For four years I was in charge of driving email acquisition and website traffic in the BtoC space. Working for a large CPG company in the Midwest, every day we would ask ourselves questions such as: Who is our customer? Are they searching for cookie recipes on their mobile phone? What do they like to make for dinner? Do they prefer getting food ideas via email? After four years of testing, we learned that our consumer was a female who browsed recipes on devices and apps, loved chicken for dinner more than beef, apple recipes in the fall, and wanted the top Holiday cookies via email in Nov and Dec. We knew her and this was BtoC marketing at its best!
Recently I switched gears and started working with a global manufacturer of scientific instruments. Their BtoB products are sold to a variety of industries including Food, Pharma, Clinical Labs, and Environmental. Their products enable a beverage maker to know the alcohol percentage in their beer. They help University labs do clinical research on Ebola. They also enable environmental firms to test for pesticides in water. Given the depth and breadth of their product offerings, they were in need of driving product awareness across all of these industries. When working with them on a paid media program, we found ourselves asking the following questions: Who is our customer and how best do we reach them? Are they researching the latest scientific instruments online? What kind of content would get them excited about coming to our website? Do they attend trade shows for the latest industry research or do they search for it online? After working with them for only 4 months, we know so far that our target consumer is a scientist who searches on Google for industry related research (can you say metabolomics analysis?) and new instruments via both their mobile phone and desktop!
When comparing these two clients, with one we were doing BtoC marketing and the other we were doing BtoB. But were we really? For years we’ve been separating BtoC and BtoB, as if they represent different beings. So what really is the difference between BtoC and BtoB marketing? At the end of the day, aren’t we simply marketing to humans? After all, a human is making the decision on whether or not they like your sugar cookie recipe and want to view it on your website. And a human is using Google to search for the latest research on pesticide analysis and deciding whether your company is an authority on the latest technological innovations in chromatography.
The first company I ever worked for was a Fortune 10 CPG company with the most recognizable consumer logo in the world- Marlboro. Philip Morris taught us to ‘Think Like a Consumer” when marketing Marlboro. Whether we’re moms looking for that cake recipe online or we’re scientists looking for the latest research, we’re all consumers. We decide where and how we consume content. So maybe we need to stop thinking BtoC or BtoB, and instead think Human to Human. Or better yet, Think Like a Human!