Advice about marketing in a business-to-business (B2B) industry is continually flowing through the web. There are tons of best practices and “how to” advice out there to help make sure that you get the most out of your marketing efforts. However, whether you are a rookie or a veteran to the online advertising world, you have probably noticed that many of the titled “best practices” are very similar to the best marketing practices in the business-to-consumer (B2C) industry. The fundamentals of both marketing tactics are the same: both want to keep the customers for as long as possible, both want to increase loyalty of customers, both want to increase the profitability of customers, etc. In other words, what are the differences, and do they really matter in the long run?
The answer is yes—the differences in marketing for B2B and B2C do matter. While the reason for marketing and the initial questions asked may be the same, these are two different industries; so marketing efforts must also be different. Consider a few of the basic differences:
|Target market is small and focused||Target market is large|
|Sales cycle long, multi-step buying process||Sales Cycle is short, one step buying process|
|Spurred by personal relationship||Spurred by product identity|
|Buying decisions based on business worth||Buying decisions based on emotions|
|Relationship is most important||Transaction is most important|
As you will notice, most of the major differences deal with differences in buyers and differences in the relationship between buyer and seller. Once you understand these differences, you will be able to market to these differences effectively. After all, if you are working for a B2B company you should not only be aware of these differences, but they should be at the forefront of your mind!
How These Differences Should Affect Marketing Strategies: Different Types of Buyers
While caring about the buyer is the goal of both B2B and B2C marketing, the buyers in each category are quite different. Everyone in business knows that understanding your buyer is crucial, so consider a few of the differences listed below if you’re working for a B2B company (especially if you used to work for a B2C company!):
- B2BBuyers—These buyers are knowledgeable and very interested in whatever it is you are trying to sell. Since these buyers likely understand most, if not all, aspects of your product or service, you will want to make sure you have your facts straight. In other words, do your research and be up to date on your latest competition as well as the latest trends. In addition, other businesses rely heavily on relationships when it comes to choosing a product or service. If you are knowledgeable about your product and can explain thoroughly why you are the right choice, a business will respond (even if you aren’t the most “popular” company out there).
- B2C Buyers—These buyers are not always very specific when it comes to what they want; they shop around for the best price and generally go with a brand that they know has a good name. In other words, B2C marketing needs to focus largely on customers’ loyalty as opposed to the nitty gritty specifics of your product or service. Brand identity is also much more important when it comes to these types of buyers. With consumers, the name is everything. If they know they have seen your brand somewhere before, chances are they are going to assume, to a certain extent, that you are as good as people say you are.
If you were to use some of the marketing techniques that are used with B2C companies, you would be missing out on great opportunities that can help optimize your marketing efforts. For example, knowing that your target audience is smaller in B2B marketing lets you look at your potential buyers and find out exactly how they are hoping to use your product or service. Without this important distinction made, your campaign would just look like any commercial on television or ad on the web.
In the end, the differences do matter. Before taking any kind of marketing advice, make sure you know the differences so you can evaluate which marketing tactics will work best for your company.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to voip phone systems. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including voip phones to small businesses and entrepreneurs at Business.com.