Most companies keep their business-to-consumer (B-to-C) from business-to-business (B-to-B) communications separate believing that what connects with business professionals is not the same as what works with consumers. Business professionals need statistics and data; consumers respond to emotion.
Now, Intuit and creative agency Piston are going against conventional wisdom to introduce a new B-to-B campaign that uses B-to-C techniques.
"We made assumptions previously that the evaluation process of the tax accountant lives within a conservative, logical mind-set—what does it do and how much does it cost?" asks Jason Ensign, Senior Account Executive, Piston. "We are now encouraging people to see our products through a different lens—how will it make my life better and further advance not just my professional goals, but also my personal goals? We are bringing out the values that connect people to our products emotionally and ongoing testing has proven that it’s working. Accountants are people, too, and they are starting to see Intuit professional tax products in a new way."
This campaign already has proven effective. Earlier this year, Intuit and Piston
introduced a test campaign that weaved emotional and relevant demonstrations of what life can be like when you use Intuit Tax Online. The ads ran from January through February in various accounting
publications, with resulting research showing a significant gain in unaided recall for Intuit Tax Online (a lift of 23% against control).
Also, 79% of respondents stated that the ad elicited further interest to learn more about Intuit Tax Online (a 55% lift against control). And 43% of respondents declared actual intent to research the product within 30 days of the research.
Now, Intuit and Piston are introducing a fully integrated B-to-B campaign using this strategy that launches June 26 with emails for Intuit Tax Online. Then, there will be a complete integration for all current marketing channels, including digital (Web, email, banner ads), print and direct mail. The same strategy is also currently being applied to all of the products under the Intuit Professional Tax Group umbrella, including Lacerte and ProSeries.
"When we started digging into who are customers are and who Intuit Tax Online is, we unearthed some very interesting
data,” said Piston’s Ensign. “Initially, we were certain that Intuit Tax Online customers were seeking a better work/life balance and that we could offer that to them. What we
learned is that most customers felt their ideal balance was unrealistic, and while the idea was encouraging, it would never happen for them.
"What resonated well, and ultimately became the foundation of our brand pyramid, is the idea of 'freedom.' Customers want the power to experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life. That opened the door for us to explore not only the idea of better balance but to also experiment with connecting to customers on endless emotional levels while still being able to prominently feature the benefits of the products we sell," he added.
Still, there are challenges to finding the right balance between expressing the higher-end emotional benefit with actual product features, says Ensign. "It’s difficult to
successfully merge the two and still succinctly communicate the main message. Getting the lead into the top of funnel requires appealing to the heart, while converting a customer at the bottom of
their decision journey requires appealing to their head. It’s the classic challenge of selling software—make something technical resonate emotionally."
As a result, Intuit and Piston are constantly optimizing the overall strategy to find the right mix of emotional versus technical within each channel and customer touch point, says Ensign. "It’s a very rewarding game of marketing chess."
Piston has been responsible for Intuit's branding, digital and direct since 2012. The tech firm is one of the agency's top three clients, which also include Cars.com, and Luxottica.