Client Motivations, Expectations & Results: Managing the B2B and B2C Client Roster

Agency principals are tasked with the growth and retention of the client roster. They deliver by fully understanding their clients’ concept and end goals, building custom strategies, guiding execution, tracking performance, and continually bringing new ideas and approaches to the table. In addition to those responsibilities, agency principals also champion lasting agency-client relationships—those that span across industries, audiences, and personalities.

For most agencies, client rosters are a mix of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations. As many agency principals acknowledge, workloads and strategies can vary drastically depending on the client; for some, B2B and B2C will never cross paths or relate.

Yet, the most successful agencies look beyond the label of “B2B” and “B2C.” These agencies have a deep understanding of C-suite and customer motivations (whether that customer is a consumer or a business). They understand the fundamental differences between working with B2B and B2C clients, and are therefore able to build upon best practices and innovate across the aisle.

If your agency is looking to master the B2B and B2C client roster, understanding the motivations of the C-suite and/or the company overall—from both perspectives—is paramount. From brand presence to performance metrics, your approach will vary. This white paper discusses fundamental differences between the traditional B2B and B2C clients, and outlines how key performance indicators (KPIs) guide best practices for connecting goals, strategy, and client relationships on a deeper and more integrated level.

Your Approach Starts with Why

To fully understand end goals of B2B and B2C clients and their audiences, agencies have to dig deep into underlying motivations.

Ask:

  • What are the drivers for clients that seek our agency’s support?

  • What made our agency appeal to the client?

  • How does my client communicate?

  • What is being reported about my client’s industry, and where does my client fit into the conversation?

  • Are the agency’s goals and communication style in line with the client’s business goals?

At the end of the day, a full understanding of what the C-suite— and the company overall—really wants to achieve (and why) will determine your end goal, inform how to best deliver on that expectation, and establish the difference between simply meeting on a client objective or really wowing that client.

For example, if your client speaks a performance-driven language, deliver weekly reports to track KPIs or goal progress. Use results from analytics platforms and monitoring services to shape your reports, and offer your clients a transparent view of overall campaign performance and ROI.

On the other hand, if your client wants big ideas, your team better keep pace bringing the latest articles, trends, and creative briefs. Set up continual monitoring to track what’s being reported in your client’s industry, and use this information to shape strategies on how your client can join the conversation. One of the critical advantages of brand and industry monitoring, especially for B2B, is to uncover new sales opportunities as well as trending problems or issues that can serve as a basis for either a new content offering or targeted demand generation campaign. Flex your social IQ, taking pulse on the company as well as personal levels to ensure your strategies resonate with your client, regardless of B2B or B2C.

With Overarching Goals in Mind, Build on Established Best Practices

Chances are, your client roster played a part in a new client’s interest in working with you. Agencies must be able to demonstrate that they understand the differences between the B2B and B2C approach, and can showcase expertise in related methodologies or vertical markets. Part of that expertise comes through extensive research, knowledge of a particular industry, and proven results.

To identify your client’s (or prospective client’s) voice in their space, agencies need to know what is already being said about the client, their competitors, the industry, new innovations, and notable market changes. A robust media database and monitoring service accurately identifies this information across B2B and B2C channels—helping agencies build better messaging strategies, establish relationships with key media contacts, research relevant publications, and determine ROI of their efforts.

Bottom line:Clients expect agencies to deliver on tried-andtrue strategies, while also stepping out of the box with new and innovative ideas.

Build on agency strengths and best practices to win, retain, and grow a strong client services arm of your agency’s business. This goal starts with knowing some key differences between B2B and B2C customers.

A B2B vs. B2C Crash Course

So far we’ve discussed many of the high-level motivators and similarities that transcend a B2B / B2C classification. Yet, at the end of the day, your agency’s approach needs to cover the basics.

  B2B B2C

Strategy

Audience may be targeted, niche. For example: Fortune 500 IT managers using HP servers.

Appeals to involved decision-making processes across the sales cycle.

Audience is often wider, consumer friendly. For example: New moms, age 18 - 29, living in North America.

Appeals to a basic need or emotional connection.

Message & Distribution

Range from simplistic, to more detailed FAQ or content that highlights the problems these solutions work to solve. Often uses technical language to relay benefits.

Channels include industry trades, forums, mainstream business news, press release services and more.

Ranges from evoking emotional or logical responses. Often attention-grabbing.

Delivered via all channels: mainstream news, word-of-mouth, social, paid promotions, press releases, owned media, and more.

Measurement

Often a longer sales cycle with multiple touch-points across the decision making process.

Involves marketing-sales technology setup, lead attribution reporting and media monitoring. Attribution of net new leads to PR efforts is increasingly important, and is vital for early stage reporting since actual sales cycles and contribution to revenue take much longer to calculate than in B2C.

