In a world where marketing messages are everywhere, from our phones’ screens to the local bus station, we really have to learn how to make it attention-grabing.
Even if you are a B2B or a B2C company, the story you pass over to your clients is crucial. Your marketing strategy needs to be adapted depending on the people you are addressing to.
That is why today we’re going to look into B2B vs B2C marketing differences and strategies, to make a clear distinction between the two.
We’ll also look at the similarities between B2B vs B2C companies, having in mind how to keep your clients interested at all times.
B2B vs B2C Marketing
1. What is B2B vs B2C marketing
2. Differences between B2B vs B2C marketing
- 2.1. Buying cycle
- 2.2. Motivation
- 2.3. Evaluation
- 2.4. Target audience
- 2.5. Communication
- 2.6. Content and advertising
- 2.7. Decision-making users
3. Similarities between B2B vs B2C marketing
4. B2B vs B2C marketing strategies
1. What is B2B vs B2C marketing
What is B2B marketing
B2B (Business-to-Business) marketing refers to a company’s activities to market a service or a product to another company, in order to establish a fruitful connection, with positive outcomes for both parties.
For B2B’s, the target is to sell their services or products to other businesses.
B2B marketing relies on the ROI that the purchase can deliver for the buying company and the goals that the company will reach due to the purchase.
In this case, B2B companies are more determined in increasing lead generation, when they want to be noticed and trigger customers’ interest.
In the purchasing decision with a B2B company, there is little to no emotion involved.
Our friend, Amanda Webb, who is a top social media expert, told us some insights regarding B2B vs B2C marketing:
Learn from your data by asking questions. When you dive into analytics you're swimming in a sea of data. What do you need to look at? What's important? What's not?
Asking the right questions can make it easier to navigate your data and find what you're looking for.
This is particularly important for B2B when your sales process is longer.
For example, can you find the data that will tell you:
Which social media channel drives the most leads?
Where do my best quality leads come from?
Do people read articles on my website before making an enquiry?
When people visit my home page, which page do they navigate to next?
Armed with this information you can make better decisions about your online marketing and improve ROI.
The company that buys from you may not be price-sensitive and the product or service is complex and of great value.
That is why for some marketers it can become tricky to figure out who the decision-makers from other companies are and how to operate in order to convince them to buy.
The idea of not being pushy and having non-salesy messages and posts on social media still remains a great trick to use.
What is B2C marketing
B2C (Business-to-Customer) marketing relies on a company’s activities to market a service or a product to a consumer (not a company), in order to satisfy their needs.
Mainly, your clients will buy products from you for their personal use. And we all know that consumers are influenced by emotions, their buying intention is driven by beautifully crafted-stories, making subjective decisions.
Our friend, Dorien Morin van Dam, who is a skilled social media expert shared her thoughts on B2B vs B2C marketing with us:
B2B marketing starts with understanding your audience. Now while this applies to B2C marketing as well, it is much easier to create an avatar of a consumer than it is to create an avatar of a business.
Develop an avatar: do not just write down who they are. Instead, find out how your product or service will benefit them. Know their pain points. Answer: what will make them click, what will make them buy, and most importantly, what will keep them coming back for more services and product?
Understanding your audience and their uniqueness is the first step to creating the exact content your audience is looking for!
In this case, you should know that consumers are not there to sign an yearly plan with you and that they may not have a long-lasting relationship with your products and services.
2. Differences between B2B vs B2C marketinng
Since we have broadly looked at what is B2B marketing and what is B2C marketing, we are ready to get even more in-depth insights to understand why differences really matter.
2.1. Buying cycle
As a B2B company, when you sell a product or service, it is clear that the cost can be even bigger than the one used by a B2C brand.
If a company wants to buy from you, they will immediately find out that they can get a monthly, quarterly or yearly plan, accustomed to their needs.
In case a consumer comes to you, asking for your service, you can offer it right on spot and then every time the customer comes back for more.
