Industry Overlap: When B-to-B Meets B-to-C Marketing

Melody Udell
B2B Marketing
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Key Takeaways
  • The B-to-B and B-to-C industries are becoming increasingly interconnected, and marketers today are utilizing elements of both to inform their overall marketing strategies. 
  • Yvette Morrison, a former CPG marketer with Coca-Cola, joined the team at industrial supplier Snap-on Tools to bring a classical marketing framework to its largely B-to-B strategy.
  • “Given my background at Coca-Cola, everything starts with insights. … If I get an insight from a technician but I can’t get buy-in from a franchisee, my program is dead in the water.”

As the line between B-to-B and B-to-C continues to blur, marketers are increasingly pulling from each toolbox to drive engagement and prove ROI without abandoning their tried-and-true business models. Yvette Morrison, vice president of marketing at industrial tool manufacturing company Snap-on Tools Corp., based in Kenosha, Wis., sees this blurred line as an opportunity to shake up long-held B-to-B marketing beliefs using B-to-C techniques. A former consumer marketer, Morrison leveraged her CPG background to establish a classical marketing framework within Snap-on, transforming how the 90-year-old company markets to both its sales fleet of franchisees and its end users. B2B Marketing caught up with Morrison to learn why she made the move from CPG to B-to-B and how she’s breaking down industry marketing barriers.  

Q: You came to Snap-on Tools after more than 10 years within the marketing department at Coca-Cola. Why did you make the move from a globally recognized CPG brand to a niche B-to-B company?

A: I can recall three years ago when I was contacted by a recruiter for a company called Snap-On in a place called Kenosha, Wisc. My reaction was, ‘Who? And where?’ But what they shared with me is that this was a company that had been around over 90 years and a strong brand was at the center of a company that was focused on engineering and manufacturing prowess, and, more recently, sales influence. They were now keen to have a much stronger marketing influence and wanted a classical marketer. They hadn’t had one in the past but believed there was a lot of merit in the next frontier. … That’s when I started doing my due diligence about the company and about the brand, and that’s when I realized that Snap-on is iconic—as iconic as Coca-Cola—to its end users. 

Q: The Snap-on Tools business model is a combination of B-to-B and direct sales. How does that work, and what kind of room do you have to integrate B-to-C marketing techniques?

A: Today, the only thing that gets delivered to your home—and I don’t know how much longer that will be—is the mail, but Snap-on [products] are still delivered in a truck five days a week to where our automotive technicians work. Every day our franchisees call on 140,000 of our customers, and that happens over five days a week. …

We liken our franchisees as deputy CMOs. They are the face of the brand. They are the ones who truly establish that initial trust and respect that’s important to an end user. … If that tech doesn’t like that franchisee, he’s not going to purchase from him, so we must do things to make our franchisees the voice of the brand. …

Snap-on was very focused on franchisees and then offering some transactional ways for them to sell on through to the end user. I like to think that since I’ve been on board, I’ve repositioned the use of end-user research to help us create and stimulate more demand that initiates with the end user, so it’s not just a franchisee saying, ‘Here’s what I’ve got on special this week.’  [We want] end users to go to the franchisee or through some of our other sales channels, which are digital, and say, ‘I heard about this new innovative product that you’ve come out with. I believe it will make me more productive with my job and I want to purchase it.’ I’ve been able to integrate a stronger end-user-focused approach to the way we sell. 

The specific B-to-C technique I applied at Snap-on is the repositioned use of end-user research to generate insights and develop programming. In the past, Snap-on was more focused on collecting behavioral data, such as tracking studies, versus attitudinal [data]—moving beyond the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ to get to the ‘why.’ One example is the multicultural marketing targeting young, Hispanic technicians with the ‘Represent’ digital campaign. This [customer] segment expressed a desire to assimilate into their role as a technician as a means to validate their credentials. Hispanic technicians told us they wanted to be respected but they did not want to be treated differently because of their heritage: ‘Acknowledge me but do not single me out.’ They wanted all collateral to be in English since that’s the language that car repair manuals come in.

Q: Since you came on board, how have you utilized your CPG experience in the B-to-B world? 

A: When I interviewed, the chairman said in no uncertain terms that Snap-on wasn’t a marketing organization. I remember him saying, ‘We are not a marketing organization, I don’t believe in marketing, I don’t believe in data, so don’t ever bring it to me. But we’d love to have you.’ What they were really trying to tell me was that they had a model that was working. It was not a company or a brand that was in trouble mode. They weren’t looking for someone to come in and have all of these grandiose ideas of what we can do for marketing, they really just wanted to see an evolution of things they were already doing. So I came in, and I like to say that my motto is, ‘If it ain’t broke, I fix it.’ Things that were working well, we sharpened and made them work better. 

Q: What role does marketing insights play within such an industrial B-to-B company? 

A: Given my background at Coca-Cola, everything starts with insights. At my last role at Coca-Cola, I was the assistant vice president of shopper marketing, where I was very focused on shopper behavior motivations. I’ve worked with some suppliers to help me gather and discern [insights], and I’ve worked with a couple of marketing strategy organizations that help us understand where we should fish and help us field and interpret the research. … If I get an insight from a technician but I can’t get buy-in from a franchisee, my program is dead in the water. 

Yvette Morrison was a speaker at the AMA’s 2014 Annual Conference Sept. 3-Oct. 2. For more information, visit Conference.

​This was originally published in the October​​ 2014 issue of the B2B Marketing​​​​ e-newsletter.​​

Author Bio:

Melody Udell
Melody Udell is the managing editor of the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. She can be reached at
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