The ‘Enterprisification’ of Consumer: How B2C Companies Can Appeal to Businesses

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For many consumer-facing brands, succeeding today means pivoting business strategies to create additional focus on enterprise customers and partners in addition to their core consumer. Whether you’re a wellness company exploring offering workplace benefits or a credit card company looking to make inroads in the education sector, there is immense opportunity for traditionally consumer-oriented businesses to creatively expand into the enterprise.

While this may feel like a seismic shift, the reality is that these business-to-business (B2B) relationships have always quietly underpinned every company – regardless of who their audiences are – from the marketplaces they sell on to the point-of-sale systems customers pay on, and beyond. If you think having a B2B mindset isn't smart consumer marketing, you're missing the boat.

B2B sales are typically bigger income drivers than 1:1 business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. Further, it’s increasingly challenging to break through with consumers. Their spending is down with looming economic uncertainty, and their confidence is low as fears are stoked by everything from the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and ongoing supply chain shortages, to rising inflation and interest rates.

At the same time, companies are under increased pressure to do more with less. Despite budget and workforce reductions, both expectations and demands remain high to identify efficiencies and help unlock additional revenue. This presents a critical opportunity for brands to recalibrate relationships and recontextualize their value to attract business decision makers.

<split-lines>"If you think having a B2B mindset isn't smart consumer marketing, you're missing the boat."<split-lines>

Breaking Through to B2B Customers

Let’s look at Canva as an example. To increase enterprise adoption, the design platform launched a visual suite of products aimed specifically at solving workplace-specific challenges and helping businesses scale creativity organization-wide. The company remained true to its mission of empowering everyone in the world to design and also maintained its ease of use, leaning into what its consumers love about its existing products while delivering solutions to address ever-evolving market needs.

But businesses are less inclined to want to hear about this from Canva directly and are instead more likely to trust the word of their own peers, especially those in their same industry or vertical. Testimonials and referrals from well-known and well-respected enterprise customers and partners are a critical success factor when it comes to influencing B2B audiences. What really moves the needle is what ROI these companies are seeing as a result of the partnership, and what lessons they can extract from these case studies for themselves and their own brands.

Beyond ROI, business leaders are swayed by stats like internal platform data and external survey research, with the former reinforcing the company’s credibility and the latter providing third-party validation. Companies are pumping out a massive amount of data reports these days, so standing out from the crowd requires insights that are truly novel, unique and surprising – and not too self-serving. It’s imperative that the data be actionable and supplemented with advice and perspectives for the industry at large, perhaps on how to navigate timely issues and obstacles.

<split-lines>"Testimonials and referrals from well-known and well-respected enterprise customers and partners are a critical success factor when it comes to influencing B2B audiences."<split-lines>

Similarities With Other Audiences

While doubling down on B2B customers can require significant resources, B2C companies must ensure they're simultaneously progressing relationships with consumers as well. Reaching both audiences simultaneously may sound daunting but it can be done efficiently and effectively by clearly contextualizing how your products or services solve real problems for each customer segment, and ensuring messaging is aligned across all internal and external channels.

Companies must also be ready to answer “why us” and “why now” questions with clear competitive differentiation reasons to believe. The nuance lies in how to frame this with each distinct audience: consumer purchasing decisions are driven by more qualitative reasons like quality and convenience, whereas business sales are determined based on quantitative metrics like cost savings and revenue generation. That distinction informs how to best position. Regardless, framing must be authentically drawn from core company strengths and capabilities.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, we are all consumers, and there are a few core operating principles that apply to all audiences – including employees, who may be concerned about job security as they’re impacted by shifting business priorities:

  • Lead with transparency: Communicating clearly and truthfully with all stakeholders is vital to a company’s reputation. Be prepared to discuss any major strategy changes with customers, partners, employees, investors, and press, and avoid any evasion or defensiveness. Be realistic when setting goals and timelines, and acknowledge the unknown external factors that could further impact these plans.
  • Be proactive about implications: Beyond simply conveying business updates, companies will want to provide an added layer of context around what it means for each of their audiences. For employees, consider if or how their roles will change, and where/when training and collaboration might be needed. For partners and investors, discuss how any directional pivots will impact the industry at large and how this direction will impact the bottom line. For current and prospective customers, hone in on what unique value you’ll be providing to each of them (including their customers, for B2Bs).
  • Instill empathy: Above all, companies should use this moment to reinforce their commitment to their customers of all kinds. No one is immune to the turbulent macroeconomic environment we’re operating in today, so all communication (including internal) should exude humanity and understanding. This is also a chance to leverage your company’s ethos and build on existing brand affinity to position yourselves as a trustworthy partner.
<split-lines>"While doubling down on B2B customers can require significant resources, B2C companies must ensure they're simultaneously progressing relationships with consumers as well."<split-lines>

Navigating This Transformation

As they say, change is the only constant in life. Business priorities and strategies will continue to be a moving target, and that’s okay. Listening and learning is crucial, and success will require keeping your finger on the pulse of both macro world and industry trends, and more micro feedback from your customers and sales teams. This journey will take time and there will be hurdles along the way, but the good news is that you’re not alone.

At Mission North, we’re excited about the opportunities that these changes provide and are actively guiding our clients like Canva and Betterment on how to capitalize and drive results. If you and your teams are navigating similar situations and are interested in discussing how we might be able to support, please contact us here.

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