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Prosumer is a portmanteau of professional and consumer.
I first came across it writing a blog post on the secret to mobile startup success.
There are many startups that begin as consumer focused businesses before unveiling an enterprise product.
It strikes me this often leads to a successful B2B product, so I thought I’d look at Uber (and briefly Airbnb) and discuss what B2B companies can take from a prosumer model.
Piggy-back on consumer habits
Uber Garage is the innovation lab of Uber, the private hire car app.
The Garage came up with UberRUSH in April 2014, a courier service based on the same principles of private hire.
One of the obvious plus points for UberRUSH as it faces competition in New York is the number of users already familiar with the Uber interface.
The RUSH services sits on another tab in the app, making it instantly familiar to a large swathe of users.
The lesson for B2B companies is that a service should treat business prospects as consumers, not as prospects to add to a marketing funnel.
Mirror consumer facing interfaces, make the UX as familiar as possible, and allow me to do everything quickly without making a phone call.
Treat business customers with consumer levels of respect
Traditionally, B2B has been less transparent than B2C. Whether it be pricing or promises. That’s perhaps to be expected when talking about service propositions.
But increasingly corporate and consumer are merging thanks to increases in subscription based services on the consumer side and the decline of on-premise on the business side.
What this means in B2B is that talking to customers in a frank manner is advantageous.
Here’s a tiny and simple example from UberRUSH. Pricing is transparent, too, as opposed to many couriers that agree on a rate.
Understand consumer trends in the workplace
A more relaxed or flexible corporate environment is also shown in travel. Airbnb is looking to push into the business and hospitality markets.
Forbes reported that Concur, a corporate tool for expense and travel management, has seen an uptick in vacation rentals now surfacing on expense reports.
Whether it be buying Apple TVs for meeting rooms, or a grocery run from a supermarket, there are likely businesses using your consumer services without you knowing it.
Shout about the good things you do
Branding is something that B2C companies are traditionally better at than B2B, as so much of B2C depends on first impressions and relationships are more fleeting.
Shouting about the good things your company does can be done as part of this positioning. It’s not a cheap tactic, it’s merely an extension of that consumer facing mentality.
Look at the below. UberRUSH does a great thing for charity. It should make this apparent and does. Yes, there may not be a direct business benefit to the business customer (aside from meeting CSR goals) but appealing to the person in procurement and their values is a happy side effect of merely talking about this kind of activity. It’s what companies like Unilever, with its Project Sunlight, do all the time.