Don’t Judge a Company by its Cover: H2H Marketing and What it Means for Your Brand
With a name that sounds more like some bizarre molecular formula than a corporate marketing strategy, H2H is an emerging concept that seems to be taking the industry by storm, simultaneously questioning the long-accepted dichotomy between B2B and B2C communications.
Although at surface level the differences between the B2B and B2C buying journeys seem irreconcilable, what many marketers are beginning to acknowledge now is the shared nexus between these two spheres – namely the connection between human to human. Consider this: the power of human emotion may actually be the strongest weapon in the marketing arsenal. It doesn’t take more than a look at the onslaught of competition in a fragmented marketplace to realize the importance of slicing through the noise with a brand that is not only meaningful, but also memorable. As Beth Comstock, CMO of General Electric says, ‘good marketing is the same at the end of the day – we’re all about people. B2B does not mean boring to boring.’
When it comes to sales, studies show that ‘having consumer relevance gives B2B brands a 10% increased chance of being in a business decision-maker’s consideration set.'1 This number only stands to grow as self-guided internet research continues to exert a prodigious amount of influence on the final buying decision. In addition, a recent report by Google measured that 60% of B2B buyers go to social communities to find out what they need to know about business products.2 Whether engaging a consumer in their personal or professional space, the ultimate objective behind any communications strategy needs to be the evocation of a trusting relationship.
This concept of brand humanization is particularly important for firms in the financial services industry, for whom the rebuilding of trust in a post-recession era has become vital to their business strategy. As consultants in this space, we’ve seen several examples of firms pushing the envelope and contending with notoriously difficult regulatory obstacles in order to bring Wall Street to the Main Street, and an impactful approach to audience engagement.
American Express’s Open Forum is one such example. Harnessing the power to spark great discussions, AMEX created a digital platform filled with insights from top industry experts as an open environment for small business owners to share their industry knowledge and experience. Boasting an intuitive user interface akin to Mashable or Digiday and even a social networking platform (Connectodox), this initiative led to explosive engagement levels for American Express and is a clear testament of their willingness to take risks and eschew conventional marketing doctrines along the way.3
As a preeminent titan of the financial services industry, BlackRock is another great example of a "B2B" organization operating within a tightly regulated space that has been successful in crafting a relevant and valuable brand story. Beyond delivering great financial advice to their investors, BlackRock’s visually compelling campaigns provoke their audience to rethink traditional views towards asset management and arm them with the insights needed to navigate what they call the ‘New World of Investing.’ By imbuing their brand with an authentic purpose, BlackRock shows us how to look beyond simply achieving mindshare, to captivating it in a way that matters – inevitably forging the way for others to follow suit.
And so, as firms begin to turn their attention towards communities rather than companies, and educating rather than selling, we will undoubtedly see the emergence of the indomitable H2H organization – a brand whose inherent mission is to enhance the lives of their customers, and for whom the classification of their offering is nothing but a cover.
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