Is Marketing Personal Or Business? Can It Be Both?

bengoldmanData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Ben Goldman, vice president of digital data solutions and partnerships at Infogroup Targeting Solutions.

There has long been a divide in the school of thought between consumer and business marketing. For decades, marketers have been split between two very different camps: B2C and B2B. There was no crossover or middle ground. It was A or B.

This staunch dichotomy created a marketing environment that inadvertently assigned real people multiple personas. The separation makes sense if you only consider the product and sales cycle differences between the two.

But when you look beyond those factors and think of buyers as individuals, a different story emerges. Just because someone is at work doesn’t mean they completely disassociate from their home life. And people don’t always leave work at the office, especially now in our always-connected world where we are a click away from a work-related email.

Is it possible for marketing to bridge the gap and let go of preconceived notions?

Two Camps

Traditionally, B2B marketing focused on organizations represented by individuals spending company dollars. B2C marketing targets individuals who are buying for themselves with personal resources.

Consumer choices tend to be more spontaneous and emotionally triggered. Business purchase decisions usually have mechanisms in place to minimize the emotional component of buying decisions. Tack on the responsibility of spending corporate money and it’s a whole different ball game.

Even though there is a definite distinction between how the two investment decision types are made, there is one constant aspect: People are making the decisions, regardless of whether they are at home or at the office.

B2C marketers have always touted their advanced, innovative ways of thinking, which tends to be more progressive than B2B marketing. B2C marketers quickly delved into digital by mastering search, retargeting and programmatic display faster than many B2B marketers. But their method was flawed because it considered consumers to be one big audience. Recently B2C marketers started to focus on reaching specific people.

B2B marketers evolved from demand-generation experts who use long-form content to promote products. B2B marketers now concentrate on the customer journey. They focus on ROI and understand what is necessary to drive engagement as they move leads through the pipeline. Their tactics may not be as advanced but they have turned a common marketing tool into a strategic cornerstone.

B2B marketers have taken using data in their targeting efforts to the next level with account-based marketing, which hypertargets specific employees at specific companies that are in-market. By using data to strategically identify the right companies on specific channels, B2B marketers greatly improve their targeting. Many B2C companies are recognizing this and exploring how digital deterministic data can help them reach specific people rather than the general masses.

Combining Data Sources

People-based marketing may be considered the consumer counterpart to account-based marketing because it focuses on reaching devices and individuals rather than general audiences. Applying it across the marketing spectrum to include both B2B and B2C efforts was previously not possible.

Data is the key. The ability to recognize a person in their entirety – their professional persona in conjunction with their consumer persona – suddenly reveals the CFO responsible for making big-ticket buying decisions for a company is also the frugal dad trying to find the best vacation option for his family. Traditionally, the information to tie these disparate profiles together would not have been associated and many platforms would have considered them to be two very different people.

Combining firmographic data with demographic data offers complete insights into the work-life balance that exists within everyone. Marketers can do this in a few ways.

For example, say a marketer wants to target men who have the financial capacity and business need to purchase upscale suits. The ideal target audience may be affluent executives working in finance. To reach this audience, the agency would use its demand-side platform (DSP) to blend third-party B2B audience data, such as SIC codes for the finance and banking industries, with B2C audience data, including household income or affluence proxy. These combined segments can be created across most DSPs.

Or an electronic company may want to promote a high-ticket product during the holiday season. Realizing that parents often purchase gifts while at work, the marketer wants to display the ads for their consumer target while they are at work. The marketer could first leverage the analytic functions of its data management platform (DMP) to understand the business and consumer profile of current customers. Using the intelligence gleaned, the marketer would create the appropriate acquisition audience segment within the DMP and push it to their DSP for execution.

Looking at the tactics of people-based marketing and account-based marketing, a pattern emerges of driving engagement through proper targeting. The ability to combine B2B and B2C data to eliminate missing behaviors or attributes can help brands achieve the holy grail of marketing: to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. And that’s not just business, it’s personal.

Follow Infogroup (@Infogroup) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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  1. The expression is “wearing different hats,” because wearing different heads wouldn’t make sense, but that’s what’s going on: different mindsets. You named it: consumer choices vs. business purchase decisions. OK, you can now track people down at home and at work, but for that CFO, being pitched for a vacation trip when he’s at work might be a distraction or even an annoyance. The dichotomy makes sense and is better left alone (my opinion).

  2. While B2B marketers may be getting more sophisticated with data and techniques, it’s not the same. Until the cost of acquisition and retention comes down far enough to get me to buy one item, you’re still marketing to groups. And the ramifications of my buying the wrong kind of shaving cream isn’t the same as the wrong CRM system for work. Nope. Not the same.