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B2B versus B2C? It’s B.S.!

In any B2B discussiongroup, forum or text book, there’s usually a long - and often tedious - debate about how B2B is very different to Consumer/B2C. Or, just as often, how the two disciplines are exactly the same.

In my view, B2C marketers should start thinking and acting more like those in B2B. B2B is all about having the patience to cope with a long buying cycle and realising that buying decisions are rewarded or regretted over a considerable period of time. So you need to appeal to logic and facts as well as (and not instead of) emotions.

 

Many consumer purchases have long term impacts and involve complex decision making. Buying a new car, a new house or a pension investment has just as much of an impact on
an individual as purchasing an expensive piece of new equipment does on a company. But consumer marketers do not seem to recognise the fact that very few people will be persuaded to make long term decisions based solely on a great catch phrase, a glossy advert or a inspirational 30 second video. It doesn’t stop them wasting money trying to sell cars, mortages and investments in exactly the same way as they would sell soap powder, chocolate or beer.

 

I am passionate about business to business marketing. But I don’t understand why we have this perpetual struggle to carve out a separate B2B identity. The fact that the customer is a business rather than an individual is not enough for it to be considered a special discipline. In my experience, rather than protecting the unique set of skills required for B2B Marketing, labelling activities typical of B2B tends to create a downmarket ghetto and a “chip on the shoulder” attitude.

Perhaps we need to change the B2C and B2B labels to “instant” and “long-term” marketing? Only then will marketing meet the real motivations and expectations of customers whether they are wearing their weekend or their work hats. And then, as marketers, we’ll be better able to collaborate, encourage cross-over and appreciate the skills required for each approach – instead of arguing over which is better.