What were once the clearly defined boundaries of B2B and B2C are vanishing fast, so how can marketers survive in this new era? Adopt an H2H marketing mindset, writes Alexandra Middleton.
I have no doubt that we have all come across them on our travels; the type of person who engages you in a conversation, but is never really 100% there. They may be nodding and smiling as you tell your latest anecdote, but in reality they are looking over your shoulder planning their next move as they work the room. They are a disengaged communicator, focused on their own agenda rather than the conversation at hand. If life were one long Seinfeld episode, the disengaged communicator would hold their own next to the ‘close talker’ and ‘low talker’ whose lack of social awareness sees them mercilessly shunned from the group’s favour.
Unfortunately this label applies to many of today’s advertisers, who rather than engaging with consumers are communicating without actually listening. Their marketing initiatives tick the box in terms of delivering their brand message, but it’s more a case of going through the motions than executing a relevant and effective campaign. With the rise of content personalisation, consumers now expect marketers to speak to them as individuals. Today’s consumer is empowered and in control. They have information at their fingertips, they know what they want and they won’t settle until they get it.
So what does this mean for marketers? It means they need to build a brand that’s real and relevant in the world of their consumers. In the past, marketers were encouraged to tailor their brand message around two target segments, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). This is no longer the case. Consumers don’t see themselves as fitting in one of two boxes, so why should we? If marketers really want to connect with consumers they need to focus less on labels and instead put themselves in the consumers’ shoes. They need to communicate as humans.
Coined by Social Business Strategist and CEO of Pure Matter Bryan Kramer, the concept of human-to-human – or H2H – marketing couldn’t be simpler. It requires marketers to be genuine, to not only engage in personalised conversations but to tune in and actually listen.
A great example of a campaign that caters to the unique needs of the consumer is the ‘Your World’ Yellow Pages campaign launched in November last year. The issue presented in the ad is nothing new: a mother-in-law intent on meddling in the planning of her son’s wedding day. It’s the solution Yellow Pages offers that is unique. Despite the fact that Yellow Pages’ new comparison service is connecting the couple with a ‘niche’ business, the personalised conversation speaks to a wider audience. The message is clear, regardless of how individual your need is, Yellow Pages is the solution.
10 ways to shift your thinking from B2B/B2C to H2H
- Consumers should be seen as individuals, not categories.
- Consumers should not be underestimated, they know what they want and can tell you how they want to get it.
- Be real, listen and engage.
- Keep it simple, consumers are sceptical of mass multi million dollar marketing.
- Be open to communication, regardless of whether it’s critical.
- Acknowledge that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy.
- Communication should be natural, avoid confusing acronyms and jargon.
- In order to position a company as a trusted brand, communication needs to go both ways.
- Never make assumptions about consumers.
- Be useful. The age of ‘branding’ ads has gone.