Not long ago there was a media drumbeat of “B2C and B2B marketing techniques are merging.” Or you might have read that “B2B and B2C are passé, marketing today has to be P2P” (person to person). This all made a certain kind of sense, as marketers of every stripe were heavily focused on lead generation. And lead generation is very dependent on brand awareness, so the strategies and tactics did look very similar for B2B and B2C. In fact, many were exactly the same.
That’s changing. You might even say we’re putting the “B” back in B2B. Here’s why:
Today’s B2B marketers have to move beyond the lead generation role of simply filling the sales funnel with individual, named leads. That’s a reasonable priority for consumer marketing; you just need one decision-maker to sell a hat, or shampoo, or organic beer. But once you get past attracting curious or motivated individuals to your brand, this buying road forks, with a deep divide between B2C and B2B.
B2B sales reps don’t close deals with people; they close accounts. B2B companies don’t bank cash from private citizens, but from companies. B2B churn refers not to lost individuals, but to lost customer accounts.
Research by CEB indicates that the average B2B decision-making group now includes 5.4 buyers, often from different departments and with unique concerns. That means that B2B marketers have to nurture their individual leads within a broad matrix of contacts inside a target account. When marketers understand how their product helps each of these stakeholders, they can build a strategic and integrated program that engages each one, on their own terms, through a lifetime of value.
This holistic perspective has fueled the resurgence of account-based marketing (ABM), an approach in which marketing works closely with sales to manage the complex process of targeting and nurturing companies, rather than lone prospects. It’s not a forsaking of traditional lead generation, but rather an expansion of it.
“B2B marketers have realized the limitations of traditional demand generation programs and measurements and instead are rapidly embracing the power of ABM,” said Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at Demandbase.