In our 15+ years in business, we’ve worked with a variety of organizations ranging from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Some of our clients operate in the B2C space (business to consumer) and others are in the B2B arena (business to business).
When I give keynote presenations or when I first speak with clients, I often get asked, “If you work with B2C companies, how can you understand the B2B space?” or vice-versa. There is a (false) assumption that the difference between B2B business and B2C business marketing is so radically different that you cannot operate in both spaces. Sure, there are differences between the two, but not as many as most people think.
My answer to the question is pretty simple. We focus on what we call principle-based marketing.
My friend Mark Schaefer likes to say business isn’t B2B or B2C, it’s P2P. This means person to person. Principle-based marketing means you do the following:
- Focus on being a great teacher
- Listen to your customers and prospects
- Communicate clearly and regularly
Let’s dig into each of these a little bit more.
1. FOCUS ON BEING A GREAT TEACHER: You focus on being the best teacher you can be. The best teachers don’t sell, they help. We need to keep this in mind, as well. Your blog and digital marketing shouldn’t be focused first on selling. Instead, it’s about helping.
No one ever said, “Gee, I could really use some advertisements in my life right now.” What they say instead is, “Gee, I could really use an answer to my question now.”
Do you see the difference? People want help; they don’t want someone to sell them something.
So create content that helps your customers and prospects get educated. The more they see you as a teacher, the higher the likelihood that they will want to do business with you.
2. LISTEN: As the saying goes, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should listen twice as much as you talk.”
Are you really listening to and hearing the questions and needs your customers have? Do you truly understand their problems, their pain points, their wants, and their needs?
Truth be told, most companies stink at listening. They want to talk about themselves, about how awesome they are or how unawesome their competitors are. Do NOT do this! This will turn people off and away.
Think about going on a date with someone who only talks about themselves and never asks you a question, or worse, asks you a question but doesn’t listen to your answer. How do you like hanging around that person? The honest answer is you don’t like hanging around them.
Who do you prefer to hang around? People who listen and have a dialogue with you.
So what do you do if you don’t feel like you are good at listening? How can you get better at understanding your customers’ wants and needs more?
You can do many things. First, simply talk to customers and prospects. Ask them questions and then LISTEN to their answers. Or, listen to the questions they ask you about your industry.
You can also ask any staff that interacts with your customers to share every question they get asked about your industry, your products, and your services. And with social media so readily available, there is no excuse to NOT know your customer. You can do simple searches to discover and profile your customers and their needs.
3. COMMUNICATE: Now all you have to do is share your knowledge. Again, this is where content comes in. I’m a big fan of digital tools because people, regardless of industry, spend so much time online. You can produce written content, video content, audio content, and ebooks that you and your sales staff can share with customers and prospects. The options are literally endless.
Create a list of your top customers and ask yourself “Can we listen to them more effectively and be better teachers?” If the answer is “yes” then list out the steps you are doing to be a better listener and teacher.