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The Key Differences Between Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) Marketing Strategies

B2B and B2C are commonplace terms in the business world. As a digital marketer, you recognize the types of business which fall into each category, but the crux of your role is tailoring marketing strategies to each audience and recognizing just how different your approach needs to be.

In simple terms, most B2B (business-to-business) marketing relies upon logical, process and business-driven decisions. B2C (business-to-customer) on the other hand, is much more emotive and purchase decisions can be driven by a mood, whim, or short-term desire, as well as logic. Of course, the two can and do overlap and there are plenty of instances where you may need to mix the two different types of approaches to deliver what’s best for your customer.

Understanding the differences in approach is essential for crafting and delivering the right marketing strategy for your target audience. Getting into the B2B or B2C mindset is essential for developing a marketing strategy guaranteed to perform and attract the right kinds of leads for your customers.

Below, we’re looking more closely at the differences between B2B and B2C thinking and how to tailor your strategy to suit the campaign at hand.

Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience

Harvard Business Review

Customer Relationships

How you approach and build customer relationships is the cornerstone of business success. The stronger the relationships, the higher the customer retention, and loyal customers are also much more likely to increase their spending. Your approach to relationships will differ with B2B and B2C customers as follows:

Build Personal Relationships with B2B Customers

Lead generation and marketing to B2B customers is focused on building strong personal relationships and developing long-term business. Relationship building, especially during the buying cycle, is crucial and essential to creating an environment that makes your B2B customer want to come and stay onboard.

Taking time to develop relationships with your B2B customers gives you more chances to prove your brand’s ethos, ethics, and what makes you tick. You want to align with other businesses on the same wavelength as you and connecting with your targeted audience well will set you and your client’s businesses apart from the competition.

72% of B2B buyers believe negative reviews give depth and insight into a product

G2Crowd

Interestingly, B2B business leads value honesty, trust and transparency higher than other values, even when it means showing the negative and less-than-perfect, as well as the good. G2Crowd found 72% of B2B buyers believe negative reviews give depth and insight into a product. Negative reviews can even boost business growth. Websites or companies displaying only positive reviews come across as fake and even untrustworthy, especially in the B2B market. Similarly, responding to negative reviews appropriately shows your business’ ability to adapt and deal with conflict.

89% of consumers consider reviews to be an essential resource when making purchase decisions

Power Reviews

97% of consumers consult product reviews

Power Reviews

Build Effective Financial Relationships with B2C Customers

B2C marketing is about driving consumers towards your product or service and increasing sales. Crafting a perfect, stress-free customer experience is key to this. B2C businesses need to operate quickly and efficiently, with no significant time needed to get to know the individual customer before the purchase. This creates a mainly transactional or financial relationship between your business and the customer.

Reviews once again are a telling sign of the success of B2C relationships and with high quality products or services, negative reviews are quickly swallowed up by the positive. B2C marketers often utilize incentives such as store credit or discounts to encourage customers to submit reviews, adding value to the process for the consumer and making it something they see as a worthwhile use of their time. Over time, this additional commitment to offering your customers good value and experiences will mean many become ambassadors for your brand.

Brand Building

Your brand identity and message will be strongly influenced by your target customer and differs in the B2B and B2C worlds.

Relationships remain King for B2B Branding

Most of the branding element of B2B marketing comes through relationship building. It begins with the consistency and delivery of your products and services. Your brand should be reflective of your target customer. Adjusting your brand towards your target audience will help to drive brand recognition and increase leads.

Push your Message when Branding for B2C

Branding is one of your main tools for delivering your message and creating something customers can relate to and connect with emotionally. The right branding motivates the customer to buy and this is also the number one priority of B2C marketing.

Interactions between B2C customers and brands are minimal, so they need to be impactive and direct. Clear delivery of credible messaging, through motivational copy, high quality advertisements and an instantly recognizable brand identity ensure your brand stays in the mind of the customer.

Prospect-to-Customer Process

The decision-making process, where you convert leads into buying customers is a further opportunity to utilize your marketing skillset to convince potential customers of the value of your product.

Open Communication drives B2B Decision Making

The prospect-to-customer process in B2B marketing is about open communication between businesses to see if you are able to effectively work together. You should utilize every communication opportunity with potential customers to highlight the positive benefits of your company as a partner, in comparison to competitors.