Quicker sales cycle, may be more focused on ecommerce optimization and customer service.

Involves a range of social, digital and in-person, customer-centric metrics.

Involvement

Heavy up-front investment to understand intricacies of the industry and set up measurement technology throughout a typically longer sales cycle.

May require heavy collateral and technology alignment; hours may vary and go outside the 9-5 with consumer promos (and management) happening in real time.

STRATEGY

Often, B2B purchases are more detailed and complex for the decision-maker, affect business processes, and may impact multiple stakeholders.

But in both B2B and B2C cases, the key is capturing customer attention. In the B2B case, you want to capture that attention and build trust by understanding key drivers, providing valuable (and relevant) information, then eventually integrating with sales and service efforts further in the sales cycle. Remember, the B2B decision-maker audience is often an expert in their field. For B2C scenarios, marketers vie for attention that can elicit an emotional response and more immediate purchase.

BRAND PRESENCE AND MESSAGING

Understanding your brand’s presence and reputation also introduces different challenges between the two, as the channels that are important between B2B and B2C are often very different. PR programs, advertising, and brand monitoring may be viewed differently between B2B and B2C. For instance, B2C is often focused on breadth of reach, while B2B focuses on the depth of the message that reaches a specific audience.

MEASUREMENT

Bottom-line revenue growth, ROI, or increased conversion rates are top priority across the client roster. According to a recent Salesforce survey of 900+ senior-level marketers2, metrics “aren’t one-size-fits-all” for B2B and B2C teams. According to the survey:

  • B2B marketers are focused on lead gen metrics. They aim to tie marketing activity directly to the lead / sales pipeline, measuring both quality and quantity of leads directly attributed to marketing efforts.

  • B2C teams are focused on customer experience. Customer satisfaction (CSAT), retention and lifetime value (LTV) top the list of priority KPIs.

In a nutshell, we’ve also found that B2C clients want breadth and reach. They want to target as many eyes as possible, then as many customer metrics as possible. Yet while impressions, ad-equivalency, and placements through comprehensive media monitoring might be enough for B2C, B2B has grown to expect more by way of tying marketing efforts to revenue.

Tip: Across client practices, ask what success looks like. From there, it will be easier to categorize primary and supporting KPIs.

AGENCY INVOLVEMENT

Finally, understand the differences in client deliverables and expectations across B2B and B2C practices. Ensure B2C teams are staffed with a few additional creatives, and B2B teams have the marketing technology necessary to tie efforts to outcomes along a lengthened sales cycle. Both teams should continuously collaborate to bring fresh, new ideas to their clients.

If your agency is looking to master the B2B and B2C client roster, understanding the motivations of the C-suite and/or the company overall—from both perspectives—is paramount.

A full understanding of what the C-Suite—and the company overall— really wants to achieve (and why) will determine your end goal.

“You and your company are always exposed, always vulnerable. Depending on your perspective, this can be intimidating or empowering. Information is at our fingertips. What we discover online about people and businesses directly affects the decisions we make as professionals and consumers.”1

– Paul Roetzer

The Marketing Performance Blueprint

Understanding your brand’s presence and reputation also introduces different challenges between the two, as the channels that are important between B2B and B2C are often very different.

“The future belongs to dynamic agencies with more efficient management systems, integrated services, versatile talent, value-based pricing models, a love for data, and a commitment to producing measurable results.”

– Paul Roetzer

The Marketing Performance Blueprint

B2B & B2C: Working in the Gray

With basic fundamentals understood, B2B and B2C marketing can learn a lot from one another—especially in terms of capturing customer attention, delivering on client expectations, and tracking performance throughout a customer’s lifecycle.

While there are best practices for both tracks, to assume an absolute track is folly. Those who are most impactful see the black, see the white, and operate in the gray.

In other words, when we’re in tune with client goals and motivations, and pair this with a demonstrated understanding of B2B and B2C best practices, we can realize that there’s often more than one absolute way to achieve each client’s end goal.

PR NEWSWIRE SOLUTIONS

PR Newswire’s portfolio of services and solutions helps communicators of all stripes achieve their communications goals—from building awareness with new audiences and gaining media pickup, to managing reputation and inspiring investor confidence—by sharing, targeting, tracking and enhancing your unique content to make the most of your content investment. Our offerings include:

  • Content Distribution—Share and target your message via our unrivaled, trusted distribution network and make it more discoverable to new audiences.

RESOURCES

1. The Marketing Performance Blueprint https://performance.pr2020.com/

2. Salesforce Blog, “How Senior-Level Marketers Are Measuring Success” https://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2014/12/how-senior-level-marketers-are-measuring-success-12122014.html