Marketing can be broken into two basic categories, B2B and B2C. B2B marketing deals with marketing to businesses and B2C marketing is about marketing to consumers. While many marketing techniques and strategies overlap, most marketers will tell you that the decision process for the buyer greatly differs between businesses and individual consumers. Businesses need to be mindful of their bottom line and they generally respond better to messaging that commutes value. Consumers are different breed, though. Their purchasing decisions lay more in the realm of their emotions leading marketer to pursue strategies that invoke an emotional response. In this blog post, we will explore more about why consumers buy, the importance of the digital channel, and the value in cause marketing.
If you are new to the marketing game, consider taking this class on marketing strategy. It will give you a good background before you dive into the specifics of consumer marketing.
Why Do People Buy?
People do not buy what you do or how you do it, they buy WHY you do it. While Simon Sinek’s TED Talk focuses on leadership, this idea holds true to marketing too. In his talk, he uses technology giant Apple as an example. Why is Apple known for innovation and exceptional products among consumers? Why is their brand image so strong? The reason is because they know how to talk to consumers.
In their marketing campaigns, Apple doesn’t say “We have superior products made with superior methods”. Apple isn’t even trying to impress people with their product features. Instead, they go right for your emotional gut. They say,
“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
Apple inspires consumers to buy their products because they identify with who Apple is as a company. Apple communicates the idea of being different and an innovation leader, something that their customers want to be too.
How has the Digital World Affected Buying Decisions?
Marketers targeting consumers are facing the digital channel in full force. Even if companies are not selling through digital channels, they still have to be mindful of what information is available to consumers online.
According to recent data, 33% of adults ages 18 to 39 use the internet first when looking for information on local businesses. This is huge but what does it mean for businesses? In short, businesses must be present and understand how consumers are using technology. For example, did you know that 53% of Americans own a smartphone and that 15.1% of ecommerce sales in 2012 were made on a mobile device? With this in mind, marketers need to prepare mobile strategies and understand the significance of location-based marketing.
Many SEO enthusiasts will push the “Content is King” strategy. While people can get caught up in the content game, the underlying belief is that companies need to be more consultative with their potential customers. Through building trusted relationships based on the exchange of knowledge for free, companies can increase their conversion rates.
So, before you go crazy on a company blog or spend way too much for a simple infographic, ask yourself what value or benefit you can give to consumers. Successful marketing is not about marketing “gurus” or “ninjas”, big expensive gestures, or flashy tricks. While those things might attract attention, they are not attracting the attention you need to make sales. Marketing to consumers is about creating an authentic connection and meeting people on their level. The digital channel allows marketers to do just that; meet people on their level.
Do Consumers Care about Social Good?
Yes! As it turns out consumers care a lot about social good especially when it aligns with their personal values and does not limit their purchasing decisions. The number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87%. Let’s look at a well known and established cause marketing campaign.
Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives
Yoplait’s well known campaign to donate money for each saved yogurt lid started as a grassroots movement more than 15 years ago by an employee who lost a family member. The idea is simple, customers save and mail in sticky yogurt lids. For each lid received, General Mills donates 10 cents to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. To date Yoplait has contributed more than 37 million dollars through their pink lids. Cheryl Welch the Integrated Communications Director at General Mills said that this program has a definite impact on customer engagement and loyalty.
Cause marketing should not be used as a gimmick to earn brand loyalty. In order to be successful, businesses need to choose a related cause and have employee support. The campaign also needs to be about more than just money. While contributing funds to a cause is helpful, you also need to provide opportunities for your customers to be involved. Try sponsoring an event or creating some swag for customers to wear. Think of the Livestrong wristbands to support cancer research. A simple rubber wristband became a statement for people about their beliefs and what they supported.
Marketers know that there is a distinct difference between the communication needed to engage consumers versus businesses. Consumers are emotionally driven in decision making and look to companies (brands) to be an extension of themselves. More and more, consumers are moving toward the digital realm even if they are buying in physical locations. Marketers need to be aware of the importance of digital channels not only for selling but also for research and information gathering. In addition, companies that provide opportunities for customers to take part in and rally behind something they believe in have a greater chance of building and maintaining lasting brand loyalty.