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Five Key Differences Between B2B and B2C Online Marketing

If you’re thinking about starting up an online B2B business, it’s important to devise an online marketing strategy right from the start. Although there is certainly some overlap between marketing strategies for B2C and B2B businesses, there are also a few differences that can make or break your overall campaign. A B2B audience is industry-savvy, accustomed to being bombarded with information, and short on time. Businesses use social media differently from consumers, so this is also something to keep in mind straight away. Here are five differences to utilize in your favor.

1. B2B businesses use different social media networks.

Because B2B marketing involves long-term relationships building, a slightly different social media strategy is useful. While B2C companies flock to Facebook to reach a wider audience, B2B companies tend to gravitate towards LinkedIn instead as a way to network and establish connections. And it’s highly unlikely that you’d use newer, trendier social networks like Snapchat if you’re engaging in B2B marketing, because the demographic for this type of network is primarily composed of teenage consumers. This is not to say that B2B marketers don’t use Facebook as well, but often the best approach is a more varied one.

2. B2B marketing builds relationships.

While B2C marketing usually has the end goal of selling a product or service, B2B companies are often looking for ways to establish ongoing relationships. Although a sale may be made at some point, in the meantime B2B marketing is focussed more on generating leads that could lead to a fruitful relationship. Marketing efforts begin with generating leads, and then work on keeping up this relationship through email marketing, blogging, and other strategies. It’s about building trust through sharing information with your contacts, which can be accomplished with social media as well. This allows you to communicate with your contacts for a more mutually beneficial relationship.

3. Businesses want facts.

You might be able to build a B2C marketing campaign on tweets and videos that merely entertain, but for B2B marketing it’s important to also inform. Business buyers are already industry-savvy, and they want new information that will help grow their own companies. They are driven more by facts and logic than typical advertising strategies, so keep this in mind as you build an online media campaign. Use infographics, factual links, and statistical reports to back up your claims and you’ll soon garner more attention. As part of your campaign, you’ll probably want to create an industry blog that’s regularly updated with highly specific information of interest to other savvy professionals.

4. B2B content is more specific and industry-driven.

When sharing or writing content for a B2C audience, it’s often recommended to keep it short, humorous, and catchy to appeal to the broadest possible audience. For B2B marketing, more detailed, lengthy content can be used to appeal to show off your expertise, inform, and inspire. You can always brush up on your skills with these small business courses  for inspiration of your own, to see what kind of content would be best for a business audience.

Bear in mind that B2B clients get a lot of marketing materials thrown their way, much of which is quite long-winded and repetitive. Although you can (and should) be more detailed with your content, at the same time you also need to keep it entertaining. Use bullet points, short sentences, and subheadings to break up the material and keep it digestible, particularly if you’re writing it for an online audience. You should always go into it with some sort of question in mind. What information is your audience seeking? Give this to them without fluff, in a clear, specific, and industry-driven style.

5. PR may not be as high of a priority.

While online public relations is an integral part of B2C marketing, it’s not quite as high of a priority for a B2B audience. You can still strive to get mentions in industry publications and blogs that your target audience is reading, however. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to formulate some sort of strategy for media coverage, whether that’s communicating with journalists, arranging interviews, or writing advertorials. Public relations for B2B audiences should include regular surveillance of industry-related media outlets, from trade publications to popular online blogs.

Similarities in B2B and B2C Marketing

At the same time, there are a number of similarities to think about. Your overall objective is most likely the same, that is, to sell a product or service. With that in mind, one of the first similarities between marketing approaches is the need to match your product or service with the needs of a specific target or demographic. Whether that’s a consumer demographic or other businesses, the basic objective remains the same. Another strategy that can be utilized across both types of businesses is the ability to create realistic price points for your services or products, ensuring that they’re in line with what the rest of the market is doing. You’ll need to research your competition and market carefully, in other words, to set a basic price for your products that is realistic and competitive. And you’ll need to demonstrate value to your audience, no matter who that audience may be. This involves some sort of marketing or advertising initiative.

As a result of these similarities, email marketing, social networking, and search engine marketing are all important components of both B2C and B2B marketing. However, by keeping the differences in mind at the same time you can use new strategies within these confines to help your B2B campaign to meet more efficient, highly targeted goals.