The Cross-Pollination of B2B & B2C Marketing: Interview with Aaron LeValley

The lines between B2C and B2B marketing are blurring. There are B2B companies selling products via simple online transactions; B2C companies with longer buying cycles that mirror complex B2B sales; and hybrid organizations that market simultaneously to consumers and businesses.

The cross-pollination between B2C and B2B marketing came up in a recent conversation with Aaron LeValley, Director of CRM for AEG Sports, a division of AEG which oversees the LA Kings (NHL), LA Galaxy (MLS), and other sports properties. Seeing it come up more and more, I decided to do a follow-up Q&A on the topic.

The LA Kings are primarily a B2C marketing organization. Yet, in many ways, you operate like traditional B2B marketers. What B2B marketing strategies have you employed to better engage fans?

The Kings really do take an approach that’s similar to B2B. Each individual has their own sales lifecycle and our goal is to identify where they’re at and then send relevant communications with the right call to action at the right time. With students, for instance, we’ll try to get them to go to a game as part of our student package and engage them with team-related content. We’re not going to market season tickets the next day. It boils down to understanding who the customer is, where they’re at in the buying process, and which products suit them best.

One of the B2B programs the Kings implemented was a typical lead nurturing program. Previously, without a robust CRM, we would send leads to our sales team and not really know what happened with them. So we created a program which sends timed communications when individuals explicitly express interest by visiting our website, filling out a form, purchasing single game tickets, etc. We now have a variety of lead nurturing programs that communicate based on specific actions, extending the sales cycle from one call by a sales rep to a 1-2 month process that helps drive better engagement and sales.

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Let’s flip the question. What do you think B2B marketers could learn and apply from their B2C counterparts?

One thing is adding a sense of urgency to the purchase decision. Take our annual Bay to Breakers road race. It’s something that we sell once a year, so we try to create urgency for consumers by identifying key moments that speed up the purchase decision. For instance, we select key dates and tier our pricing to incentive consumers to register early, or will identify a new feature/benefit from the race to create that sense of urgency.

It’s comes down to understanding the buying cycle. You’re going to do the same thing from a B2C standpoint. A person who wants to run a road race will identify 4-5 local or destination races. Then they’re going to look for the call to action. It’s identifying those customers and making sure you’re reaching them at the right time, but also giving them a little urgency. Is it tiered pricing? Is it an additional benefit that expires? I think there are a lot of ways that B2B companies can add urgency without devaluing their products, so you can entice them to make a decision sooner rather than later.

The LA Kings have a great social presence, and you’ve run some interesting programs using Neolane Social Marketing to acquire addressable contacts from Facebook and Twitter. Discuss how the team has approached social marketing and your plans moving forward.

The Kings have about 500,000 followers between Facebook and Twitter. Our social marketing strategy has been largely focused on engagement: keeping followers abreast of team news and delivering relevant content. This approach is similar to our email communications in that we’re trying to ensure the messages are relevant.
Using Neolane Social Marketing, we’ve been able to take our efforts a step further by identifying followers beyond their Twitter or Facebook handle. On Twitter, for example, we launched a simple bounce back campaign that sends new followers a direct message (DM) with a contest to win tickets and a trip to one of our games. In order to enter, they have to complete a brief form and provide their name, email, and Twitter handle. This campaign has generated an 8% response rate, netting hundreds of new contacts in our database.

The goal is really to identify and acquire social media followers, so that we can start marketing to them in more traditional ways – through email, direct mail, and call campaigns. Then we can start to put value behind it, to understand how many of them are already season ticket holders, how many of them have bought tickets before, and how many of them are prospects. We’re really looking forward to trying out some new initiatives moving forward.

To learn more about how Neolane and partner FanOne Marketing have helped the LA Kings to increase revenue, retention, and fan loyalty, download the full case study (no registration required).

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