However, there may not be a regularity pattern here.
Maybe this month you sell 10 beauty products to the same person and that customer is going to come back for more in 4 months, after they finish their supplies.
Or maybe they are going to buy similar products, maybe cheaper, from your competitor.
We don’t want to say that it’s more insecure to have a B2C business. We only wanna highlight the fact that the buying cycles of clients for B2B vs B2C can be so distinctive.
For B2B marketing, the products you sell are more complex, prices are automatically higher and the decision to buy is taken by a team specialised on this, where someone from the finance department is also involved.
For B2C marketing, there’s only one buyer who doesn’t have to go through a lot of processes until the order is complete. They may not even need to ask for an expert’s opinion.
B2B marketing drives businesses to put effort into developing a smooth buying process, that is efficient and saves both time and money.
This is the reason why a B2B sale relies more on logic, compared to a B2C sale that is emotion-driven.
Therefore, when it comes to motivation, for B2B vs B2C marketing it's very different.
While the first one focuses on developing an efficient process, the later focuses on winning over a customer’s heart with their story.
When you sell a product or service to a company (B2B), their purpose is to see how the service or product they’ve bought brings advantages to their company, like increased ROI. The client gets long-term results.
For B2C marketing, things are a little bit different. The consumer only wants to use that service or product in their favour, paying more attention to how it can bring them direct benefits. The client gets immediat results.
2.4. Target audience
The target audience for B2B vs B2C marketing is quite different. For B2B marketing, your target audience includes companies that may benefit from your services and products, and maybe even recommend you to other businesses.
For B2C marketing, your target audience features consumers who showed an interest in the products you sell.
Maybe they searched on Instagram “best lip balms” or they have already scrolled your products on your website.
In the marketing's concrete jungle, knowing your audience is crucial.
For B2B customers, you will learn what makes the difference between every company you work with and how to market your products to every one of them.
Your purpose should be to target decision-makers in the companies that could really use your services or products.
Make sure you show them customer stories of satisfied clients who recommend you, and share some insightful studies that prove you are a good fit for them.
When it comes to B2C consumers, your main goal is to build trust. If the potential customer feels something when watching your posts on social media, you win.
You basically (almost) shook on it and they’re just deciding in what colour they should buy your product to suit their personality.
Post user-generated content and make sure you also screenshot some DMs from your clients and brag about it on Stories.
Yes, you are allowed. This is what will keep the customers coming and convince the prospects.
It takes little effort to accomplish something so big and so important for your clients.
Just consider taking your time to find out who your audience is, regardless of whether your are a B2B vs. B2C company.
We hear a lot about the fact that the way we talk to ourselves matters. Like it’s really important. Well, we cannot emphasize enough how important it’s your communication with others, especially clients.
Try to speak your audience’s language, even if you talk to decision-makers in big companies or to a new mom who is desperately trying to find a suitable crib for their baby.
It is obvious that you cannot talk to these two using the same language.
Pay attention to the choice of words and use a formal tone, if you are a B2B company.
In case you are a B2C business, you can use casual language. Otherwise, the person will not find that sense of familiarity and might feel disconnected.
B2B customers will buy from you only if they see you as a professional. You should be convincing, while also making use of the rational side of your interlocutor.
B2C consumers generally want to find relatable situations through your social media posts and figure out that your products would ease their lives.
You have to showcase your brand’s voice while also underlying the benefits that your products can bring.
2.6. Content and advertising
As a B2B company, when you post content meant for other companies, it is clear that the messages you convey need to maintain a professional tone.
On the other hand, for a B2C customer, you could easily experiment with more playful content.
The same it’s true for ads. For both types of customers, you need to make sure that the message suits the reader and meets their expectations.
In both cases it is better to avoid salesy content and do not, under no circumstance, make use of pushy notifications to determine B2B vs B2C customers to buy.
You should convince them through your tone of voice, your types of posts, the way you make them understand they need your products.
