B2C Marketing strategies, by their nature must be somewhat different to B2B. Whilst some may see marketing as all merely ‘selling’ and thus see no differentiation in messages to an end consumer (as in business to consumer or B2C) or a business buyer (as in business to business or B2B).
Marketing to both types of buyers is a complex but logical process. For both business to business and business to consumer, the basics of marketing strategy (the Four Ps- Product, Price, Place & Promotion) delivery remains the same. The following points identify the B2C focus for marketing strategies:
Step 1-Marketing the Product or Service (or maybe even going back to identify the need and then developing the product) to fulfil a need or fix a problem that already exists for consumers. B2C is product driven, so spend the time here to not try and sell something you love to sell, but something that will actually solve a consumer problem. B2C has a very large target market potential, so creating a niche for your product can make it simpler to focus on specific features which differentiate you from the competition
Step 2-Identifying the appropriate Pricing for your product. B2C often work well with a discount structure, consumers thrive on feeling like they are getting a ‘bargain’, so coupons or two-for-one offers could work well if your product fits that genre. Conversely, should your product be one addressing status (eg designer jewellery or an upmarket home decor), then maintaining prices constantly may be one way to keep the perception of quality and prestige. One example is authentic Swarovski Crystal ornaments and jewellery, in every Swarovski store all around the world, every product is full priced and similarly priced (apart from some minor exchange rate fluctuations), they don’t do discounting. This product has maintained it’s prestige for almost a century and is still aspirational and seen on film stars and heiresses.
Step 3 – Create a distribution channel or Place strategy which best meets the consumer needs balanced with optimum cost structures for your business. This step is sometimes overlooked with the view of getting a product into as many outlets as possible. A recent example of issues with Place can be seen in the collapse of Australian Chocolate manufacturer Darrell Lea, their strategy of distributing a diverse range of chocolates to a huge geographic region to outlets such as newsagents and pharmacies created expensive distribution networks which contributed to it’s demise.
Step 4- Develop a Promotion Strategy (often this is the only ‘marketing’ that many people think of) – this strategy involves a combination of the following marketing activities:
- Advertising– Important for brand building especially in the B2C market. Regular reinforcement is the key with repetition and imagery which clearly stands for your brand’s look & feel.
- Public Relations will help reduce ‘buyers remorse’ after customers have spent with you, good PR ensures their positive feelings for your product are reinforced in a way that appears impartial (eg positive news items in print media)
- Events can be a bonus to creating the emotional attachment to your product and brand. Emotion, or lack of, carries a large amount of weight when it involves spending money. In the B2B world, there is less emotion attached to purchases than in the B2C transaction. Events can bring your customers into your ‘family’ and encourage brand loyalty and security when spending money.
- Direct Marketing- This method of marketing messages is well suited to B2C. in B2C, you know exactly who is making the buying decision and when you have a database of (generally) self selected customers, sending them direct marketing material is personal, relationship building and develops trust. In contrast, Business to Business (B2B) very often involves determining firstly who is the actual decision maker you want to influence before you can even begin thinking of a direct marketing concept.
- Social Media– brand loyalty is extremely important for B2C, this with great customer service will keep them coming back. Social media can create the right environment for dialogue between customers themselves and the business to develop extreme brand loyalty.
- Internet Marketing facilitates the most extreme short sales cycle which is a hallmark of B2C. A great website, well described product portal and a simple, safe checkout all aid B2C sales.
- Word of mouth- the single most influential aid to a buying decision and it is so, because of TRUST. Personal recommendation already has the trust factor in abundance, the buyer doesn’t have to assess the validity of the communicator which they have to do with all the other marketing mediums. They can ‘cut to the chase’ and determine if the product is for them.
- Affiliate Marketing and Alliances can activate the trust factor again. Even though they will not carry as much weight as the personal recommendation, if your product is affiliated with another brand which already has a strong following, yours will gain some of that trust by association and reduce the purchase risk.
- Promotion- This is essentially all the other marketing activities you do which don’t fall under the previous specifics. If you hand out sunscreen at a beach volley ball competition (which you didn’t organise) and you are promoting a local skin clinic, this will be a great brand builder.
By addressing the 4 Ps and keeping your branding message consistent across all channels, you will create a B2C Marketing Strategy which will grow your sales the best way possible. Just remember the messages need to be regular, consistent and with a meaningful call to action.