Strategies and Differences in B2B vs B2C Marketing
Ever heard of B2B and B2C? You should if you’re a marketer trying to reach your target audience more effectively!
B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing are two approaches that can help you here. However, one shouldn’t trade one for the other haphazardly.
The two are aimed at different target audiences, so they use different tactics. That said, it’s possible to have a business using both B2B and B2C marketing components.
Understanding the difference between them is crucial to a high-performing marketing strategy. Want to learn more?
In this blog post, we'll delve into the strategies and differences between B2B and B2C marketing! Let’s start by answering what is B2B and B2C.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing refers to the marketing of products or services from one business to another.
The primary goal of B2B marketing is to generate leads and build relationships with other businesses that will result in long-term business partnerships.
Examples of products that usually require B2B marketing would be enterprise or commercial solutions. Software like point-of-sale systems or enterprise resource planning programmes are B2B products.
Individuals don’t buy things like these for personal use. Rather, they’re meant for businesses or business owners, and are often used company-wide.
What is B2C marketing?
On the other hand, B2C marketing refers to the marketing of products or services directly to individual consumers. It’s focused on the needs and interests of – in some senses – the average man on the street.
B2C is about everyday buyers. Video game publishers, for instance, sell copies of their game to individual players. Contrast that to the software examples we gave for B2B earlier.
Other examples of B2C products would be common consumer goods like chocolates, toothpaste, and even pet food.
The businesses selling these aren’t generally targeting companies that will buy the goods and deploy them company-wide. Instead, their main target audience is made up of individuals who will use these goods in their homes or in everyday life!
What is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?
Something to remember is that B2B and B2C can intersect at times. In fact, some businesses might have both B2B and B2C initiatives.
Microsoft, for instance, does both B2B and B2C for one of its most famous products: the Windows OS. There are versions of it for both professional and home users. Furthermore, both business owners and individuals are among its target consumers.
So, how can we better understand the distinction between the two? How do you know which one to use when tailoring your marketing strategies for best results?
1. Target Audience
The primary difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the target audience, so that’s one of the easiest ways to tell which you should be using.
B2B marketing targets other businesses, which makes it a bit more niche. Meanwhile, B2C marketing targets individual consumers.
Ask yourself who’s buying your product or whom it’s really for. Is it for business owners who need it to solve a company problem? Or is it mainly for individuals as the solution to a personal need?
2. Sales Cycle
When it comes to the buying cycle, the time it takes for a consumer to buy is often dramatically shorter than the time it takes for a business to buy.
This is because when a regular consumer buys stuff, he does so with far fewer decision-makers or stakeholders than a business would involve.
The person buying your brand’s toothpaste in the supermarket doesn’t need to have a board-meeting, ROI assessment, or call with Accounting before buying it. He usually just makes the decision on his own and buys it.
The sales cycle for B2B marketing is typically longer and more complex. B2B customers usually take more time to make decisions and involve multiple stakeholders in the decision-making process.
To be fair, it’s partly because B2B purchases are generally bigger investments than B2C ones. A B2C buyer for Microsoft’s Windows OS generally just buys one product key for it, for one PC.
A B2B buyer, though? He’s looking for an OS that will go on possibly hundreds of PCs. His costs are thus going to be exponentially higher too than the B2C consumer’s costs.
It’s also worth remembering that B2B generally involves more long-term goals than B2C – this means it naturally has a longer sales cycle than B2C.
3. Branding and Positioning
Branding and positioning play a crucial role in both B2B and B2C marketing.
The simplest way to put the difference is that in B2B marketing, branding is more focused on positioning, while in B2C marketing, it’s more about messaging.
The typical branding and positioning strategy for B2B marketing focuses on building a reputation for expertise, quality, and reliability. So, a B2B business will try to position itself in the market to build a reputation that will help drive brand recognition and lead generation.
B2C marketing is usually more focused on building a connection instead. The idea is to touch customers through emotional appeal and brand loyalty, which is best achieved with messaging, not positioning.
So, B2C is more focused on clearly delivering credible messages and creating motivational copy that resonates with the customer.
