It’s only 8:45am, and my inbox already has over 20 promotional emails with Black Friday in the subject line. Interestingly, as it’s my work email account, nearly 50% of them are from B2B Companies.
If we think back to why Black Friday exists, it’s traditionally the day after Thanksgiving in the US. Given that most people in The States take it as a 4 day weekend, it seems the ideal time to capitalize on (consumers) spare time. Black Friday was originally coined to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on this day - because people weren’t at work. So what better evidence is there of B2B copying B2C methods, even to the point it doesn’t really make tactical sense, given most people aren’t checking email.
However, Black Friday has since morphed into a day in which bargains are to be had, and consumer expectations have now been set in stone.
This is the main point, it is B2C consumer expectations that are dictating how B2B services are now being marketed. B2C has traditionally been far easier to do business with. The likes of Amazon have taught people that buying online should be painless. It’s taught people what good service feels like, and B2B has struggled to keep up.
Understanding Customer Expectations
There has been a great deal of talk about the Convergence of B2B and B2C, with many traditional B2B sites now offering very consumer-like experiences. It is these companies that are growing successfully. The companies that have understood customers' expectations have been set in the B2C world, and they simply expect their work life to be the same.
Consumers wouldn’t be asked to scan and email a contract, they wouldn’t expect to have to call and arrange an appointment, they wouldn’t expect to give an order over the phone... But this still happens in B2B and it’s now considered a painful experience because it's not as seamless. What consumers have come to expect is clear communication and total enablement - they have become used to feeling empowered throughout the buying process. The ‘Consumerisation of B2B’ is a very real movement, as evidenced in my inbox this morning.
We’ve all seen that H2H (Human to Human) slide that did the rounds on LinkedIn a few months back - H2H marketing was a trend that started to get decent traction in 2015. B2B vs B2C used to be approached as ‘Rational vs Emotional’. But people don’t stop being emotional at 9am when they walk into the office.
We do have to be careful though. “25% off” can sound a bit naff in B2B world, no decent business wants to train their clients that they can wait until a particular day to get money off their services, it sets the wrong expectations and it’s a race to the bottom. But we can be clever, we could lean on partners to provide a better service, offer free white papers, or increased value add. Add on features or value for no additional cost. Or if your B2B clients are B2C companies, offer them help to better equip them for the rush!
It doesn’t need to sound cheap - B2B customers are still more likely than B2C to buy on value over price, so it’s really important we don’t emulate in it’s entirety.
So while I don’t think we’ll ever see the chaos of people fighting over a Chinese branded 4K TV in Walmart, we definitely encourage B2B companies jump on the Black Friday bandwagon.