B2B content is generally more detailed and uptight, as if you’re wearing a suit, including a lot of insights related to service’s benefits and pricing plans.
For B2C customers, the type of content you use could be more relaxed and funny, like you’re wearing sweatpants and a lousy T-shirt.
What can convince B2B clients to buy from you is to make them feel important. Wondering how?
Well, you have to help them picture their lives after buying your product or service, showing them how you can ease certain processes for them.
Do you know what we’ll really impress them? Giving them numbers. If you tell your B2B clients how much time they will be saving after using your product or service, that can make them change their mind.
When it comes to content, make sure you send them well-researched, long articles that include a lot of details related to the topic they are worried about.
This way, by showing them that you have a solution, they will be more inclined to listen and they may even book a demo or ask for a trial.
You should consider those to be good signs, proving that your B2B marketing strategy is working. Make sure you engage with your B2B clients all the time, answering their queries.
When you want to ace your B2C marketing strategy, make sure you surprise your customers with something different than what’s on the market in your niche.
Generally, your B2C clients already know what they are looking for, but if you promise them a higher-quality product, a better price or the product they want with a twist, you got them.
People want to have items that bring both a sense of familiarity, but also one of uniqueness. If your product or service is basic, make sure you add a sparkle to it.
Your brand should be recognizable, while also coming up with something new all the time.
I know it sounds like solving 1000 x pieces’ puzzle, but if this is the price you have to pay to make B2C customers happy, then do it.
Instead of just paying for ads, consider a human-to-human approach to convince people they need your products.
2.7. Decision-making users
For B2B companies, interacting with decision-makers may be more like a process, a back-and-forth exchange of emails before the buying happens.
That specialised person has to go back to their team and inform them about the product they’ve found, what are the benefits and whether or not they really need it.
In the meantime, for B2C companies, it is clear that the buying process is a lot easier. They have to decide for themselves, without the need to get advice from others.
For B2C customers, it’s easier to make up their mind regarding a particular product they want to buy.
However, for both types of businesses, the decision-making process is crucial. You have to allow your prospects to compare your products and services with the ones of your competitors’ before making a decision.
For B2C buyers, the emotional connection is important since your customers will decide based on their emotions.
When the consumer identifies their need and you come up with the right product to satisfy that need, that’s when you both win. Your product needs to be top of mind for them.
For both B2B vs B2C buyers, make sure you have a conversion funnel on your website, including blog posts and product pages related to the topic your customers are interested in, in order to convince them to click that “add to cart” button.
3. Similarities between B2B vs B2C marketing
Now that we talked and talked about the differences between B2B vs B2C marketing, it is time to look at the similarities of these two. Yep, we can find some.
Relationship with customers
Develop a relationship with both your B2B buyers and B2C buyers. Knowing them is important. It’s basically the key to your next marketing strategy.
If you don’t know them, how can you ever satisfy them?
You never know when those companies will renew their yearly plan. And those consumers might recommend your products to their friends.
Make sure you pay attention to their needs and try to cater to them.
Another thing you have to carefully take into account is regarding the human-to-human experience.
Besides the fact that you have to help clients identify you by building your own voice, you have to show them that you are a human addressing another human and their problems.
B2B and B2C buyers will be more tempted to buy if they know that they can tell you their needs, trying to find a solution together. Being there when they need you is definitely a big plus.
For both B2B and B2C clients, it is crucial to post high-quality content that accounts for the values of your products and services.
It does not matter what you sell or to whom you are selling it. The really important part is knowing how to be there when your clients need you.
Customer service should be top of mind after starting your new brand’s campaign. People or companies who are interested will ask questions.
Make sure you answer them right away, be kind and always try to help. The outcome will be in your favour.
Remember that your B2B vs B2C business exists thanks to your customers, being them companies or individual consumers.
That is why the whole process of exposing your products and service should be customer-centric.
Authenticity and trust
You are unique. But who isn’t? You have to build trust with your unique brand, making prospects and customers understand that you got their back.
