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True C2B complements B2C marketing and moves beyond analytics and big data. It’s powered through personal data ownership and drives business performance and customer satisfaction.

A consumer-to-business (C2B) approach is the new buzz term for businesses, and it’s one that many are adopting. The practice takes various forms from online reviews to social media and customer analytics. Fundamentally, it relates to the increased impact that consumers can have on business communications and operations. It’s a good thing with powerful effects, but it could have even greater benefits if it was pushed further.

C2B has the potential to be more than a reactive process of giving feedback or squeezing big data. It should be a proactive exercise where the consumer is the one to start the conversation and let businesses know what they want, when they want.

Instead of supply seeking demand, it’s demand requesting supply. Instead of a business monologue it’s the start of a dialogue.

What’s going on now?

Before we go any further, let’s look at the current state of play. Marketing today is a predominantly business-to-consumer (B2C) activity. The consumer, i.e. the individual C, is often not well known or actively involved. People are consequently grouped into consumer segments and individual behaviours are tracked and aggregated for the purposes of optimising services and improving marketing performance.

This all works pretty well on the surface. Last year the data exchange market relating to personal data was worth more than $150bn in the US alone. Advertising and ecommerce are clearly successful industries as they operate on a truly gigantic scale.

Yet, below the surface, it all operates on inferred data not real data. The individual consumers themselves remain enigmatic and largely unengaged. Specific campaign performance and efficiency are known to be very low and have to be compensated for with massive volume. Billions of adverts are served by businesses and hundreds received by individuals.

Moving beyond B2C

One answer is to tune B2C marketing with ever more precise real-time consumer data, then feed this into big data systems that help predict behaviour trends. Think of ?the Tesco and Amazon recommendation engines and Google-Now.

An alternative answer lies in a C2B service that lets consumers exchange their own data with businesses on demand, and elevates marketing from a monologue to a dialogue.

The solution to how this could be done on a mass and efficient scale is surprisingly simple. Give people the tools to plug into their digital footprints and pull out information to use elsewhere. In a nutshell, it’s a data plug and play.

The universal benefits of personal data ownership

Once people are armed with their personal data they can choose to share relevant bits with businesses, when it suits them. For example, when they are actually looking for car insurance or need family financial data for house and mortgage hunting. Or when they are looking for interest-based events, like finding gigs matched to their music tastes. This change in personal data ownership has huge benefits for consumers and businesses alike.

Consumers can control and tailor offers and deals to their preferences, usage and timescales. Businesses will know who their potential customers are, what they want and when – with the full consent and mechanisms to engage with them and make offers.

The beauty of this process is that it works in harmony with current B2C offerings. Consumer and business interactions become a circular journey where everything is linked. Businesses collect consumer usage and behaviour data, which is available for people to tap into and use. People can then augment their data and reuse it to enable businesses to tailor services to actual customer needs, at the right times.

Setting C2B standards

To harness the true power of C2B, the tools that enable this process need to be highly transparent and easy to use. The benefits of sharing personal data must be crystal clear, and strictly monitored. If we enable and encourage individuals to share their personal data and demand information, then, for mutual gain, businesses need to respect some new rules. Or they will abuse consumer trust and limit C2B effectiveness.

ctrlio is building a C2B marketing platform and set of tools to make this vision a reality, the first of which is already live and successful. The tool helps consumers find better mobile phone deals based on their current usage. It has consumer acceptance and demand, proven and scalable channel distribution, and proven partner benefits and pricing models.

To see how it works, go to ctrlio and give it a whirl.

Article originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

Laurence John

Laurence has been developing, marketing and financing advanced products in aerospace, mobile and early stage venture environments for the past 25 years.