B2B vs B2C Marketing: What are the differences in strategies?

In the world of marketing, there are usually two main approaches that relate to how a business does business.

On one hand, you have B2C, which relates to any company that sells products/services to consumers. Therefore, business-to-consumer marketing is all about promoting your business to consumers. 

On the other hand, you have B2B, which is all about companies that sell products/services to other businesses. As such, business-to-business marketing focuses on promoting your brand to other business enterprises. 

Obviously, the overall premise behind B2B and B2C marketing is the same. You are still trying to develop a strategy that markets your business to your target audience. However, what a lot of companies don’t realise is that there are some significant differences in how the two strategies play out. If you have a business that deals in the B2B market, you will need to create a marketing campaign that’s specifically geared towards businesses. This may be remarkably different from a B2C marketing strategy

So, what are these differences? Here are some key things you need to know before formulating your marketing strategy:

B2B marketing is more about creating personal relationships

The relationship a business has with its customers is very important. However, in B2B marketing, the way you approach relationships is extremely different to B2C marketing. You see, a business that sells to other businesses will always be looking for longevity. You want customers that stick with you for a long time, trusting you as one of their suppliers. As a result, you have to focus on building personal relationships with each client. You get to know the customer, understand how their business works and learn how to connect with them on a deeper level. 

Conversely, B2C marketing isn’t focused on this as much. Instead, it’s more about connecting with your customers on a more basic level. Yes, your messages will relate to the consumer and be relevant to their likes and interests. You’re still intent on showing them how you can help them, but you’re not as focused on developing a deep and personal relationship with every consumer. This is largely because it’s not possible to create personal relationships with all of your customers as a B2C business. There are too many of them to fully personalize their experience through marketing. With a B2B business, your client pool is a lot smaller and the focus is on long-term contracts and loyalty, so it’s easier to build relationships.

B2B marketing has a more refined target customer

Arguably the biggest difference between B2B and B2C marketing lies in who the target customers are. Clearly, you already know that B2B targets businesses while B2C targets the general consumer market. However, things get even more refined when we look at B2B specifically. 

Targeting a business doesn’t mean you target the entire business. Instead, your target customer is more refined – you’re looking at one or two individuals within the company itself. For instance, you want to market your services to a manager or information technology officer – whoever is in charge of procuring products/services for that business. It doesn’t matter about marketing to the general workers; they don’t have a say in if a business buys something or not. You don’t even need to think about the end-user of your products/services, only the key decision-makers in the business. 

By contrast, B2C is much looser than this. You are targeting a general population of people, so the target consumer is less refined. As a result, the marketing strategies and campaigns end up completely different. Even if you have two products that are similar, the strategies used in B2B and B2C marketing will differ. You’d use different techniques to market software to a business than you would to the wider consumer market, for example. Consequently, it’s important that you know how to approach marketing depending on your target customer. This is why a lot of B2B businesses hire marketing consultants like Alex Croucher with expertise in B2B marketing. Alternatively, B2C businesses are more likely to hire general marketing agencies to help them reach their wider audience. 

B2B marketing relies on detailed information

The knock-on effect of a refined target customer means that B2B marketing is more focused on detailed information. Think about it, you are trying to reach the key decision-makers in a business. Thus, their purchasing decisions will have an impact on the entire organisation. If someone buys the wrong thing for a business, it can cost them lots of money and customers. Again, if we compare this to B2C marketing, there’s less risk involved for consumers. They aren’t making purchasing decisions on behalf of a greater entity. If they buy something and don’t like it, it’s a minor blip in their life and there’s no harm done. 

Therefore, B2B marketing is heavily reliant on detailed information. You will produce lots of content that dive into the specifics of your products/services. The aim is to let your target customer know exactly what you can do for them and the business. That’s the key: you want to focus on how your product will benefit the business, along with everything it can and can’t do. This gives key decision-makers more of an idea about what they’re buying. It makes them more informed and can convince them to make a purchase. There’s more logic involved in a B2B marketing strategy as you are clearly showcasing how you can solve a business’s problems and what they stand to gain from choosing you. 

B2C marketing has less of an emphasis on detailed information. Instead, it’s more about snippets and details that grab someone’s attention and convince them to make a purchase. If B2B is more logical, B2C is definitely a more emotional approach. You want to play on your target customer’s emotions to encourage them to buy things from you. For instance, you will often see long pieces of content that break down products/services for the B2B market, detailing everything a business decision-maker needs to know about something. Contrastingly, you rarely see things like this with B2C marketing – it’s more about quick pieces of information to draw someone in and get them to make a fast decision. 

B2B marketing is about ROI

Now, when you are creating both a B2B and B2C marketing strategy, you will be concerned about the return on your investment. You want your strategy to deliver good returns for YOU. 

But, there is also the ROI from the perspective of your customer. In B2C marketing, this basically doesn’t exist. A consumer will not be that bothered about what they gain from buying something from you. Instead, they’re more interested in the short-term benefits or getting a good bargain. Here, you focus on marketing the product/service with a focus on all of its cool parts – things a consumer is going to be interested in

Compare this to B2B marketing, and it’s entirely different. 

B2B is all about the return on investment for the customer. Essentially, this is one reason why detailed content and information is so important. You’re breaking things down and can show the customer exactly how the product will benefit the business, concluding with what they will get in return. A business needs to know if something will generate a good ROI or not. So, many B2B campaigns take information from previous customer purchases to provide actual ROI figures. If you see that your customers see an average ROI of a certain amount after buying your product, advertise this! Make it one of the first things someone sees when they engage with your marketing content. Draw them in with the ROI, and they’ll stay around to learn more information. 

Ultimately, a business wants to get as much out of every purchase it makes. If they know they are going to generate a positive ROI from working with you, they’re more likely to spend their money and stick around for a long time. 

B2B marketing takes more time

Finally, the last difference between the two marketing approaches is that B2B marketing tends to be much longer. A business is unlikely to make a snap decision when purchasing something. There’s a lengthy process where the decision-makers line up possible suppliers, compare everything on offer, then consult with people above them. It means the entire marketing process is longer because you have to focus on slowly convincing a business that you’re the best option around. 

B2C marketing differs in that it’s much faster. Consumers make snap decisions all the time – they can literally see an advert on Instagram and buy something right away! 

To summarise, B2B and B2C marketing are two different approaches that require different strategies. B2B is a slower process that focuses on long-form content that’s packed full of information revolving around the benefits the product/service can provide to a business. It’s way more logical than B2C marketing that’s quicker and more focused on provoking emotions from customers. 

The bottom line is that you understand how to tailor your marketing strategy depending on your target customers. Otherwise, you could end up wasting a lot of money without generating any leads or sales.