Credibility and authenticity sells. That is why, developing brand awareness through your social media posts can inspire viewers to follow you, interact with the posts and click the link to your website.
Making them curious through your business’ unique perspective is what will make them choose you in the detriment of your competitors.
Customer journey follow up
After they place the first order, in the case of B2C buyers, or set their first yearly plan, for B2B companies, you have to acknowledge that your connection with them does not end there.
There is where your efforts start bringing an outcome for your brand, but you have to do more.
By asking them regularly if they want an upgrade with the new features or maybe take advantage of a new promotion will keep them interested.
Your goal is to keep them aware of the fact that, with you, they can do better, look better, have better and be better at what they’re doing.
Do you know how often people are questioned about how they feel and how things are working out for them? Not often enough. This is where you step in and show your clients that you care, being ready to help.
4. B2B vs B2C marketing strategies
In terms of B2B vs B2C marketing strategies, there are a few that work for both types of services.
Since everyone is online nowadays, either on email or on social media, or even both, it is only fair to explore these possibilities to let people know you exist.
Social media marketing for B2B vs B2C
Social media marketing works wonders for both B2B vs B2C businesses.
Maybe not everyone has an account on all social media platforms, but they surely have a profile at least on one of them.
This is your brand’s time to shine. Make it stand out with cool social media posts, a lot of videos, lives, Q&As and product launch events.
On every social media platform, you should insist on producing more video content since this is what makes potential customers stay longer on your page.
Short, informative videos are the future. They can help prospects learn the basics about your brand and its mission, enough to make them click the link to your website.
Content marketing for B2B vs B2C
Besides your marketing campaigns on social media, you also have to build a solid content strategy with your team.
This will make you stick to a plan for your blog, while posting articles and studies according to users’ searches and needs, while subtly reminding them your brand can help them with that.
If B2C buyers are comfortable scrolling more on Instagram and TikTok and there is where they see your content, for B2B customers things may work differently.
B2B buyers tend to read a lot of data before making an important purchase. Moreover, they have to talk about it with their teams and get a lot of approvals.
Your content should not only turn heads and stop the world from spinning (yeah, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit), but also convince readers that you are better than your competition.
Email marketing for B2B vs B2C
When was the last time you got a really great newsletter? Well, if you haven’t got one in a while, maybe it’s time to build that great newsletter that is bound to conquer your audience.
Users who find out about your brand will probably sign up to get your weekly or monthly newsletter.
By then, they already know what kind of article you have on your blog and they’ll be interested to remain updated.
The key to email marketing is to make each and every one of your recipients feel special, like you designed that email just for them.
By making your audience feel special, you will also become important for them. Some of them will even set alarms, willing to read your newsletter with the latest updates you and your team have prepared.
What you send by email needs to stand out from the sea of other emails with promotions and newsletters.
This is the moment when you think about how to make a difference and write that newsletter that attracts everyone’s attention.
5. Can you be a B2B and B2C company at the same time?
The only way in which you can sell both to B2B vs B2C buyers is to have different marketing strategies for these two.
Otherwise, with the same content, newsletter and overall approach you won’t be able to reach the hearts and minds of both audiences.
The audiences for B2B vs B2C marketing are very different and you need to accustom the way you introduce your brand and market your goods to catch their eye.
With different approaches for these two types of audience, you will surely be able to sell services for big companies, due to your B2B marketing strategy, and products to individual buyers, due to your B2C marketing strategy.
It sounds like a lot, since your marketing team has to do double the job, but it may be worth it.
As a marketer, regardless of owning a B2B vs B2C company, you want to do what's best for your brand.
Paying attention to your audience's needs, helps you determine what your B2B vs B2C buyers are interested in.
It is clear that you need to play different games when it comes to these types of businesses.
By following the tips and tricks above to determine the differences and similarities, you will be able to establish a plan to stick to.
Hopefully this guide will help you design better B2B vs B2C marketing campaigns and attract more customers.