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How to apply DTC practices to B2B marketing

Most B2B marketing strategies have become flat and obsolete. 


How can B2B companies break out and enter a new age of customer experience and acquisition? 


The answer is DTC.


So, what is DTC?

Before diving into the how we must know the what


DTC stands for Direct-to-Consumer, a business model in which companies bypass traditional third-party retailers and sell their products directly to consumers. 


We're talking about brands such as Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, MeUndies, and Casper – companies that produce and distribute their own products across their own channels. 


You're going right to the brand themselves and avoid using any middleman. 


But why?


Using a DTC business model gives these companies lots of benefits.

  1. There's no middleman retailer = higher control over their product margins

  2. They own their purchasing channels = greater access to targeted customer data 

  3. Personalization opportunities = increase customer acquisition and brand loyalty


 DTC practices are extremely valuable, especially for growing companies. 


But only for B2C companies, right?  


Well, no.


Fundamental DTC practices for B2B marketing strategies

What are the key takeaways from DTC marketing that will benefit B2B businesses? 


1. Prioritize the customer’s experience

Ask yourself, “What does the customer experience even mean?”


First, you have to separate customer experience from customer support – they are two different things. 


Customer support is solely reactive. You wait for the fires to happen and then put them out as they arise. 


On the other hand, customer experience is proactive. It means understanding who your customers really are. As a company, you want to know your customers well enough to provide a meaningful shopping experience that starts from the moment they spot your ad and goes beyond the moment they get their purchase at the door. 


It’s about going above and beyond what everyone else is doing. To nurture your relationships with customers and show them that they are valued. 


Most B2B companies aren't thinking holistically about the customer experience. They're currently thinking about what is easier for them and how to optimize each interaction for their benefit, not the customer’s. 


This is not a good place to be in.


Why?


Now more than ever, buyers will always have other options to solve their problems, or at least different ways of finding solutions to their problems. 


Today, we need to address more than just what happens at the top of the conversion funnel—every step of the process matters. 


Look at Chewy, a pet food and products company that’s nailed its CX practices. I have two examples from Chewy I want to highlight:


Sympathy flowers

One Chewy customer shared her story about her dog's passing on Reddit.


The woman, a longtime Chewy customer, was subscribed to regularly scheduled shipments and had to cancel her subscription because her dog had unfortunately passed away.


Chewy not only refunded her latest purchase of dog food (because it had already shipped before her dog’s passing) but also sent her flowers with a note from the team with their condolences. 


This experience goes above and beyond—it’s unique from what other businesses are doing. 


And it’s not the only example of Chewy doing this. There are tons of posts similar to it. 


Of course, it's impossible to provide this kind of experience to everyone. But there are other indirect ways to nurture customer service. 


How?


Chewy’s Connect With A Vet

Take a look at Chewy’s Connect With a Vet program, which I have personally used for my dogs when all vets around me closed. 



This is another way to make the customer experience memorable, attract new customers, and retain existing ones—two key ingredients for building a long-term business. 


Considering empathy within marketing and continuously asking yourself, “How can I be thoughtful in the customer experience that I provide?” can take you further than most.


The truth? B2B still has a long way to go. 


Current B2B practices feel transactional – constantly selling and pushing products. B2B’s “free onboarding services” are not enough anymore. In a world where everyone offers that, it doesn’t help you stand out and adds to the noise.


There are many ways to automate personalized customer-forward experiences like this, so it’s still low-lift work for your team.


Just look at Monetta, a service that uses AI to help match users to their ideal dog and an ethical breeder. 

When you get your results, the company follows up with valuable educational content about the dog breeds that suit your lifestyle. And information about what your next steps could look like after choosing your best-matched breeder. 





My point is:

  • Get creative.

  • Keep your eyes open.

  • Budget for providing a memorable customer experience all the way through the conversion funnel. 


2. Don’t waste your budget targeting prospects who aren’t ready to buy

Customer acquisition plays a massive role in building a successful DTC strategy. 


Right now, B2B companies are spending a lot of money trying to capture prospective buyers' attention and persuade them to convert. 


