How to Translate Consumer Trends into B2B Marketing

I remember about ten years ago helping set up a Second Life presence for a brand. Remember Second Life? It was a virtual world that was like a video game, but without the “game” part.

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My client loved to use the latest and greatest trendy technology in the brand’s marketing efforts. A decade later, I’m pretty sure that brand’s Second Life presence is gathering virtual dust as simulated tumbleweeds roll by.

But how do you know? For every Second Life, there’s a Facebook. For every Twitter party and Friendster, there are hashtags and Pinterest. There’s a fine line between making sure your brand doesn’t miss the boat altogether (there are companies today that still don’t have a website) and chasing down every trend in a money-burning, time-wasting frenzy.

Most consumer brands have no choice but to jump on the trend train quickly and decisively, but B2B brands can be a little more discerning. That hesitation, however, can mean missing out on a huge opportunity, and now that trends are increasingly tied to technology, playing catch up can be as costly as changing course.

So before your manufacturing business starts examining how it can use Pokémon Go to its advantage, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Is “cutting-edge” part of your organization’s brand personality? If your value proposition focuses more on reliability and less on innovation, then watching from the sidelines to see which trends pick up steam and which are discarded is the right strategy.
  • What excites you and your customers? If you are passionate about exploring the latest and greatest, that enthusiasm will translate into your business. Demonstrating authentic passion for something is one of the best ways to get others (customers, employees, etc.) on board. Similarly, even if your value proposition is centered on reliability, if your customers’ businesses value forward-thinking, then it might be worth stepping out of your comfort zone.
  • What is the trend about, REALLY? What is it about subscription boxes that makes them, as Zoolander would say “so hot right now?” Convenience, personalization and surprise. Look to the “why” behind certain trends to figure out how to use them to your business’ advantage. Customers may not find value in a monthly box of assorted industrial sealant samples delivered to their doorsteps, but take the “why” behind the concept and put it to work for you. What can you provide your customers that is proactive, customized and unexpected (and don’t forget useful and/or interesting)?

Now that you’ve asked yourself the questions, which trend is the right trend for your business? Consult your friendly Saxum marketing professional for advice on what makes strategic sense for your organization and to make sure you have the basics covered first.

  • Three trends you’re already behind on: Mobile optimization. Social media. Location-based services.
  • Three trends you’re not too late for: Augmented/virtual reality. User-generated content. 360-degree video.
  • Three trends you can wait and see on: Wearables. Subscription boxes (StitchFix, BirchBox, etc.). Artificial intelligence (Siri, Cortana, etc.).

And if you’re one of the holdouts on creating a website for your company, I feel very confident advising you to go ahead and jump on in. This whole “internet” thing – I think it’s going to stick around for a while.

This post was written by Ashley Wilemon, SVP, Client Strategy & Service

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