In previous posts, we have looked at the differences between marketing to a business to business and retail audience. Historically, the b2b market has relied on word of mouth from the point of company formation. Ultimately, these chains of supply can be translated into marketing terms as ‘social networks’. The long established methods of b2b communication may seem like a long way away from the latest craze to hit online marketing and yet both forms of communication are based on the same principles – personal relationships, recommendation and opinion.
This theory is confirmed by the results of a recent survey, which found that over 60% of business professionals were driven to purchase by a colleagues’ recommendation or friends’ opinion. A b2b consumer is often looking to spend a large amount of income, therefore, it makes sense that they would prefer to buy from a company that has been recommended, than from one with a flashy marketing campaign and a lot of un-tested promises. Karen Philips, managing director at market research firm e-marketing, suggests that Social Media is perfectly poised to take this form of ‘word of mouth’ business communication to the next level in the b2b sector.
Though we have previously stated that it is an ill informed marketeer that communicates with the b2b market and retail sector in the same way. Recent studies have revealed that consumer behaviour between the two demographics is becoming increasingly similar and that while the gap between professional and personal purchasing remains, it is becoming smaller. Historically, these two sectors and the way in which they each communicate we diametrically opposed, however, as social media site such as Face book, Twitter and Linked in are being used more and more by the professional services industry as recruitment and networking tools, it would seem that we are conducting both our professional and personal lives across the same online platforms.