Forget B2B or B2C—It’s About C2B

We’ve all heard it before.

Embrace the four P’s of marketing—product, price, place, promotion. And live by the four C’s—consumers, costs, convenience, and communication. But several keynote speakers at this year’s IBM Amplify in San Diego challenged leading marketers to push past that more traditional approach and consider a more dynamic strategy. “Choose to embrace a new way of thinking,” said Alex Banayan a venture capitalist for Alsop Louie Partners. “Today can be the day that changes your business—forever. Choose to embrace new technology; choose to take the third door; choose to embrace new ideas. Customer engagement is the center of reality.” In fact, he said there’s just one C in marketing—the customer.

Banayan and other speakers featured center stage at the San Diego Convention Center insisted that marketing today is less about formulaic strategies and models and more about emotions, insights culled from data, and experiences.

“The great brands understand that it’s all about emotions—by being authentic and being true to emotions,” said Deepak Advani, general manager for IBM Commerce. “We are moving to a world [in which] you need to really understand the customer. We’re moving to a C2B world—customer to business.”

Understanding this improved way of thinking drives innovation and creates relationships. And frankly, doing so, Advani said, will help push your marketing messages ahead of the pack. “It’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish ourselves amid all of that noise,” he continued. But the key to break through, he said, is analytics. 

Analytics are going to be pervasive in everything we do. Different types of data will enable that C-to-B world,” Advani explained. “Interaction data, descriptive data, attitudinal data, behavioral. Layering all that info on top of each other helps companies have a deep understanding of customers.” In essence, when you piece the data together you get a feel for who customers are, what they are doing, and perhaps most important, why they are doing it: “When you have that, then you’ll have relevant, in-context conversations.”

In fact, Wharton School professor Jonah Berger insists that customer stories are the currency of conversations; marketers can use those convos to promote their products and services. “Marketers have focused on technology but sometimes are forgetting about people,” Berger said.

For example, triggers should be less about automation and more about mental signals in everyday life that can be tied to a brand. An excellent example is GEICO’s “Happier Than” campaign, which featured a camel’s elation on Wednesday—Hump Day.

Berger says during the past two years, spikes in shares happened every Wednesday. Why? Because people shared it even more every Hump Day. Wednesday is the natural trigger. It’s a natural conversation starter. “Word of mouth is much more impactful than traditional ads,” Berger said.

So in the end, what does all of this mean? “There’s a lot going on with consumer behavior. We need to be spending our time going back to our core value proposition—people,” said Blake Chandlee, VP of global partnerships at Facebook. “Move from a world of tech—cookies and modeling—and move toward people.”

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