Should B2B Marketers Ignore Consumers?

Most of you reading B2B International’s blog will be marketers of b2b products and services. But how often do you think about those end consumers? They may not be able to buy your products in stores, but there is a school of thought which says that if you do market your business-to-business product or service to consumers, you could create new demand from potential business partners.

So says ‘B-to-B-to-C’, an interesting article in September 30 issue of Marketing News.

The article reminds us that behind the face of many consumer products and services, there’s a business-to-business brand that distinguishes the product from the competition. These b2b ‘ingredient’ brands all help to create the product that the end consumer is ultimately looking for. Some b2b brand managers therefore market to consumers, hoping that if end-users care about their brands, business partners will embrace them and promote them.

If this is a route you wish to go down – and there can be little doubt that this is a bold strategy to adopt – there are no hard and fast rules as to how much of your marketing budget should be allocated to the different business and consumer marketing efforts. Indeed, if not done correctly, marketing your b2b brand directly to consumers can be a very easy way to spend a lot of money with very little return.

A good starting point is – as always – thorough research. Research can demonstrate to you whether your brand possesses a distinct value and whether it could impact positively on a consumer brand’s profile and price point. If this is the case, consumer marketing may be an option for your b2b brand.

Try to convince your b2b client to promote your brand on their product: this will make your b2b ‘ingredient’ matter to consumers. Just make sure that your ingredient brand’s stand-out attribute is clearly explained to the end consumers so you can ultimately encourage them to demand products that possess your brand. To do this, its distinctiveness needs to resonate with end users, so make sure your research shows that consumers see the value of your brand. A segmentation study may, for example, determine which types of consumers would be attracted to your brand offering.

The article finishes with some words of advice for anyone doing B-to-B-to-C marketing: You need to help the consumer products brandishing your ingredient to succeed. Put simply, if they win, you win.

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