Bridging the Divide: How B2B Brands Are Mastering B2C Marketing Tactics for Growth

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Bridging the Divide: How B2B Brands Are Mastering B2C Marketing Tactics for Growth

For decades, a great divide has existed between B2B and B2C marketing. B2B brands have often turned up their noses at the emotional, flashy tactics of their B2C counterparts. Meanwhile, B2C marketers have scoffed at the dry, technical approach of B2B. But times are changing.

A recent study found that several key B2C marketing principles also apply to B2B. In fact, B2B brands that embrace strategies like investing in share of voice and focusing on customer acquisition are seeing much faster growth compared to those sticking to the old B2B playbook.

So why the shift? Perhaps B2B and B2C aren’t so different after all. As buyers become more consumerized in their purchasing habits, the lines between the two blur. Or maybe B2B marketers are waking up to the missed opportunities that come with taking a broader approach to branding and growth.

Whatever the case, in our divided world, this marketing convergence gives hope that common ground can be found in unexpected places. Read on as we delve into the research behind this surprising new trend. Could mastering B2C strategies hold the key for your B2B brand’s future success?

The Study and Its Surprising Findings

In 2019, marketing effectiveness researchers Les Binet and Peter Field conducted an insightful study for LinkedIn’s B2B Institute. They set out to uncover the key principles of growth in B2B marketing and determine if B2C strategies also apply.

What they discovered was remarkable.

Not only did several B2C practices translate to B2B, some actually worked better for B2B brands. The research outlined 5 core principles:

  • Invest in share of voice – There’s a strong tie between ad spending share of voice and market share growth that mirrors B2C effectiveness.
  • Balance brand building and sales activation – An optimal split is 55% activation and 45% brand. More activation is needed in B2B.
  • Expand your customer base – Growing through acquisition trumps loyalty. Most B2Bs focus too narrowly on existing customers.
  • Maximize mental availability – Campaigns that boost brand saliency in buying situations perform better.
  • Use emotion – Emotional campaigns drive up to 7x higher long term effectiveness through stronger branding.

Shockingly, the research also showed most B2B brands take the opposite approach:

  • Relying entirely on sales activation over brand building
  • Betting on loyalty strategies rather than customer acquisition

This reluctance to embrace B2C strategies seems to be hampering their growth. But as the research shows, B2B and B2C may have more in common than we realized.

Breaking Down the Five Key Principles

The research uncovered several vital principles B2B brands should focus on:

Invest In Share Of Voice

  • There’s a robust tie between share of voice (SOV) and market share growth identical to B2C effectiveness.
  • Yet most B2Bs don’t measure or utilize SOV. This misses a major growth opportunity.

Balance Brand Building And Activation

  • Optimal ad budget split is 55% activation, 45% brand. B2B requires more activation focus than B2C.
  • But most B2Bs over-index on activation. Balancing brand and activation boosts effectiveness.

Expand Your Customer Base

  • Growing through acquisition is more profitable than loyalty.
  • Many B2Bs narrowly chase loyalty from existing customers.
  • Broad reach campaigns that speak to both customers and prospects perform best.

Maximize Mental Availability

  • Build brand saliency to make it top-of-mind during buying situations.
  • When your brand is readily recalled, effectiveness improves.

Use Emotion

  • Emotional campaigns drive up to 7x higher long term results through stronger branding.
  • Rational campaigns better support short-term sales activation.
  • Balance both emotional and rational appeals.

Following these principles paves the path to growth. The research makes clear B2B and B2C strategies converge more than expected. Marketers who embrace this stand to gain an advantage.

Why the Longstanding Divide?

  • B2B marketers have traditionally shunned B2C strategies. Why?
  • Ingrained beliefs that emotional branding and mass awareness don’t apply.
  • Plus, the deeply held view that loyalty, not acquisition, drives growth.

Misconception 1: Emotion Has No Place In B2B

  • The belief B2B buyers are purely rational underpins this.
  • Yet the research found emotional campaigns drive higher effectiveness.
  • Rational appeals better support short-term sales activation.
  • Balancing emotional branding and rational activation works.

Misconception 2: Loyalty Trumps Acquisition

  • Many B2Bs think chasing loyalty generates superior returns.
  • But empirical evidence shows the opposite – acquisition matters most.
  • As reach expands, loyalty naturally increases too.
  • Fixating on loyalty leaves growth opportunities untapped.

The divide persists from false assumptions. With proof many B2C strategies apply, the chance to evolve arrives. Marketers who embrace this convergence will pull ahead of the curve.

B2B and B2C: More Alike Than Assumed

The research revealed striking similarities between B2B and B2C marketing. This convergence challenges long-held beliefs on both sides.

Emotional Impact Matters In B2B Too

  • B2B buyers aren’t purely rational actors. Emotion drives decisions too.
  • Campaigns activating feelings like optimism and confidence perform better long-term.
  • Yet B2Bs traditionally focused on functional appeals over emotional pull.
  • The capability to move B2B audiences emotionally remains underutilized.

Acquiring Customers Fuels The Growth Engine

  • Many B2Bs believe chasing loyalty brings superior returns.
  • But the data shows customer acquisition expands revenue faster.
  • As brands attract more customers, loyalty naturally increases.
  • Fixating too narrowly on loyalty leaves potential untapped.

Similar disciplines drive success across B2B and B2C. Adjusting perspectives to leverage this presents opportunities on both fronts. The perceived divide seems more imagined than real.

Bridging the Divide

The perceived chasm between B2B and B2C appears more imagined than real. Key principles of effectiveness hold across both domains.

This presents opportunities for B2B brands to balance strategies, blending approaches from both worlds. While B2B marketing has unique needs, expanding tactics beyond conventional wisdom promises upside.

The research revealed emotional messaging, mental availability, share of voice, and customer acquisition as areas where B2C learnings apply. Testing such concepts against business outcomes will reveal what works.

Of course B2B buying journeys differ from B2C purchase paths. But similarities exist in the underlying psychology. Leveraging emotions and perceptions drives decisions and relationships on both sides.

As in life, preserving a growth mindset matters most. Rigid perspectives limit potential. The perceived divide between B2B and B2C owes more to assumptions than reality. Keeping an open and experimental posture will reveal new ways to drive results.

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