As soon as you throw out a term like “B2B marketing”, everyone in the room starts yawning. However, when it comes to marketing something like a utility, businesses are a target that can't be ignored. Commercial customers make up almost one quarter of an average mid-sized utilities business (between 100,000 and 499,999 household customers and between 25,000 and 84,999 business customers). Studies show that one quarter of a business’ energy use is from their lighting, which is a huge amount and hints at the effect that a business customer could have on kWh (kilowatt hour) savings alone.
The thing with business customers is that you have to think of a whole new way to approach them from your usual residential customer. This segment is articulate, extremely busy on a day-to-day basis, worried about money and their bottom line, and honestly doesn’t give two cents about their utilities. Sound like a challenge?
No fears, there are ways to tap into this demographic. The biggest opportunity I see for a utility company is to stop treating this section of their customer base as B2B, but rather H2H – or human to human. Customers want to be treated and talked to as a person, not as a transaction or statistic. They want brands to talk with them, not at them. And finally, they want the communications they see to be relevant. There is a decision-maker behind every commercial customer, and that is the person you want to reach. - Here are a few ways you can begin to transition B2B marketing to H2H within your business utility customer marketing strategy.
It’s no secret that personalization is the new black when it comes to marketing communications. In today’s day-in-age, all customer’s want information to be specifically tailored for their needs. This doesn’t change with commercial customers. Would a department store want information on low-flow showerhead rebates? Probably not. Would a hotel? You bet ya.
So make sure marketing tactics are targeted to specific types of businesses and personalize the communications for what those specific businesses would need.
- Interact and engage
One of the largest struggles of marketing for a utility company is that they are not on the forefront of the customers’ minds. They are usually seen as a necessity that requires a bill be paid every month. There is a way to get around this barrier and get business customers to feel more comfortable with their utility.
Finding ways to interact and get the business decision maker to engage has a huge effect in creating a trusting relationship with a utility company. This can be phone calls, asking for the right person at the right time with the right information, or face-to-face interaction to talk about their business energy needs. Webinars can be a great tool for commercial customers to engage with when it includes valuable information they can use, like how to get the most out of a rebate. This real-life interaction helps the customer trust the utility more as well as be more engaged and peak interest.
- Humanize and make yourself relatable
The largest take away we have seen with business customers and how to humanize a brand is to show a real person that the customer can relate to and how they were impacted. Like any other customer, commercial customers like to see something that they can connect with. Case studies and testimonials can be some of the strongest forms of communication, but not only do you need a compelling testimonial, you need avenues to get it out.
A well-executed case study can create an emotional impact in which potential rebate customers can see how the program impacted another company similar to them. These types of testimonials are also memorable and extremely personable. It gets the utility and the customer excited. Tell the story, show the result, and create an emotional connection. That’s the way to a business’ heart.
There are several other ways to help humanize your B2B company, but these tactics should always be included along with other supporting tactics and mediums that align with the overall strategy. You can create the most breath-taking testimonial, have the most personable face-to-face conversation or offer the most personalized rebate packages of all time, but your customers have to know about it, and your message must be consistent. If it is, they will definitely take notice.