There is a basic difference between B2B and B2C companies when it comes to many of their marketing and sales activities. Brand advocacy is not any different and thus there is a difference between B2B advocate marketing and B2C advocate marketing. But at the same time, they strive for the same goal and that is to influence people to bring more and more sales. Thus, some lines, colors, and hues will be there in the both the paintings of B2C and B2B advocate marketing.
Whether we’re discussing the similarities or the differences between the two, it helps to start with a definition. Both B2C and B2B advocate marketing can be said to be:
The practice of pinpointing, targeting, and activating your most vocal customers to market on behalf of your brand by referring friends or colleagues, writing reviews, connecting with you on social media, and so on.
A) Communication: As there is a fundamental difference in the people that B2B and B2C marketing target, the way they communicate also has to be different. B2C communication can me more fun-oriented and aspiration arousing. Spicy taglines laced with slang may work here. But that’s not so much the case with B2B advocates. They have to look and sound like knowledgable professionals.
More than being entertaining or enthralling, they have to be able to articulate the benefits of your products in a scholarly and factual way. B2B advocate marketing messages should be backed up by a strong platform of common sense and logic. The reason is, at the end of the day, you are pitching your product to business people who are very well acquainted with all the marketing and psychological ploys that your advocate might be using. So, it’s very difficult to win their hearts based on pure emotional or psychological tactics. They need facts!
B) Content Strategy: Virality of content is the keystone to a B2C advocate content strategy. To be sharable is the prerequisite for B2C content advocacy success. Thus, blogs and social media accounts are vital tools for a B2C brand advocate. By adding share buttons on your blog, you will enable your readers to share your content across social channels with a single click. Of course, the option of visual content is also open.
With B2B advocate marketing, as we have discussed, content has to be somewhere on the level of thought leadership, coupled with a complete explanation of the product functionality and benefits, proofs of its success to appeal to the rationality of the decision maker and so on. And thus more than blogs, other content forms like white papers, case studies, one-pagers, e-books or infographics might work better for the B2B brand advocate. The likelihood of B2C advocates sharing case studies or white papers about anything but extremely expensive purchases is low.
C) Number Of People To Convince: As the only entity that B2C brand advocacy understands is the single and isolated customer, it has to deal with a single decision maker. Even though people take advice from many people while buying a car or selecting a foreign trip location, the decision-making powers solely lie with them. In short, as a B2C advocate, you will have to convince only a single person per buying decision.
But with B2B, there’s rarely an individual buyer. On average, the corporate decision-making group involves 5.4 people. The number of people may increase if the deal is costly and a lot is at stake. It simply means you have to answer to more people and you have to convince more people for a single purchase decision. No wonder then that B2B has a lengthy buying process as it generally takes a time to reach some consensus when the decision-making unit is large.
Every business activity intended to reach people is incomplete without social media. It’s more than true irrespective of whether you’re doing B2C or B2B advocate marketing because your target customers are there on the multiple platforms of social media. But as every platform has a different purpose and usability, it’s important to understand which platform is more natural for which sort of advocacy.
For B2C, Facebook has been a staple due to its enormous reach and effect. But with the growing importance of the visual content, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube are also becoming favorite destinations of B2C advocates. The reason is simple…the very nature of these platforms is like a digital hangout where you can speak whatever comes to your mind. It’s a way to display your personal feelings and thoughts.
For B2B, LinkedIn still remains the most important. As it was created as a professional network where professionals from every sector can communicate, it’s obvious that B2B advocates should use it as much as possible. Many important people from the business world have their presence on LinkedIn. You can tap them. Besides, discussion groups, in particular, should be leveraged as much as possible for not only engagement but content distribution. Believe me…understanding the platform and its behavior have paramount importance. It’s unlikely that the CEO or MD will talk about your software solutions on Facebook. For him or her, LinkedIn is better suited. It may make or break your advocacy game!
E) Different Challenges: Both B2C and B2B advocate marketing have to face different challenges. In B2C advocacy, you have to create a pitch which is full of personalization with the undertone of why the product, which you are recommending, can make a little or big change in the lives of your target customers. Similarly, the scale of B2C is huge. Just imagine how many coffees Starbucks must have sold in the last year. You will have to reach and convince most of them either to come back again or refer their friends. Naturally, it has to have quality monitoring.
The biggest challenge for a B2B advocate is that each company has a different buying process. Buying is never an impulsive decision in B2B purchasing. And thus each company follows certain steps before they decide anything on the final purchase decision. You will have to understand their process. You will have to mold yourself to see where you can fit in their things of schemes along with interacting with the right prospect at the right time. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
To Conclude… Indeed, even though the basic concept of advocacy remains same in B2B and B2C setups, there are some obvious differences. And those differences primarily stem from the difference in the target customers. But few things remain same- need to communicate powerfully and effectively with the customers naturally pops up in the mind in that context. Because whether its B2C or B2B, ultimately it’s B2P, i.e. business to people!
Note: To run a successful advocate strategy, you need have advocates first. Go through our white paper, “21 Ways to Turn Your Customers into Advocates” to discover how to convert your loyal customers into advocates. For a bigger-picture approach, check out “Advocate Loyalty: A Four-Point Strategy!”