A Weapon of Mass Consumption?

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B2C is the new B2B!

I have never pigeon holed myself when it comes to marketing. People have often asked me whether I specialise in any particular area or sector and the answer is no; I would say my main area of work is copy writing and digital content management but actually I’m a marketing ho that offers pretty much most services to anyone who wants them (strictly in terms of marketing you understand!). That said, while I have clients across many sectors and offer a range of services, most of my work has historically been within B2B – business to business. It was never particularly my mission to take this direction but with a lot of experience in this field, both prior to starting my business and for the last 5 years within it, this is naturally what has come my way.

I have always considered B2B marketing to be more ‘controllable’; markets are more easily defined which makes targeting your audience more focused in terms of both channels and message. My perception of B2C, business to consumer, has always been that the audience is a bit more vague and harder to reach unless you have the budgets for TV, radio and billboard advertising, which my clients generally speaking do not!

Targeting a Digital Audience

That’s not really the case any more. A few years ago you had to work hard to get useful data from people. We used demographic segmentation methods; defining people as ABC1, DINKies and different ACORN classifications based on data obtained through market research, census information and the electoral roll. Data that wasn’t always reliable or meaningful and was often quite out of date as soon as it was collated and analysed. These days things are very different: we don’t even call it market research now, the new marketing buzz word being ‘insight’! Where once it took a lot of time, effort and expense to gather demographic data, data that many people were often reluctant to divulge, we can now not only access it very easily but people actively volunteer it!

“I’ll tell you everything you want to know…”

So “what’s the difference?” you may ask. Do people suddenly love marketers and want to give us all their personal information? Sadly not, us marketers are still a much maligned profession to many (all together now, awwww…) and yet they love to tell us personal details such as gender, age, profession, location, hobbies, interests, family details, likes, dislikes and religion – it’s a market researcher’s (sorry, Insight Analyst’s) dream. The vehicle of course is social media.

While most of us wouldn’t dream of giving such personal information away easily, we barely give a second thought to divulging it on Facebook, Google + or Twitter. We include it in our profiles, our status updates, the ‘likes’ and comments we dish out and the apps and games that we download. While we might be smugly confident in our privacy settings, this information all feeds into the ‘machine behind the scenes’ and allows advertisers to target us us very specifically based on the demographics we willingly hand over. Have you ever wondered why the ads that appear on Facebook are remarkably relevant to you? Have you ever thought to question why the sites you visit often show you tantilising products similar to those you’ve bought, or even just viewed, before? Perhaps you’ve even been spooked by products that you’ve been looking at on one site popping up on completely different websites? It’s all to do with the information you’ve submitted and the cookies you’ve agreed to use (ICO regulations state that all websites using cookies need to make users aware of them and give their consent to them – usually granted by continuing to use the site).

Small Businesses Take Advantage

A fan of trashy thrillers I recently read a line in a Lee Child book about how, had the government insisted that all citizens be tracked by an electronic device, there would have been an outcry and yet everyone voluntarily consented to it by getting a mobile phone which could potentially be used for this purpose by the authorities. The concept is very much reminscent of this situation don’t you think? Whatever your opinion is of the moral implications about the use of such data (remember, this information is offered willingly), the fact is that it makes B2C marketing much more accurate and therefore less prone to wastage which in turn reduces cost. Lower costs make it more accessible to smaller businesses so you don’t need to advertise to the masses to achieve brand awareness amongst your target market.

Having built a career on the B2B market I now find myself taking on increasingly more B2C clients. I am currently working with a kitchen company and a singles socialising network and anticipate that social media will factor very significantly in the marketing strategies we put in place – after all who needs Jedi mind tricks when you have Facebook Insights?!

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