Stealing from consumer marketing

Michael Opperman

Consumer marketing will always be at the bleeding edge — the first to integrate social networks, build mobile applications and create gaming into their campaigns. Some things work, some don’t. And some are very effective for B2B sales and marketing. Fundamentally, we’re all consumers so adapting proven consumer tactics can bring new life to B2B.

Let’s start with the fun stuff. 

Engagement for sales teams


Gamification is the use of game play in non-game situations to make them more fun and engaging. Sales and employee teams love competition. Create goals and provide visual experiences that push your people to collaborate, compete and complete: leaderboards, challenge promotions, scavenger hunts, V.I.P. experiences, seamless online/offline events.

• The Social Office

Use the concept of consumer- generated content to drive collaboration and improvement. Create areas online where presentations and sales materials can be rated, reviewed and shared.

Content anywhere for customers

The “fun stuff” isn’t appropriate or effective for every setting. Emerging technology (social, mobile, gaming) done for its own sake can backfire.

One thing consumer marketers do well that applies to any scenario — including even the most conservative business environments — is distributed content strategy, or “content anywhere.”

Who is your primary audience? What information do they need from you, and where and when are they when they seek it? For example, if the decision makers are looking at product specifications over their lunch hour on a smartphone, make sure that your content is formatted for cross-platform access.

Cross-platform video. Think brief! Ensure your video content is accessible on all devices and screens, and easy to watch and understand in a few minutes someplace like an elevator — and maybe even without sound.

Consider the small screen. Hold the big graphics, keep it short. Consider click-through buttons versus text links for “thumbable” access.

Don’t trap important information in PDFs. “Downloading and reading later” really means never reading.

A hub for it all

Consumer marketers are masters of data collection and analysis. More important, they use that data to continuously refine and improve their digital marketing. This is accomplished with centralized data and integrated technology (meaning that your website talks to your CRM application and your intranet talks to your product catalog). A hub approach allows you to pilot programs, measure interaction and results, and segment your communications.

Use web analytics, such as free, easy-to-use Google Analytics, to understand what your customers are doing online and what they’re not doing.

Incrementally collect information. If a customer has provided you with contact information, don’t ask for it again. Instead get to know them one or two questions at a time.

Develop event-based e-mail triggers. For example, send out e-mails based on actions they’ve already taken, whether someone requested information, expressed interest in a product, shared an article with a colleague, or took a survey. E-mail should be tailored to customer groups and roles within the company. In consumer marketing, mothers and gamers buying the same product receive different messages. You need to know who people are and what they do to pull this off.

Always keep the goals and audience in mind when designing campaigns. Tools are only used if they are useful and useable. An iPhone app may be cool, but will that warehouse manager download and use it? QR codes may get a lot of press, but will the surgeon checking his laptop between procedures bother? So learn from the best consumer tactics, apply the most universal of them to your B2B campaigns, and avoid the mistakes of the older sibling.  

Michael Opperman is Vice President of Business Development and Client Relationship Management for Clockwork Active Media, a full-service digital agency serving B2C & B2B clients.