Selling P2P versus B2B or B2C

Mobile computing and B2B, B2C marketingSelling P2P versus B2B or B2C.  What?

I’m not a fan of acronyms, especially if I’m trying to get my point across.  Why confuse people or make them feel dumb because they don’t know what you’re talking about?

To be clear from the start, B2B means “Business to Business” and B2C means “Business to Consumer.” When someone asks what your market is, it’s usually B2B or B2C.

For example, if you’re selling office equipment, you’re B2B and if you sell mattresses, you’re B2C.  For categories like office supplies, it’s both.

I have a different outlook on finding potential clients and I call it P2P – “Person to Person.”  I think the lines are blurred for the customer, thanks to online searches and mobile computing.  The conversation with a prospective client starts online, so your website has to be a direct reflection of your voice and message.  This is why branding, website design and marketing are so crucial to the success of most companies.

When you take off your “work hat” and you’re a consumer – your desktop, smartphone or tablet is where you turn to (for the most part) to begin your search, right?  So here’s the big question, “When you put your work hat back on, do you search differently?”  Of course not.

You don’t change gears and say, “I’m at work, I have to think differently than I did five minutes ago.” In turn, you’re probably going to respond better to someone who communicates in a professional yet casual tone, versus a stiff presentation format with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality.

I think P2P has been around for years, it just hasn’t been coined as a phrase or adopted by the majority of business people.  How do I recognize a P2P marketing strategy?  It’s easy to see – they come across as “cool.”  The way they present information is clear, down to earth and speaks to you. You want their product or service, you never feel you were sold something.

Clearly, Apple is P2P.  Most tech or web-based startup companies are P2P.  Companies that use humor, emotion or sex appeal in their marketing are P2P – like Met Life with Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy as their spokespeople.  Apple and Met Life both serve the consumer and business sectors, yet choose P2P to appeal to everyone.

I don’t think that Hewlett-Packard or Canon are P2P, yet American Airlines’ new campaign certainly is. Using the voice of Jon Hamm (Mad Men) to describe business class on their new planes is equally compelling to anyone seeking comfort and serenity – whether they’re flying for business or pleasure.

P2P marketing is more conversational, not a list of features and benefits.  There’s also another distinction – the companies that embrace this have product lines that are usually top tier in price and quality.  Their success is creating a connection with their customers via the human factor pays off handsomely.

The message is clear, yet more of us need to adopt it – relate to me like a person, even if I’m the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  Your bottom line depends on it.

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