4. Messaging and Tone
A B2B audience also prefers somewhat different messaging from a B2C audience.
That’s why you’ll see the messaging and tone used in B2B and B2C marketing differing quite a bit.
B2B marketing is typically more formal and focused on product features, benefits, and ROI. Meanwhile, B2C marketing is often emotional, aspirational, and focused on lifestyle and brand identity.
This relates to what we said before – B2B is about positioning the brand whereas B2C is about connecting with the buyer through messaging.
Hence, in B2B marketing, ad copy tends to use more complex or industry-specific terms. It uses words other businesses or professionals are familiar with, to demonstrate that position of authority and dependability.
Meanwhile, in B2C marketing, ad copy is often more playful and emotional. Terms are more casual or relatable to the average person on the street.
You can see a lot of this in social media marketing, as most of it is B2C. That said, social media can be used for B2B too, particularly in the case of LinkedIn.
5. Customer Relationships
B2B marketing and lead generation focuses on building strong client relationships that drive long-term business. So, relationship-building in B2B marketing, especially during the buying cycle, is crucial.
But as we mentioned earlier, B2C generally has shorter sales cycles and short-term goals in mind. This is why B2C marketing, by comparison, builds transactional relationships.
The goal of B2C marketing is to push consumers to products on your company’s website and drive sales quickly. To do this, the customer needs to have a good customer experience with your website, for instance.
To be sure, B2C still does have an element of relationship-building, especially in funnels that encourage consumer loyalty and advocacy. Still, it’s arguably less concerned with building long-term partnerships compared to B2B.
6. Marketing Channels
The main marketing channels used in B2B and B2C marketing are a bit different, even if they can sometimes overlap.
For example, B2B marketing often relies on personal selling, trade shows, and professional networks.
As for B2C marketing, it often uses mass media advertising, social media, and influencer marketing.
As for social media platform selection, B2B marketers generally use LinkedIn to connect with decision-makers and share thought-leadership content.
B2C marketers, on the other hand, are more likely to use platforms like Instagram and TikTok to create visually appealing content and build brand awareness with consumers.
7. Content Types
The types of content used in B2B and B2C marketing also differ. B2B marketing often uses case studies, whitepapers, and thought-leadership content. In other words, data-driven, often analytical content that lays out clear benefits for things like the marketer’s product.
Meanwhile, B2C marketing uses social media posts, videos, and user-generated content. It’s less about the numbers and more about emotional appeal and entertainment.
If you want more advice on picking the right type or even formulating the ideal content for your marketing needs, by the way, check out our guide to content marketing this year! It can help you figure out the best tack to take for your business.
In B2B marketing, B2B businesses strive to maintain open communication in the decision-making process. This ties right back into what we said about B2B targets taking longer and needing more stakeholders’ input before they buy.
During the decision-making process, B2B customers must evaluate the company or their individual worker’s needs. That’s why there’s a lot of guidance or assistance here from companies selling B2B products – they want to provide all the target needs to make a decision.
B2C marketing is faster, with a bit less hand-holding through the decision-making process. Here, businesses strive to make the process as quick and easy as possible for the buyer.
Whether for B2B or B2C, though, understanding your audience remains vital. It can help you understand the decision-making process that may apply to your targets.
9. Metrics and Measurements
You will look at different kinds of metrics and measurement to track results for both B2B and B2C marketing.
B2B marketing often focuses on metrics like ROI, lead generation, pipeline, and sales revenue, for example. Meanwhile, B2C marketing often focuses on engagement, reach, and brand awareness.
This is affected by the other differences we’ve already mentioned. For instance, it’s only natural for B2C marketers to be more concerned with engagement than B2B ones, since a lot of the messaging in it is emotional.
Should you use B2B or B2C for your marketing?
The notes above should already help you figure out which of the two approaches is better for your specific situation and target audience. But there may still be cases when you need experts to identify the better approach for your situation.
If that’s the case for you – or if you just need help formulating the right strategy to reach your audience – reach out to us. We can help you identify the best approach for your situation.
Contact us for a chat for your digital marketing needs anytime!