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What B2B and B2C Marketing Have In Common: A Lesson from Craft Breweries

By Kathryn Hawkins. Content Marketing
Image Credit: Allagash Brewing | CC2.0

B2B and B2C marketing strategies both rely on building trust in your brand. Here’s what B2B marketers can learn from the craft beer world.

Portland, Maine, where I live, is a rising star in the craft brewing scene. I’ve met some of those brewers, tasted their delicious wares, and talked to them about their business strategies.

How do they get curious beer-lovers to switch over from a favorite brew to test out their new IPA or session ale? It’s all about experience.

Hand out samples at a beer festival, or host a free tasting night. Pair up with a restaurant for a tap take-over to give customers a fantastic pairing experience. Set up your own tasting room in a beautiful, rustic environment with friendly servers, and maybe a sweet Black Lab curled up by the fire. A few local breweries even host weekly yoga followed by a pint of beer.

By creating a relaxed environment where customers feel comfortable and can have fun with their friends, they’ll build a positive association with your brand. So next time they hit the local grocery store, they’re not going to be too focused on whether your six pack of stout costs a dollar more than the competitor from three states away—they’ll remember a good time with good people, and will buy it in hopes of recreating that same feeling.

So what does craft beer have to do with B2B marketing?

If you’re reading this article, more than likely, you’re not selling a new IPA—you’re probably in the business of marketing an expensive, potentially complex product or solution to business buyers.

I get it. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies in the space, and understand that it’s a much harder sell to convince someone to buy a semiconductor than a pint of pale ale.

Marketing a business-to-business solution is a long, intensive process—it can frequently take months to close a deal. Often, there are numerous gatekeepers involved in the process, so it’s tough to even get the ear of the person who controls the budget.

But here’s where the tasting room analogy comes in: Selling any product—whether a craft IPA or an enterprise software solution—is about building trust in your brand.

In B2B, that doesn’t happen overnight, but you can still recreate that experience over the course of the buyer’s journey.

Here are a few ways to do it:

Be where your audience is, and entice them to visit you.

It helps to get face to face with your potential customers. In B2B, this doesn’t mean setting up a booth at a music festival, but at a trade show or industry conference. Set up a compelling display with an irresistible offer that’ll encourage prospects to pay you a visit.  For example, NewsCred (a company Eucalypt has partnered with) provides attendees with free cups of pour-over coffee from a local coffee company at Content Marketing World in exchange for filling out an email address. Your prospect gets a nice treat and a positive brand experience, and you get a new lead—it’s win-win.

Build a comfortable environment that encourages your prospects to sit back and stay awhile.

But most of your potential customers may not be on the floors of the trade shows—instead, you’ll find them on the web.

Build a welcoming virtual environment for them here with a content site that’s focused around your industry, but doesn’t push a sales message. Invite industry experts (yes, even your competitors) to share their knowledge, and create thoughtful, genuinely useful content that will help your prospective market with the questions they might have. Use your online platform to host webinars relevant to your industry. Identify and attract your ideal audience with targeted ad campaigns across the platforms they use, including CTAs in your content that lead them to a gated contact form. (And once you have that email, don’t abuse it. More on that in the next point.)

Sure, it’s not quite as cozy as a room with big armchairs and a warm fire, but by building a quality content experience that serves to inspire and educate your customers, you’ll make them feel right at home.

Pay attention to your prospects’ signals to understand how and when to contact them.

In the tasting room, your server can read your signals—she can see if you’re finishing up your drink and knows it’s a good time to ask if you’d like a refresher. When your customers are 1,000 miles away it may seem harder to read their intentions—but it’s getting a lot easier, thanks to marketing automation.

Email marketing has come a long way since the days of mass blasts. Now, it’s simple to slice-and-dice your list by segments such as location, industry, job title and more to create curated mailing lists that reflect each group’s core interests. Or go further, with behavioral tracking that sends your prospects customized messaging based on purchase history or even website visit history. If you see that a prospect who’s already opted-in to your mailing list is browsing your blog, it’s a perfect time to touch base with a message that showcases some of your higher-value content offers, and invites them to reach out for a phone call.

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling: Marketing of any kind is about creating a positive brand experience for your prospect and building trust in your company. It might take more time to get customers on board with a software solution than it does to sell them a pint, but by focusing your efforts on thoroughly understanding your customers and giving them the tools to make an informed decision, you’ll be on a winning path.

For more lessons on mastering a B2B marketing plan, check out our guide to content marketing for B2B tech.

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Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.

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