Financial services marketers responsible for Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C) models have traditionally relied on intermediaries to sell their products and services, such as independent financial advisors or insurance agents. Yet in today’s pandemic-accelerated digital disruption where consumers are self-serving with greater transparency than ever before, a lack of direct access to the end consumer is becoming an increasing issue.
Companies across financial services are exploring the viability of direct-to-consumer channels for more control over the end-to-end customer journey. This approach could minimize their reliance on downstream business performance and puts the brand in more direct control of revenue streams. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when exploring additional distribution channels.
Know your constraints
A common challenge is achieving permission to directly communicate with and market to the downstream customer. Differences exist due to industry vertical, regulation and the nature of the B2B partnership, so perform the due diligence needed to clarify what you can and can’t do. Next, clarify what you should do based on potential impact to the relationship or how DTC efforts might be perceived by partners. This input can also help shape your long-term strategy for how to succeed using a hybrid B2B2C/DTC model.
Revisit the value proposition
Not all products in their current form-factor are designed for digital-only, DTC consumption. Making existing products more accessible for digital consumption isn’t always a recipe for success. Sometimes the product isn’t meant for the market segments that would gain the most value (think older demographics, unbanked or underbanked, etc.)
Determine if the product or service is the type that end-consumers would expect to purchase and utilize directly. Also determine how their journey would be different from the current B2B2C approach. One straightforward approach is to evaluate existing personas and customer journeys to reflect the end-to-end experience for each stakeholder in the value chain (e.g., B2B buyers, intermediaries, and B2C customers).
Develop different messaging and collateral across both models. A message regarding retirement benefits sent to an individual’s email inbox for work will be given a different level of time and attention than one received in their personal email inbox. Context is key. An email from employer to employee, or one that is authorized by the employer, might require more orientation in the message since the customer isn’t expecting this type of email to enter their work inbox. That required orientation is in contrast to the brevity often typical of outbound marketing emails more regularly seen in customers’ personal email inboxes.
Personalize your efforts
By tailoring your strategy across channels and market segments, you can leverage a more effective multi-channel strategy and minimize the risk of conflicting messaging. When discussing data needs with your B2B partners, provide a clear distinction between data you’re using to inform your marketing strategy vs. data used to target the individuals with marketing. For example, the right data can answer questions about how many employees in a population would benefit from various retirement options or measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts against common benchmarks.
As we continue to evolve in response to digital disruption, it’s becoming clear that marketers responsible for B2B2C products and services must be experts in equal measure across both B2B and B2C marketing strategies. To learn more about how B2B and B2C customers engage with new digital experiences to explore their needs and complete purchases, read Gartner’s How B2B and B2C Customers Engage With New Digital Experiences Across the Customer Journey*.
For marketers less versed in the world of direct-to-consumer marketing, read What Marketing Leaders Need to Know About Selling Direct to Consumer* and How to Sell on Marketplaces and Direct Channels*.