B2B Marketing In Beauty Is Changing, It’s Time To Get Creative

Traditionally, business to business (B2B) marketing has never been regarded as an inspiring or particularly creative sector. However, that is changing — and companies can no longer get away with being formulaic and boring in their B2B efforts.

Business to consumer (B2C) is the exciting side of marketing. It’s the area where brands can get creative and explore endlessly innovative ways to capture audience attention and inspire consumers to buy. B2C is flexible and constantly evolving and its output is often visually or emotionally captivating. But have you ever seen a B2B marketing campaign that makes the audience cry? Have you, as a beauty industry professional, ever felt truly excited by a B2B advert or Instagram post?

Perhaps not. Many businesses still take a corporate approach to B2B branding and offer facts, numbers and large blocks of text. However, some companies are now borrowing ideas from B2C marketing and adding more fun to their B2B efforts — with marked success.

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The art of life is to live in the present moment and to make that moment as perfect as we can. Got picture perfect by the one and only @blowoutandgo team, they truley are the best glam squad everrrrrr 😍😍😍 Lashes #samiloo @sobysamiraolfat هنر زندگی در لحظه زندگی کردن، هر لحظه رو تا اونجایی که میتونی تبدیل به بهترین کن. خوشگلای من از ثانیه به ثانیه تعطیلات عیدتون لذت ببرین، از طرف من هم شیرینی نخودچی رو ۳ تایی با چایی, تو استکان کمر باریک بخورید ….وای به به راستی مدل مژم سمیلو هست تو این عکس. Hair and makeup @blowoutandgo Photo @fishfayce Earrings @carolinesvedbom.me

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When you publish B2B marketing material it’s just as crucial to know your audience as with B2C.: Who are the people in research or buying roles in the beauty industry? What’s their background and what are they looking for? What kind of products do they want; and more importantly, where will they look for those products? What kind of B2B branding will they be drawn to?

The current, rising generation of beauty professionals has grown up online. Social media has probably always been a part of their lives. And young brands don’t have the same work culture as traditional beauty incumbents; they’re more casual, more open, and they care about the way that products and branding comes across online. They are more likely to trust a brand that they feel a personal connection with; rather than brands which portray a more distant and overly professional image.

This means that following old rules does not equal success. This is a generation that is breaking the rules and finding new ways of working — and B2B marketing campaigns need to grow with these changes, or risk gaining a reputation for being stuffy and out-of-date.

Experiences Count

In today’s market B2B customers want to try before they buy just as much as B2C customers do. This is changing core marketing practices, with experiential marketing winning out over marketing techniques that ‘tell’ a customer something without allowing them to see, touch, hear, smell or taste the product.

The marketing environment has changed so much that these experiential techniques are no longer a pleasant surprise or an ‘extra’. B2B customers expect to have some kind of experience of a product or service before they’re asked to invest in it.

Experiential marketing doesn’t necessarily have to take place in the empirical world. If it’s not possible for customers to connect with your brand in person they will look for a virtual experience. Following the lead of B2C marketing, B2B brands increasingly offer a wide range of opportunities for product experience online; mobile sites and apps, games, social campaigns, simulations and highly personal reviews are all used to create a deeper customer experience.

For example, Sephora’s Virtual Artist tool and other similar apps allow customers to try on makeup before they buy it — online, without leaving the house or actually applying a physical product. Reviews and testimonials are now an essential element of a B2B marketing strategy, whereas only a few years ago such offerings would have been unusual.

As a B2B brand, do not make the mistake of assuming that B2C activity doesn’t affect you. B2C brands can obscure your marketing strategy by taking up all the space in your customers’ minds. Sources suggest that people are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages every single day and each of as has a finite capacity for noticing and remembering those messages.

Your B2B marketing output has to make an impression on potential customers who spend hours watching online videos every week, and hours on social media each day. A study by software research company Qualtrics found that 42% of millennials don’t go more than 5 hours without accessing social media apart from when asleep. B2B researchers within beauty companies are working within a media-saturated lifestyle and working environment. Your brand messaging has to stand out.

Your Audience is Broad, So Be Creative

Your B2B audience isn’t just one kind of person — which makes marketing a complex undertaking. Assuming that a one-size-fits-all approach will be effective will significantly limit your reach and eliminate a vast number of opportunities. Social media and online marketing gives a brand the potential to reach a previously unimaginable number of potential customers, but you cannot do that if you don’t take a multi-channel creative approach.

Like any customer, B2B customers want to relate to a brand. They want to recognize their personal challenges and pain points within your brand message and see that you are offering a solution. In short, they need to see that your brand is for them.

To do this it’s important to experiment with new campaign ideas and develop new ways of connecting and sharing with customers.

B2B brands are now embracing influencer marketing, previously a strategy taken only by B2C brands. Olaplex is a hair treatment product which is sold to salons for professionals to use on their clients, as well as being sold on from salon to customer. Olaplex built a relationship with influencer Guy Tang, who promoted the product online and packed out huge in-person Olaplex ‘color education’ workshops.

Product education in general is an effective strategy for B2B beauty brands, whether an influencer is involved or not. Eideal, a premium hair product brand and distributor across the MENA region, provides product education to the salons it supplies. In an interview with digital marketing expert Richard McKeon, Eideal’s founder Haysam Eid said “it’s important for salon owners to be aware of the direction [in which] they want to drive their business — and they should always keep an eye on what’s going on in the industry.”

Eideal offers valuable support to its distributing salons by giving them that industry education, including insight into the brands and products that are currently popular among salon customers at any given time. Eid noted that his brand has “expanded…to a variety of products and we’re now the distributors of international brands like Davines and Amazon Keratin.” Teaching salons how to use those products and how to sell them establishes B2B customer trust and loyalty.

B2B Customers Have to Sell You

When marketing to B2B customers, your efforts have to enable your contacts within other businesses to sell you internally. You don’t just have to win them over — you have to teach them how to win over the decision-makers within their own company when it comes to your products or services.

Once a B2B researcher from another brand has found discovered your brand, engaged with you in some way and developed a trust in what you can offer them, the next stage of the B2B marketing process begins. That customer has to take your product to the rest of their team. The easier you can make this for them, the more likely you are to make a sale. Your marketing strategy needs to give them the information, the appeal and the flexibility to quickly convince their colleagues that your brand is a good fit.

The VP of product outreach and marketing at Distil Networks, Reid Tatoris, said “one of our biggest B2B challenges is the number of decision makers who need to weigh in on the purchase decision. You really need to be able to tell your story in several different ways to several different buyers in the prospect company.”

Antoine de Riedmatten, global sales director of perfume and cosmetics brand Eurofragrance, told Richard McKeon that it’s important not to try to appeal to everyone. Eurofragrance aims to “target a few markets, a few segments, and clients we want to work with. Find clients who believe in us.” Know your audience, understand that there are nuances and personal tastes within that audience, and creatively adapt your marketing strategy to suit them.

Connect With B2B Customers as People

It’s easy to think of a B2B customer as a business — but don’t neglect the personal connections you can make within that business.

You are selling to a person, not to a corporation. Google research shows that B2B customers are, on average, “significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.” A B2B brand can double its impact by cultivating emotional connections rather than focusing only on function and facts.

Embrace storytelling and weave the informative aspects of your marketing campaign into an engaging narrative. Remember that creative marketing is not just for B2C brands; B2B brands need to captivate and connect with their audience too. It’s connection that will cultivate long-lasting loyalty.

This article originally appeared on www.beautybusinessjournal.com