At its core, marketing is about getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Depending on one’s audience and context, there are distinct differences in how one goes about doing this. While the mission (sales!) never wavers, strategy, or how we go about accomplishing that goal, can change entirely in different situations. This is the point where B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) hit a distinct fork in the road. Their different audiences and contexts require different messages, channels, and relationships. This article will explore the differences between B2B and B2C, as well as give tips to make you an expert at both.
First, let’s look closer at the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. Take a minute and consider presenting to a full classroom. How would you prepare? Consider how you would present your information and even the level and pace your voice would need to be. Now, image instead of one classroom, there are 10 classrooms, and each one has a team captain. Your next presentations will be to each of these captains individually, and they will then carry the message back to their respective rooms. How would you prepare now? Undoubtedly, your presentation format would change, and so would the words, pace, and tone you use. You would even take questions and interact very differently. While your core material for the classroom and the classroom captains would be the same, it would look and sound much different, wouldn’t it? That’s because you know, instinctively, that in order for your audience to successfully absorb your message, you would need to cater to them very differently.
There is an art and a science to tailoring your communication to an audience, whatever the size and situation. A person buying a product for themselves versus buying for their company is a very different emotional and intellectual experience. In each context, purchasing is a very different process to engage in altogether. In order to be successful at each process, we need to embrace the differences.
Voice + Tone
Let’s go back to the analogy of speaking to a classroom of people versus an individual representative of the classroom. When you’re speaking to a classroom, you will innately be louder and more direct, just as you would need to be in B2C marketing. You may need to be disruptive to get their attention at first, but as time goes on, they’ll get to know you and trust your word.
On the flip side of things, as you build a relationship with a CIO, you’ll learn that emails with third party content are best for him/her, and eventually s/he’ll trust you and want to purchase from you. If you’re trying to build a relationship with a consumer, you will need a memorable disruption. Do you remember the “Make 7 Up Yours” commercials? They were a little risqué, but extremely catchy, and because they were directed at consumers, that was okay.
When marketing to a business, you’ll want to match their tone and keep things professional, incorporating industry speak and jargon. While you can be friendly and funny as appropriate, you really want to present yourself as an expert who possesses industry knowledge that the buyer can learn from. The more a business sees you as an expert in the field, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you.
Relationship + Timing
That brings us to the next piece, which is relationship. Generally, B2B relationships (i.e. sales cycles) take longer than B2C to come to fruition (close). When businesses are buying something, let’s say a hybrid cloud system, they’re going to likely be spending a fair amount of money. This isn’t the type of decision that can be made quickly or on a whim, so as we talked about earlier, you need to build a rapport and be realistic about how long it will take for a business to trust you.
Getting down to a granular level, businesses trust you more when you, as the marketer, have a personal brand. By positioning not only your company, but yourself, as an expert, you’re building brand awareness and laying a great foundation for a relationship. Just as you would communicate differently to a classroom and a classroom representative, the way you would build a relationship with one person, versus an organization, is different. It requires different channels. In marketing, you want to use the channels that speak best to your audience. Consumers tend to use social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook to help aid with buying decisions. Business professionals are much more influenced by social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, where they can see what their peers are doing and listen to those they consider experts.
Goal + Outcome
The final marketing element we’ll discuss will be the end goal. Typically, with both consumers and businesses, the goal of marketing is similar: drive revenue, but the way that businesses get there is quite different than with consumers. With consumers, the price of what they’re purchasing is generally lower, and the buying cycles tends to be shorter. Businesses may not move as quickly as consumers when they purchase, and they usually use different channels to make their decisions, but when they do make a purchase, it’s usually for a lot more money. Because the process to make a high-dollar purchase is more tedious, businesses tend to be more loyal. While it may take longer to show a business that you’re an expert, the outcome is typically an ongoing relationship.
We hope this article has helped you understand not only the differences in B2B vs B2C marketing, but also provided you with some tips on how to tailor your marketing to your audience. Let us know if you have anything to add.
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