The old divide between B2B and B2C is starting to crumble. Like the Berlin Wall, it will need to be taken down piece by piece.

Why, you ask?

It’s because the distinctions that created the wall in the first place are less relevant. Think of it. B2C sells products directly to consumers, fosters repeat purchases, and wants the brand to be pervasive across phones, tablets, laptops, and more. In fact, they want their brand everywhere their audience hangs out.

Now what about B2B? Some of the old distinctions are still true. The products have a longer sales cycle. B2B companies are not trying for impulse purchases. They understand that they need to engage their prospect 7-19 times before they can make a sale.

Brand Humanity Remains The Same

But now let’s look at what’s the same.  In one word: People. In fact, it’s the same people. The ones who buy a rake from Home Depot, lipstick at Macy’s, and a smartphone case online are the same people who have jobs that require them to evaluate and purchase high ticket items.

Okay, so you knew that already. But here’s where it gets interesting. People are using the same devices to research inexpensive personal products as well as expensive corporate products. People are responding to brands —both personal and corporate — emotionally, intellectually, objectively, subjectively, digitally, tangibly, and in every other respect.

Offline and online commerce continues to converge. These consumers, corporate and personal, are in control. They are moving through the world browsing, comparing, sharing, and buying anytime, anywhere.

What You Can Do About It

Once you realize how pervasive the shopping experience has become, you need to step back and rethink and retool how you do business. How does brand humanity reach people when they are ready for more information? Where can you leverage digital technology to reach new customers in innovative ways? Where can you find the information, data, and marketing solutions that meet the needs of this new breed of customer? How do you track seemingly small patterns of change in consumer behavior to get an edge?

How do you create a brand that connects with the right people, when people so naturally merge physical, digital, and social, and when the path to purchase is complex and nonlinear? In some ways, you have to start over.

Here are some tried and true steps to get you started reimagining your brand!

  1. Rebuild your buyer personas — add info about how these people research and buy new products.
  2. Use big data — to gain insights into buyer behavior that can become the foundation for your planning
  3. Rebuild your positioning — get a fresh look at competitors (maybe some of them are also seeing the light)
  4. Reimagine  your brand — you shouldn’t be taking your old brand and shoehorning it into a new digital channel; you need a new vision for your brand.
  5. Don’t settle for ordinary ideas — you need breakthrough ideas that enable your positioning to shine through

Success Is Just Around the Corner

Say hello to a new breed of consumers who are shaped by the decisions they make and the opinions they share and the ways they connect. The relationship between brands and people is now a conversation and not a shouted message. Perhaps it always has been. But if you can be the first person in your industry segment to understand how your customers move through the world, you can seize the advantage. You can create resonant experiences where people can reach out and find their brand.

Marketing to people will be the new mantra. And to succeed, you will need ideas that are fresh, engaging, even entertaining. You need creative ideas that will grab attention and change behavior. You need breakthrough ideas that that elevate discussion and inspire action. You need campaigns that are as insightful as they are entertaining. You need top shelf ideas that tell stories, solve problems, and make brands work—beautifully.

Being on the receiving end of any one of those communications can be an unsettling experience. That’s what makes them impactful. That’s the time the real race to market is won or lost.