The Rebirth of Cool: Lessons from B2C Marketing for B2B Brands


Technology inspires wonder. It’s become the stuff of fantasy and delight. All too often, however, B2B tech brands somehow forget this and focus their messaging almost exclusively on business results. 

Not that you should disregard outcomes or solutions, but goodness, does content really need to be such a snooze? In fact, many lists publicizing the best marketing campaigns of the year will rarely if ever contain the name of a B2B brand — tech or otherwise. So much of the marketing material coming out of the B2B space tends to be cookie-cutter variations of what’s been done for years, even for the most cutting-edge of tech brands. 

But it isn’t just the marketing that’s long overdue for inspiration. Customer experience (CX) also feels a bit of an afterthought. Few B2B brands appear to consider CX much beyond a tradeshow booth, which is probably one of the reasons why they score below 50% on customer experience index ratings, according to research from McKinsey & Co. That same research also found that 77% of buyers felt their last purchase was too difficult or complex.  

Just because interactions are business to business doesn’t mean customers expect any less in the experience with a brand. Truth be told, they may expect more. B2B tech purchases are generally much higher in costs than those in the B2C space — and that might just be where the problem resides. 


Traditionally, B2B marketing has always been more conservative due to the number of dollars involved in a single deal. Rock the boat too much and a decision maker (of which there are often many) may decide to go in a different direction, risking not only millions in business but your brand reputation in the process. With so many personalities involved, you then strike a serious tone in all interactions with a potential client. 

The issue, however, isn’t the seriousness of your marketing. The flatness of the campaign is. It’s almost as if enterprise businesses are afraid to entertain audiences. While maintaining some level of professionalism is always important, the time is now to move past such concerns. Audiences are changing — becoming more diverse, more global, and more sophisticated. The B2B customer no longer looks like the clients on Mad Men, and your messaging should reflect this. 

Consider the marketing of Apple over the years. That approach started when Steve Jobs decided to call the Mac an appliance. Like a refrigerator or washing machine, customers didn’t need to know much to use it. In a world where PC users had to memorize and type commands, Macs let people point and click — and that continues to this day throughout the tech space. Don’t let your marketing get too caught up in techno-jargon. It should be approachable.


With that in mind, begin reviewing your marketing campaigns and look for where you could infuse the wonderment tech has to offer. Look for opportunities to move away from the standard messaging and add creativity in each exchange. The following are just a few ideas to get you started: 

1. Keeping it simple. 

B2B and B2C audiences interact with content differently. Asking someone to watch an hour-long webinar or read a multipage whitepaper, even if it is informative, can be a tall order, especially in the middle of the workday. It’s better to keep content short, simple, and to the point. Get to your value proposition early, and bullet or number key points. It makes content much easier to consume for those prone to skimming, which will be most of your audience — 81% of people skim online content, in fact. A lesson, perhaps, from B2C Out of Home advertising.

2. Keeping it human. 

Remember that at the business end of your marketing are human beings, not just a business enterprise. With more than half of B2B customers having made up their minds before having the first meeting a company representative, the top of the funnel is looking more like the middle. The common denominator between both B2B and B2C marketing campaigns is people.

Perhaps no enterprise B2B company has done a better job speaking in human terms as GE. The industrial giant has for many years now developed effective, human-centric stories. Their recent video, People Who See the World Differently, beautifully illustrates how GE’s technical innovations effect everyday human moments. 

At Wipro, a company with a long history of commitment to our communities, bringing the human element to the forefront is only natural. So, when we talk about our expertise in digital transformation it’s framed in the ways in which our work creates meaningful impact in the lives of others. 

3. Making it fun. 

Though B2B audiences may not interact with content in the same way, they’re still B2C at the end of the day — and sometimes want to be entertained. Instead of sticking to the traditional tone of B2B content, which can get stale and mundane, consider throwing in some humor for your next campaign. Wit can be just as professional as earnestness when done right, and it can help your business stand out from the others in the marketplace. 

Take SpaceX, for example. While the company may develop advanced rocket technology of industrial purposes, the brand itself feels much more geared to the general consumer. It has a sense of whimsy. You need only look to its 2018 commercial to capture the essence of the brand. The company launched a Tesla Roadster (including an onboard Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference) into space inside the Falcon Heavy, an operational rocket made by the company — and the commercial became a viral sensation. 

 If you do go this route, still keep content authoritative, valuable and informational at the same time. It may also be wise to explore the human side of your operations by sharing stories about opportunities, challenges, conflicts, success and even failures. Tapping into the reader’s emotion or passion can more deeply engage the individual and help improve your conversion rates with time. 

4. Focusing on the individual. 

You may be trying to secure the business of, well, a business, but this shouldn’t take away from the fact that there’s an actual person interacting with your messaging. As you develop your marketing materials, consider the individual. This, too, can help you stand out, as many B2B brands forget this. One survey found that executives are bored with the marketing they see. If you’re able to engage B2B consumers and establish an emotional connection, it can drive 306% more lifetime value than customer satisfaction. 

More importantly, B2B brands should be enhancing the overall customer experience for their audiences. Apple understood this, choosing to move the business side of operations closer to that of its consumer brand. Every interaction is simplified and intuitive for users. IKEA took a slightly different approach, leaning more so on the customer service aspect. B2B customers can chat with design professionals, access tools to find office solutions, and receive personalized recommendations from a support team. 

Marketing is all about understanding your audience. Just because someone sits behind a desk for the majority of the day doesn’t mean their story ends there. Get to know the individuals making the decisions, tell them why your brand would be of value in their lives, and never forget to add joy to your messaging. Selling is only part of the equation. Making a connection — and a real one, at that — can provide returns for years to come. 

This article first appeared in

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