The Diminishing Returns of B2B, B2C, D2C Marketing

We all know the expression: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Vocanic and Infuse point to Tom Fishburne‘s latest cartoon, shown above to underscore this point.
According to World of DTC Marketing, while 92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations, results for Direct to Consumer (D2C) advertising aren’t good.  With marketing dollars harder to come by, continuing investment in expensive TV ads is showing alarmingly diminishing returns.
  • Less than 50% say they trust ads in traditional media outlets.
  • There’s a 20% decline in trust in traditional media ads since 2009 according to Nielsen.
  • 40% of online consumers say they trust search ads
  • 36% trust ads on social networking sites.
  • 33% believe online banner ads – up from 26% from 2007 – but  this still lags behind print and TV.

Direct to Consumer marketers need to shift from push to pull marketing. But this requires a whole different mindset for the organization. While most Consumer Product Goods companies are bolstering their digital marketing staff and budgets, the financial sector is well behind the curve.

The Financial Sector’s Social Media Challenge – P2B

My audit of the financial services efforts to convey thought leadership shows uneven results in the use of content. Large healthcare insurers like Aetna and Cigna, followed by large group insurers like MetLife are increasingly providing links to excellent consumer informational resources through strategic partnerships.  They also provide opt in email newsletters to producers, and websites to target producers, consumers and healthcare providers. As content proliferates across social media, it becomes increasingly problematic to direct the target audience to the appropriate resources.  New strategy is needed to simplify and more effectively deliver content that addresses the Voice of the Customer.

Given the distrust consumers have for tightly controlled advertising messages, communication needs to be more closely geared to the needs and convenience of the consumer.  Yet, mass advertising continues to support brand recognition instead of consumer recognition. I will show this  using case studies to illustrate best practices and worst practices in customer engagement.  However, as marketer Michael Kowalyk puts it, the model needs to move from a B2B, B2C and D2C to P2B, that is “People to Business.”

Enter Influencer Marketing

An important part of this strategy is Influencer Marketing.

Jeremiah Owyang, writes: “The best way to become an influencer is to create one.” Translation: Shift your thinking from “what can you do for me,” and instead focus on, “what can I do for you?”

Expanding your relationships with consumers and influencers gives you the opportunity to  ask customers and partners who they listen to when it comes to your industry and to establish greater presence in social media. Ways to measure influence include Klout scores, Twitter GraderPeer Index and Twitalyzer. Instead of  trying to “rush to the close,” or else just building awareness, your brand can begin to develop real relationships with consumers and  influential figures in social meda,  built on mutual value transfer and personal familiarity. Reducing exchanges to “transactions” while perhaps immediately gratifying, in the long term will harm your ability to inspire later become a true brand advocate, and will narrow your share of wallet with your customers.

New Tools and Tactics

Many Web properties are releasing tools designed to allow users to transfer “social currency” to people and organizations they find influential in the form of digital recommendations Google’s “+1” button, Klout’s five per day share allowance of “+K” badges, and , Q&A sites that allow members to vote on select answers. Empireavenue, the virtual “human stock exchange,” takes this model a step further by enabling participants to buy and sell faux equity in rising stars in social media. All of these tools can be used to grab the attention — and hopefully favor — of influencers who can help you spread your liquid content to consumers.

In a brave new world where 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations and less than 50% trust advertising messages, these are some of the strategies that the financial services industry must undertake to harness the dynamics of consumer trust.

Snap principle of post advertising age engagement:

It’s time for P2B (People to Business) Strategy to take Center Stage