This becomes problematic — B2B brands waste their budget on direct response messaging targeted at prospects out of the market, spending money just to come across as salesy.


The myth is that the conversion funnel consists of the prospect submitting an email, and the company will respond, and the expectation is the customer is immediately ready to purchase. 


Have you ever purchased something this quickly when you weren't aware of the business before? Likely not.


Instead, B2B companies should boost organic content that is actually valuable for their consumers. This content can take many forms, including a great resource, a unique POV, interesting insight, and more. 


When looking at the funnel, there is an entire journey to consider. Part of the process is supplying different organic resources that play a specific role at every step of the buying process. 


With this approach, when buyers are ready to buy, they will know where to find you. 


The key phrase is when they’re ready to buy, not you.


3. B2B businesses make it difficult to engage with their content

B2B companies are gating their content unnecessarily. There, I said it.


The public should have access to practices at the bottom of the funnel, like case studies, demos, and pricing information.


DTC practices stress this accessibility. In DTC, you can engage with brands anywhere. They want you to engage, react, comment, and share across all channels, and they make it incredibly easy to do so. 


Even if you do share your email in some sort of website form, quiz, or pop-up, you’re immediately getting something valuable in return, like a discount, entrance into a giveaway, or free product. 


B2B, on the other hand… has made it too difficult to engage with their content. It simply turns people off. 


To add to the chaos, many B2B companies have prioritized AI over considering unique POVs and interesting angles, so the content quality itself has deteriorated. 


Why? This is a classic case of a quantity-over-quality mentality. There is an unwillingness to do qualitative research about customers and what they are looking for from their vendors.


So, make everything open to the public? No, not exactly.


Some things are still appropriate to gate (I get it, we all need leads). To me, gating things like the following makes sense:

  • High-quality reports with never-before-seen data. 

  • Webinars with unique speakers 

  • Access to exclusive events


But you shouldn’t gate these things (yet I still see people do it):

  • Case studies – let everyone see your successes, not just those who give you their email.

  • Content that is already on the internet – why gate an ebook when tons of media already cover the same points?


Are you starting to see the trend?


4. There’s not enough “face” in B2B

People buy into the stories of the brand. 


Think about the companies we discussed earlier – Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club—all examples of brands synonymous with their founders. 


This works so well for DTC because the brand's story makes people feel a part of the brand's journey. 


In B2B, there is a huge opportunity to start employing these DTC story-sharing practices. It's simple. People buy from people. 


Customers want to see your human, empathetic side. As Aaron Orendorff says, "People buy with their hearts." 


Many B2B companies keep their CEOs behind closed doors. This completely barricades the business and consumer relations when people see the face, the embodiment of the company. 


Take Dentologie, a dental practice in Chicago that acquires 25% of its customers through a strong social media presence. 



Dentologie offers what most general dental practices do, but the business is unique in that it prioritizes building a brand image to grow. And even more unique, this brand growth comes from Co-Founder Dr. Suhail Mohiuddin posting content himself. 


With marketing through Instagram ads and viral TikTok and Reels, users can see the brand's face and personality. 



Another great example is Tommy Clarke, CEO of a B2B social media agency Compound Social, uses his social media channels to share tips and connect with his audience almost daily.

And even KnoCommerce, a B2B customer survey platform built for ecommerce brands.


Everyone knows the faces behind this company because many of them dedicate time to social media to share their wins and stories—faces like the CEOVP of Revenue, and the Sales Lead.


There is one difference between DTC and B2B when sharing your story.


With DTC, a story can help drive sales for nice-to-haves. 


However, with B2B, the customer needs to have their product, service, or software. Especially in this economy. This means that there needs to be a strong pain point that gets the prospect to buy into a B2B company, and it can be difficult to master this messaging.

 

Whether you have a good founder's story or not, you won't get the customers if your product doesn't solve their problems.


The last thing I’ll say is that even the best marketing cannot fix a bad product. So develop a DTC-inspired customer experience, valuable and accessible content, and your brand image while also offering valuable solutions to customers' problems to back that up.


By the way, I specialize in the content department—strategy and writing. Send me a message if you’re interested in building your organic funnel!

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