B-to-b on the go

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Adapting to more fluid work environments, b-to-b marketers adopt b-to-c strategies
Adapting to more fluid work environments, b-to-b marketers adopt b-to-c strategies

“Even from the standpoint of small- and medium-sized businesses, the decision maker is on the go, is mobile, and we want to give them the convenience of information through various mobile devices, as well as the accessibility,” says Susan Rosenberg, UPS PR manager. “We just give them a lot of resources for wherever they are,” she adds. In the fall of last year, the company launched a new marketing platform emphasizing the suite of offerings the company provides to let business decision makers manage their work.

The company sent out direct mail pieces to enterprise prospects with the tagline, “I Love Logistics.” The piece outlined UPS's growing offerings, including the UPS Mobile App and Quantum View Notify, which allows customers to check on the delivery status of packages sent, all focused on the individual as the main business unit.

The company launched UPS MyChoice in October. The service allows consumers to get packages delivered to their residential home — an increasingly useful service for the many executives telecommuting at least part-time. Individuals get alerts one day before the package is delivered to their home, allowing the individual to release their signature electronically, redirect it somewhere else or adjust their plans to be sure they are there to sign for it.

“You can take UPS technology applications and integrate it right into your platforms, like QuickBooks or Intuit, so it's totally transparent,” Rosenberg says.

Additionally, the mail piece directs its recipients back to the website, encouraging them to visit ups.com/profits to view a video demonstration for the chance to win $4,500 worth of technical support from Best Buy's Geek Squad.

This emphasis on the company website is consistent with trends in the b-to-b sector in general. Traditionally, b-to-c companies were expected to exceed the traffic of b-to-b sites. However, according to demand generation firm Eloqua, the gap between the two sides has decreased significantly, with b-to-b shifting from having a fourth of the Web traffic of b-to-c sites in 2008 to now just less than one-and-a-half times the traffic of b-to-c. If the trend continues, both sectors may soon be at parity.

Just as marketers must speak to prospects on their own terms, the marketing message itself has increasingly become more focused on striking an emotional chord with the audience, shifting to a focus on speaking to the individual as a human being, rather than a faceless company.

“To some extent, b-to-b has always been person-to-person, but these technological changes have amplified the voice of the individual, they have accelerated the influence of the individual in decision making,” says Rick Segal, president worldwide and chief practice officer of marketing agency gyro. “They have permitted individuals to bring their own personal values to the decision making process in a way that historically they did not.”

For gyro's client, Hobart Corporation, a manufacturer of food, grocery and hospitality equipment, gyro shifted the marketing focus from the specific qualities of the product to a more consumer-style campaign focused on the idea of baking from scratch.

The craft of b-to-b marketing is taking on a more consumer-oriented quality as well. Adobe's Chertudi likens marketing to b-to-b prospects these days to the work of a publisher or TV production company; a greater focus has been put on editing and high production value to create not just useful but entertaining content. In today's cluttered media world that also means getting a prospect's attention quickly and getting straight to the point.

“We have to get really good at distilling complex topics in a very concise message, because if you're reading content on a website on your smartphone, most people are less patient and have less time to consume that,” Chertudi says.

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