You are here

The key difference in strategies for B2B and B2C marketing

Unfortunately, some marketers don't have a clue, when asked about the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. “We’re all people in the end. So if you can sell to one, then you can sell to the other.” And to a certain extent, that is true. We are all people. So are Republicans and Democrats, however, and yet they can barely agree on anything. 

Culture makes a lot of difference to how we see the world. And if you don’t take that into consideration when planning your marketing strategy you might just find the strategy that worked in one place blowing up in your face in another.

They have entirely different drivers

The first thing to consider when thinking about B2B and B2C marketing is that the two groups are motivated by different internal forces. Where consumers are driven by desires, such as status, hunger, want and need, businesses are often motivated by more rational considerations, such as utility, price and business relationships. This means that you’ve got to approach the two groups in different ways.

For example, quite often the consumer will be more interested in the casing and the associated image than the actual content (think iPhones and android phones). Nowadays people buy labels just as much to make a statement as to get the best product. In effect, they’re buying a lifestyle. This is rarely the case for businesses. Of course, people here too want to look good and like they’ve got it all sorted out, but that’s far more likely to be accomplished by getting the best product in terms of usefulness and the deal that was struck.

It also means that what people are after pre-sale is quite different. When people hit a B2C website, they’re after entertainment, satisfaction and self-actualization. They want the website and the product to feel connected to them. The only other people they’re worried about are their friends, colleagues and family and what they’ll think of the purchase.

With businesses, it’s nothing like that. They’ve got competitors, the bottom line and the market to worry about. This means that often they want far more and a completely different kind of information than consumers is after. Businesses, in other words, are far more likely to read the small print.

And so that completely alters the layout of your websites. With B2C, for example, a minimalist page with almost no information but created by a fantastic visual designer will cut it. That won’t work in B2B. There the design will matter only in so far as it makes it easy to get to the information about the different products and the different contract options.

The size of the sale and the relationship are different

The next thing to realize is that businesses and individuals shop entirely differently due to their purchasing power. What consumers will do to get a good deal is shop around until they find a place where they price is lower. Then they’ll buy it there. That isn’t necessarily the case for a business. Most businesses realize that they’ve got serious clout and are willing to use it to drive a bargain. This means that the sales process is far more involved. It also means that each lead is far more important.

This needs to be reflected in your marketing. Where with consumers it will be sufficient to have a page where they can select the product they want, put in their credit card details and tell them when they’ll be home, that won’t be enough for businesses. They expect to be able to call, discuss, get back you, talk to management, tell you that your most recent offer wasn’t quite good enough, meet for lunch and then end up going with your competitor anyway.  

Therefore, you need to market differently

You can’t use the same marketing strategy. Consumers are after style, status, and entertainment. Often they’ll use peripheral processing. That means that if something is funny, some of them will buy your product. That doesn’t work with the business crowd. The want their questions answered. Will this product do what it’s supposed to do? Will it do it better than what your competitor is offering And what kind of deal will you give us if we buy 500 models? They want all the nitty gritty information and expect it to not only be available on your blog and your website but to be well written as well.

What they’ll also want to know is will you make them feels special. And that is something that you need to work much harder to accomplish, since if they go into the sea with you, you’ll be out together for a long time, seeing as relationships last far longer (potentially years) in B2B than in B2C.

So what does that mean?

In effect – and this might sound completely counterintuitive, but that doesn’t make it less true – B2B marketing needs a far more personal touch than B2C does. It isn’t all about nice layouts, good graphics, and pretty pages. Nor is it about getting a design team to spend longer deciding how something will look than what it will do. B2B is far more relationship driven. It’s more about creating a bond, making them feel that they can trust you and that all the information that they need is readily available. 

And this continues for far longer than with B2B as companies have far more people involved in the decision-making process. This means that sales can take weeks to accomplish if the layout is big enough. And each step of the way the marketing has to be on the ball, with the right websites, the right pamphlets, the right information and the right personal touch. One screw up can be devastating as customers are often far more important in B2B than B2C.

There is a reason they call it ‘corporate culture’. It’s because the business world is the world apart. And you don’t just need to know the jargon, but you also need to know its rules if you’re going to get ahead. Otherwise, instead of hanging out with the big boys you’ll find yourself relegated to the kids table.