“Customer centricity” is a popular phrase many B2B marketers use to reassure themselves that they’re putting their target audience first. It’s supposed to be a way of ensuring a more positive experience with an audience that will hopefully drive more business, loyalty and profits.

But here’s the thing: while marketers – and the companies who employ them – still think of their audiences in terms of “businesses” they’re failing to focus on the most important part: the people behind them. Because as we wrote in our previous article, “businesses don’t make decisions; people do.”

The business being marketed to is not a faceless company to which you sell your product or service. It’s a key person, or key people, in that company. Often, the person running it.

B2B is DOA

Most B2B communications are dead on arrival, because they fail to enliven or connect with the people who actually receive them. Lest we forget, over 70% of global B2B customers are either “indifferent or actively disengaged with their suppliers”, according to a Gallup poll. And 86% of buyers reported seeing “little if any real difference” between B2B suppliers and “did not value the difference” enough to pay for it in a Google/CEB poll.

But, by analysing the complexity of actual B2B customer decision-making, P2P-focused companies are cultivating deep and in-depth knowledge of what their “customers” really want. They’re turning customer-centric intention into actions that delivers real value

It’s probably one of the most important, and overdue, shifts in marketing. And it’s already proving its worth. Successful “business-to-business” marketing is moving to a “people-to-people” way of thinking: B2B to P2P. A small change in terms that’s making a big change to results.

P2P-focussed companies aren’t just customer-centric, they’re people-focussed. They don’t look solely to serve the functional needs of businesses, they build meaningful relationships to understand and connect better with the real people they serve. And in doing so, they stay ahead as the wants and needs of those people change.

P2P works

BrightTalk research has shown that using a customer persona when creating a B2B email campaign can double the open rate and increase click-through by 5x.

That’s because, at the heart of P2P marketing, is the creation of a deep and real understanding of who the offer is being targeted to. It’s that old issue of knowing your audience. B2B brands have simply generalised – or worse, guessed – what they think construction professionals think of their building product or service for too long.

But those business brands that are delivering clear and tangible and targeted customer value are winning, while others are wondering where their money’s going. And this success all starts with a clearly defined understanding of the buyer persona.

Persona grata

Developing an effective buyer persona has been described as being “like putting yourself in the shoes of your highest-rated potential customers.” You essentially create a mental place-holder for real people in real situations.

Personas help companies visualize and understand the ideal customer they’re attempting to attract and allows them to relate to them in an authentic and engaging way. Only by having a deep understanding of a target audience can effective and lasting customer acquisition and retention be achieved.

Get personal, get effective

True P2P marketing is about going deeper than ever before to get closer to customers and importantly to equip the sales force to understand them better and be armed with everything need to engage on a one-to-one level.

For instance, making sure your most expensive marketing tool [your salesforce] is not only included in the marketing mix but well equipped. They need insightful and incisive info which enables them to put whatever product or service into context for the customer – especially for new product launches or new contact introductions.

Managing Director of CMDi, Dianne Lucas, says, “our long experience working within the sector shows that organisations that put their offer into the context of the customers life are the most successful. And those that equip sales people with the right messaging and tools to do that are the ones who increase share faster. Customers are simply too busy to have to think about it and work it out for themselves.”

Find out more about CMDi’s P2P strategies here >

Dianne Lucas
Managing Director