DTC for B2B – Why B2B Businesses Need to Act Like D2C Brands

The new generation of direct to consumer (DTC) brands offer business to business (B2B) and startups a blueprint for success. While the audiences may be different, the approach can be the same. DTC brands show that forging connections with customers through content is the route to building a strong business. 

Sharing best practice within organisations and industries is commonplace. Now it’s time for B2B to embrace the DTC model. Implemented well, the DTC approach for B2B marketing can deliver brand building by enhancing reputation and market positioning. This comes along with lead generation, through driving engagement with prospects.  

Every business wants to be in position where they have a direct ongoing relationship with their existing customers, plus prospects, employees and investors. So how can B2B steal some of that DTC swagger?


Breaking Down the DTC Approach

DTC brands market differently from old school consumer brands, with several key characteristics:  

·      They’ve cut out the marketing middlemen, connecting directly with their market and customers.

·      They‘re totally focused on data and customer relationship management

·      They’re on a mission with a clear purpose

·      They have a performance-driven approach to marketing

·      They use content marketing and branded content strategies to tell their story

·      Stories are told across different platforms and in different formats, from editorial to video, powered by digital and social

Building a Community Through Content

Content is core to how DTC brands operate. They don’t just want to sell products to customers; they want to build a community through content. They articulate their vision and express it this way. And it inspires a passion and loyalty in customers akin to fandom, as they share the content.  

The behaviour of DTC customers has far more impact than advertising ever can, as they become brand advocates alongside buying products. This is what makes DTC businesses the rock stars of the 21stcentury business world, creating disruptive, sexy brands that gain a cult-like status. 

Knowing Your Customers and Your Purpose

The content DTC brands produce is founded on an understanding of their customers, along with an understanding of their own purpose in serving them. Whether they’re digital, social, or mobile businesses, this is a unifying theme. DTC brands are culturally driven with a purpose greater than just making money or selling products. It’s a key element in how they build direct sales and customer relationships.

Every B2B business can do this. Whether a global enterprise or a bootstrapped startup, each business founder started with a strong vision and mission. That could be to develop a product or service that delights customers, and makes their world more efficient, less expensive, or more lucrative etc. It could also extend to creating a better workplace and looking after employees.   

Know your audience to avoid marketing to the wrong crowd.

Know your audience to avoid marketing to the wrong crowd.

Telling Your story Through Your People

Whatever a company does, there will be a story to tell (and to keep telling) about how the business came into being, how it was built and the culture and vision. Storytelling centred on the company’s purpose is what will get customers interested, creating a real link between them and the business. 

A company’s people are essential to telling its story. Employees who know products inside out can explain how they’re being improved to create better results. Staff with deep expertise can provide a point of view on the market and insights on navigating it. Putting an editorial filter on all this knowledge can produce content that’s a lot more interesting than case studies or infographics. 

Ultimately, teams looking to innovate and futureproof their business know the potential in the offering, and can convey that. These are all stories worth sharing, because they will be valuable to customers.  

The Impact of a Content-Powered DTC Approach

The importance of DTC brands and the new direct economy is recognised. The success of DTC has brought an understanding that a content-powered approach has powerful consequences. It can enable a direct connection with potential customers through numerous digital and social channels. 

Take the recent guide for 2019-2020 produced by The Interactive Advertising Bureau. Its Direct Brands Report is titled ‘How to Build a 21st Century Brand’. It shows how using this approach and applying it consistently will help businesses create ongoing engagement and build a community.  

We believe in the content-powered DTC approach. And we want to support companies in using it. We know it can help B2B businesses get to where they want to be, fast!

Mark Maddox