In the world of marketing, the vast majority of all companies will fall into one of two distinct categories: B2B and B2C. B2B is an acronym that stands for “business-to-business”, meaning that one professional organization is selling their products and/or services directly to another. B2C, on the other hand, stands for “business-to-consumer” – meaning that you’re marketing your products and services directly to your own end users without another professional organization in the middle.
These are two entirely different worlds – nobody is saying they aren’t. However, there ARE certainly things you can learn from effective B2B marketing practices that can be applied into your own B2C efforts with the right slant.
The “Differences” in B2B versus B2C
Below are some of the differences that most people agree separate B2B and B2C marketing efforts:
- B2C tends to be much more product-driven, whereas B2B tends to be much more relationship driven.
- B2C tends to target a larger market, as B2B marketing may be aimed at just one or two other companies.
- In B2C, brand identity is often created via repetition and imagery to help create a more emotional buying decision. In B2B, brand identity is created on the back of a personal relationship in order to lead to a more rational buying decision.
Yes, these are differences – but do they really have to be?
Emotion is important in B2C, but what is more emotional than the excitement you get when you realize you’re making the most rational decision possible with your hard-earned money? That a particular product is great and cool AND the right move to make at the right time?
Likewise, how would it hurt if you narrowed your focus in B2C down to smaller, segmented markets as opposed to one large one? The answer is simple: it wouldn’t. It would only make them stronger.
Understand That This Is an Active Process
Perhaps the most important lesson you can take away from B2B marketing to make your B2C efforts even more effective, however, has to do with the difference between active and reactive marketing.
Far too many B2C marketers fall into the trap of chasing trends instead of paying attention to where things are going and setting trends of their own. B2C marketers often take a look at the marketplace today, learn as much as they can about their audience today and create new and valuable content in response.
Their hearts are certainly in the right place, but this is only going to carry you so far.
B2B marketers, however, have to be much more proactive than that because the conditions they’re operating in are constantly changing. When a particular need is met with a company, it’s usually met for the year. This means that they can’t simply rely on moving from one big customer to the next because the playing field is so much more limited by its nature.
Likewise, the variables that they’re dealing with are constantly changing. It’s easy to talk a B2C customer into coming down off the fence and making a sale if you know what you’re doing. If the B2B customer with purchasing power has already exceeded his budget for the year, on the other hand, you’re out of luck – end of story.
Likewise, what if that B2B contact that you’ve relied on so heavily changes jobs or gets promoted and now you’re suddenly dealing with a fresh new face who isn’t buying what you’re selling? These are the things that B2B marketers have to deal with on a daily basis.
So the solution to all of this is simple: you need to be as reactive as you possibly can. Stop marketing to where your audience currently is and start marketing to where it looks like they might be going, instead.
When you sit down with a tool like Visme (which, just for the sake of full disclosure, I am a founder of) to come up with your next great presentation and Infographic, think about where you need to be in six months time to accomplish your goals. Then, think about the content that your audience would need to have access to in order to move farther down the purchasing tunnel towards that eventual “destination.”
Think about what piece of content a buyer would need in five weeks to move from one stage of the funnel to the other. Then, create it today to make sure that it is ready and waiting when you need it.
In many ways, your website will be a great indication of how you’re doing in this regard. Use tools like this Website Grader to not only see how your site is performing in a general sense, but to see how it is doing in relation to the strategic objectives you’re trying to create. The aforementioned tool will even help suggest certain improvements you can make and actions you can take in that regard, making things even easier than ever before.
Re-Think Your Marketing Efforts
Yes, it’s true that B2B and B2C marketing are largely two completely different animals. The types of content you need to craft, as well as the language you need to use and even the tone you need to find, are different when you’re talking to a business professional versus an average Joe or Jane sitting in the comfort of their own home.
But conceptually, this is really where the difference ends. Selling is still selling and terrific marketing can still yield incredible results – which is why it makes perfect sense that you should always be looking to B2B marketers to see what you can adapt into your own B2C efforts to make them even stronger.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this together and by understanding what works in the world of B2B and why, you can unlock the type of valuable insight that you can apply back into your own efforts that will strengthen them for now and for all time.
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.