Viral marketing in B2B: Is there such a thing?

Some people spend their lives searching for buried treasure in ancient times. In reality, very few manage to find one. The same is true of viral marketing campaigns. All companies seek to create one, but very few do, in the end. Here is what you need to know about viral marketing, and more specifically in the B2B sector.

Differences between B2B and B2C

B2B means business that takes place between companies (business to business), unlike B2C, which sells to individuals (business to consumer). To say that the difference between these two types of sales changes absolutely everything, would not be far from the truth. When speaking to consumers, the goal is to reach as many people as possible, which is not necessarily the case in B2B, where priority must be given to the quality of contacts, instead of the quantity.

The company’s dialogue with the world is also very different. B2C brands want to be seen as often as possible, and to reveal their tailoring secrets; what makes them different and which quality sets them apart from their competitors. On the contrary, when a company sells to others, it must find a way to protect its know-how. That is why B2B firms use particularly high-level security on their servers and the data they contain. Its starts with the use of a VPN and continues through a wide variety of other security measures.

What is Viral Marketing?

To put it simply, a marketing campaign goes viral, when people grab it and share it among themselves, by the hundreds of thousands. It usually happens suddenly, as the chain, that began with only a few shares, keeps growing, being sent out from one user to all their contacts, at every step. In the end, the brand that created the marketing campaign suddenly becomes the topic of the day, on all social networks. Then, news sites start talking about it, as do entertainment shows (not always, but frequently), bringing it to everyone around the world.

How is a Viral Marketing Campaign created?

That’s the complexity if the issue at hand. While everyone wants to create a viral marketing campaign, there is no blueprint that can be followed to create one that the public will grab, and make it world-famous, in no time. The only real secret of such a campaign is to think out of the box, and to shape it in an unusual way. Attempting to follow codes would kill any possibility of a wild success.

Viral and B2B: is this Combination possible?

This is a much more complicated question than it sounds. In fact, to go viral, a marketing campaign has to be picked up by a global audience. If the campaign is aimed only at engineering firms, retail businesses, or any other sector clearly identified by the message it sends, there is little chance that it will take off in a viral way, since it will only be seen by people in the community and will not (at first sight) interest others. But this is not an absolute truth.

If the marketing manager of a B2B company wants to try and create a viral campaign, nothing prevents him from trying to do so. However, he will have to free himself from certain codes that rule the B2B sector. First, his message should be addressed to all audiences. Then, he will have to let his imagination run wild, and not worry about the ridiculousness that is often a part of these campaigns. Finally, it will have to step outside its usual marketing plan. Otherwise, if he continues on the same path of previous media campaigns, it is likely that none of his contacts will forward his ad to his “friends” on social media. And so, the marketing director will need to enlarge his audience, for the good of the campaign.

Is a Viral Marketing Campaign even interesting for a B2B company?

This is possibly the most important question to be asked. If a brand selling to consumers manages to climb to the top of global views, on the Internet, it could bring them new customers by the thousands. But is this also true for the business in B2B? It is not so evident.

It is possible that the notoriety that the company will have gained, thanks to this visibility, will facilitate its entry into new firms, in order to present their products or services. But it can also backfire, as other companies in their sector will pass judgment on their marketing campaign, which could be damaging. Indeed, it is quite probable that some will question the seriousness of the company, for having created such a marketing campaign, and by addressing itself to an audience that has nothing to do with its products or services.

So, if you work in B2B marketing and you’re looking for a miracle to happen, through viral marketing, maybe it’s time to start looking for new strategies.

Carry F.

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