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15 Major Differences Between B2C vs B2B Marketing

Topics: B2B eCommerce, B2B Sales, Management, Sales & Marketing

Marketers are often bombarded by different ideas, strategies, tactics, tools, and software that claim to help them do their job more effectively. How can you tell what will really work for you?

Many strategies are designed for either B2C or B2B marketers to address their very different needs, priorities, and challenges. The first step is to understand the differences between B2C and B2B marketing so you can select the right tools for the job:

B2C vs B2B Marketing

1. Simple Copy vs. Industry-Specific Terms

Copy geared toward consumers typically need to be relatable and written in simpler language. On the other hand, marketers can use industry-specific terms sparingly in B2B copy to enhance readability. These "jargons" may not appeal to the layperson but can act as a shorthand to communicate with the ideal customers so marketers can create in-depth content without being too wordy.

2. Emotions vs. Logic

While B2C marketing often targets the emotional triggers of consumers, B2B buyers have to "make a case" for their choice of vendor. B2B marketing needs to appeal to the rational or logical drivers since buyers often need to obtain consent from multiple stakeholders before a purchase is made. As such, B2B marketing materials should be backed with logic, financial benefits, and strong data.

3. Entertainment vs. Education

While consumers seek deals and entertainment, B2B buyers want to perform at work and get recognition for their achievements. To gain trust and build relationships with B2B buyers, vendors need to position themselves as a partner by sharing timely and relevant information to help their customers excel in their jobs and careers.

4. Briefness vs. Details

Consumers seek content that is entertaining and easy to digest. They want useful and shareable content instead of a lot of details so the B2C marketing message tends to be brief and benefits-driven. A B2B audience is used to being catered by sales and marketing professionals who offer detailed descriptions of products or services, as well as technical specs. It's important for B2B marketers to link features and specs to benefits in their marketing communications so the audience has the necessary information for making a decision.

5. Punchy Sound Bites vs. Long Form Content

Short and snappy copy captures the attention of a B2C audience and leads to conversion, especially when promoting a low-priced product. On the other hand, B2B content needs to be longer and offer more details to position the brand's expertise, earn the trust of the audience, and provide the appropriate information that corresponds to the readers' customer journey.

B2B customer journeyImage source

6. Brand Loyalty vs. Relationship

A loyal B2C audience doesn't necessarily want to cultivate a close relationship with a brand. They could simply follow a brand, share content, and make a purchase once in a while. B2B marketers, however, need to cultivate close relationships with multiple buyers within an organization by providing value and staying in contact to stay top of mind and reinforce trust.

7. Single Decision Maker vs. Chain Of Command

The sales cycle for B2C and B2B can be vastly different. Consumers often make much faster decisions. They may do some research, ask their friends, and read some reviews and testimonials but it takes much less time compared to a B2B purchasing process, which can involve procurement, accounting, reviews by different stakeholders, and approval by multiple decision makers.

B2B vs B2B purchase cycleImage source

8. Status vs. Recognition 

Many consumers purchase a product to help them make a statement or elevate their social status so B2C marketers need to incorporate such social influence in their messaging. Meanwhile, B2B customers are driven by a different motive. They make decisions based on not only how a product or service can benefit the organization but also whether it can help them get things done more effectively, excel in their jobs, and make progress in their careers. 

9. Instant Gratification vs. Relationship Nurturing

B2C buyers often purchase for immediate needs. They can make a decision within just a few minutes, get their problem solved, and be on their way. Therefore marketing message for many B2C products or services emphasizes instant gratification, convenience, and ease of use. B2B purchases, on the other hand, have much longer buying cycles and require more efforts on the merchant's part to nurture relationships by catering to the needs of multiple stakeholders involved in the purchasing process.

10. One-Time vs. Long-Term Relationship

Unlike consumer products, B2B purchases are often contract-based. The relationship can last for months or even years, making the impact of a buying decision more significant. While B2C marketers tend to spend more time and effort in finding new markets or distribution channels, B2B marketers focus on building long-term relationships with customers, which will lead to renewed contract and larger purchase volume

11. Making a Splash vs. Playing the Long Game

Many consumer products base their marketing on novelty and excitement. It's not uncommon to invest a large advertising budget on "making a splash." B2B marketers tend to focus on the "long game," using inbound and content marketing strategies to establish connections and retain relationships with customers.

12. Attention Grabbing vs. Attention Retaining

Consumers have fleeting attention spans. They're often unwilling to spend a lot of time and attention on a piece of content while shopping. B2C marketers need to create marketing materials that can immediately capture attention and get consumers to make a quick purchasing decision. On the other hand, B2B buyers are willing to spend time on understanding the details of a product or service. Marketing materials should be designed to retain the audience's attention with relevant content that can educate them and assist them in their decision-making.

13. Brand Awareness vs. Customer Satisfaction & Retention

Most B2C marketers focus their efforts on generating brand awareness while the majority of B2B marketers put more resources on prioritizing customer satisfaction and retention because each account or customer represents a sizable revenue over a longer term. The longer sales cycle in B2B marketing also means more resources are invested by the vendor to sign a client or win a contract. Losing one customer typically has a higher impact on a B2B than a B2C business.

14. Quick & Easy vs. Options & Complexity

Consumers want simplicity and ease of use. A complicated user experience will have a significant impact on conversion. On the other hand, B2B customers are more willing to go through a longer process so they can set up an account with different users to take advantage of features such as personalization based on each employee's role and approved budgets. In addition, B2B eCommerce and offline buyers often want more options in processing payment, e.g. using extended credit, that will require an involved process to set up.

15. Broad Segmentation vs. Hyper-Personalization

B2C marketers often target several broad and large "lifestyle" segments, e.g. "millennial moms" or "sandwich generation." B2B marketers are more likely to use predictive analytics that allows them to construct highly detailed individual customer profiles that help them create personalized offers for each customer.

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