What can B2C learn from B2B in 2021?

3 lessons from marketing leaders


We often hear about B2B companies trying to behave more like consumer brands, and in 2020, for obvious reasons, this reached a tipping point.

But what lessons can B2C marketers learn from the B2B game, for a change?

Without a doubt, 2020 was the year to double-down on agility and empathy, and businesses who could adapt the fastest came out on top. Whilst plunging consumer confidence is still largely impacting most B2C markets and shrinking advertising spend, B2B activities have rebounded apace. This resilience is down to an accelerated (and forced) digital presence, enabling B2B brands to connect with their customers better than ever before.

We spoke to marketing leaders across tech, automotive and industrial sectors to understand how they thrived and what they learnt from a remarkably tough year.

Lesson one: help customers help themselves – no strings attached

In 2020, B2B brands made it easier for customers to access and navigate helpful content on-demand. SEO-tailored portals and resource hubs that made self-service possible became even more integral to B2B marketing strategies.

‘Making it easier for customers to access training, advice, and thought leadership content has been critical in restoring market confidence’
Sonia White, Director, Global Marketing Communications at BorgWarner Inc.

Lesson two: sharing – and collaborating – is caring

2020 also saw huge numbers of B2B virtual communities, workshops and panel discussions, focused on sharing experiences – successes and challenges – with peers and competitors alike.

‘Our transition to 100% virtual events has enabled us to have greater access to senior executives at scale. We’ve hosted global roundtables where the conversation has been about what we can collectively learn from 2020 as an industry. It’s not about selling.’
Holly Mehigan, Field Marketing Manager at Voxbone, now Bandwidth

Lesson three: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – repurpose it   

Mid-2020 saw marketing budgets freeze, spurring a greater need to ‘sweat your assets’ and maximise ROI across all customer touchpoints. This, combined with zero face-to-face events, meant that sales teams needed all the support they could get to improve digital customer interactions.

‘We’re getting smarter with how we use our automation tools and LinkedIn campaigns. By repurposing campaign messaging in creative ways, we’re able to complement our traditional sales efforts on a global level’
Daniela Lange, Global Communications Specialist at ABB   

To summarise, being ‘all-business’ has never looked so good. We’re wrong to assume that the convergence of B2C and B2B is always led in one direction –– in 2020, B2B was more helpful, collaborative and efficient at leveraging digital channels and supporting its traditional strategies, than ever before.

We’ve seen B2B marketers really step up their game in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and of course, the complexity that comes with the territory.

What strengths will B2B showcase in 2021? We’re optimistic.

Agency Inc
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