and loyalty.
Connect With B2B Customers as People
It’s easy to think of a B2B customer as a business — but don’t neglect the personal connections you can make within that business.
You are selling to a person, not to a corporation. Google research shows that B2B customers are, on average, “significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.” A B2B brand can double its impact by cultivating emotional connections rather than focusing only on function and facts.
Embrace storytelling and weave the informative aspects of your marketing campaign into an engaging narrative. Remember that creative marketing is not just for B2C brands; B2B brands need to captivate and connect with their audience too. It’s connection that will cultivate long-lasting loyalty.