Making the case for Business-to-Individual (B2i) communications

You're all individualsOne of my favourite bits in Monty Python’s Life of Brian is when a crowd gathers to follow Brian, believing him to be the messiah. But he tries to dissuade them.

“You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!” he tells the crowd but they respond in unison, “Yes! We’re all individuals”.

No matter what Brian says, the crowd just don’t seem to get it. He labours on, “You’re all different!”

“Yes, we are all different!” the crowd repeats back. Until one man adds, “I’m not!”

That is the main thrust of this blog post. That is to say, we are all individuals and we are all different. And this should have an important bearing on our approach to marketing communications.

In communications, we talk about B2B (Business to Business) communications, that is communicating on behalf of one business to reach another business – usually to sell them something.

But most of the time what we’re really talking about is B2i communications – that’s Business to Individual communications. Who are you really targeting within another business with your communication if not an individual person, or set of individuals?

When you target a company for new business, for example, you are aiming to reach key individuals, not an unidentifiable, amorphous organisation.

When you design and target marketing communications towards another business, it is individuals that consume it. And it is individuals that you therefore want to persuade and influence.

Clearly, individuals have different communication styles, preferences and tastes. They have different interests, cultures and beliefs. Different hopes, fears and desires.

You might say, we don’t have the time or money to go into that level of detail to win new business. And our marketing communications can’t be tailored to that level of specificity.

Really? Don’t kid yourself.

If you don’t have time to personalise your marketing communications you’re doing something wrong. Big brands can and are doing this, and going into exactly this level of detail to win new business.

I’ve worked with a range of corporates in this area; where marketing communications meets interpersonal communication. In this space, marketing communication is tailored down to the micro level of the individual and the personal.

If you think about it, it makes sense. If you’ve done the research to identify your key influencers and decision makers, why wouldn’t you then tailor your marketing communications to suit specific individuals?

Your audience think for themselves. They are all different. They are all individuals. The cost of investment into bespoke individual communication is relatively small, but the returns are potentially huge.

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