B2B customers will continuously be thinking about whether your product or service is a good investment for them, and it’s your job to convince them it is. When customers are weighing up your proposal, you need to have left a positive impression, showing them exactly what you can offer their business.

The Simpler the Better for B2C Decisions

As a B2B marketer you must continually appeal to your target audience and find ways to get them to make a purchase by simplifying the decision-making process. Once customers have identified a need and are looking for the product or service to fill that need, they want to find a solution as quickly as possible and are more flexible about the specificity of the solution. Consumers often look at a range of products and will visit your competitors’ sites before making a final decision. Price matters but so does the way you convey your message and the ease of purchase.

Keyword optimization plays a vital role in the decision-making process, as if a customer visits your site for a product, then searches for similar products, you want your product to appear again in the search listings as frequently as possible.

Targeting Customers

One of the golden rules of marketing is to know your customer. A successful marketing campaign is not possible without this but B2B and B2C audiences respond to very different messages, and this is something marketers need to keep in mind whenever approaching new leads.

Exceed Expectations in every B2B Encounter

Once you have ascertained the stakeholders and how to effectively market to them, you have to be ready for your product to be tested and assessed for viability within any business. Selling to businesses means passing their requirements and they may want their end users to assess and trial your product as well as themselves.

In B2B, your marketing needs to focus on and involve every person involved in the buying process and the final decision. Have the right information ready for the right people. Valuable resources for B2B marketers include case studies utilizing quantitative data, positive testimonials and the contact details of other customers who are happy to discuss your product or service with new prospects. Having this information readily available is impressive and an opportunity to exceed expectations on the way to making that sale.

Make it Emotional for B2C Customers

When you imagine the most powerful and impactive advertisements, they make you think about how a product will affect or improve your life. Ads that appeal to your audience’s emotions will drive them to make that all important purchase. People want to feel an emotional reaction or connection to products.

Social proof such as testimonials will pique customer interest and show potential customers the legitimacy of your product. Advertisements featuring your best reviews further cement the idea that you’re a brand to be trusted, with quality products. Take the time to recognize where your target customers spend their time, whether that’s on the search engines, social media or simply in the email inbox.

Communication

The right tone of voice and communication channels can make or break your marketing campaigns. The off-hand casual language that works with a regular consumer would be out of place in the boardroom, while over formal language is never going to sell your products on Twitter. Take the time to consider who exactly you’re talking to and the best way to talk to them.

Make ROI a Priority in B2B Comms

B2B customers want to know you know your stuff, inside out and without room for error. They want to buy from companies who are proficient and are experts in their field and the way you communicate the value of your product, and your proposal will go a long way to showing this. B2B marketers need to appeal to the rational side of the businessperson and convince them of the value of their investment.

B2B marketing content should focus on ROI, showcasing your business’s expertise while demonstrating the return on investment your product delivers. As already mentioned, case studies are a popular and valuable tool for the B2B marketer, as they demonstrate the benefits of the product, what it brings to business and how it can increase turnover or save buyers money. Your methods of communication will differ depending on the product, but short-form video and blogs, as well as webinars and interactive workshops, can help give buyers real insight into the product.

Simplify Everything for B2C Communication Success

We’re driving home the message that B2C is all about simplicity and convenience and this is true of communicating in B2C marketing, too. Consumer messaging should be short, direct, and casual. You don’t want to overdo it with the hard sell or push too many buzzwords. The former will alienate your audience and the latter will make you seem like you’re trying too hard. Your brand needs a unique and personable voice that is recognizable as your own and gives the audience a sense of personal connection. With a friendly and accessible tone of voice, you can put across the key benefits of your product and show just how quickly customers can enjoy it. You can also ensure advertisements quickly link to purchase points, so they can checkout minutes after first seeing your ad.

Advertising and Content Marketing

It’s clear at this point that the way you speak to B2B and B2C customers is markedly different. Content should vary depending on your target customer, with B2B customers usually needing more information and detail compared to B2C.

Supply Detail and Look to Inform with B2B Content

B2B customers expect you to know your product and offering inside out, but they also expect you to know what they want. Effective B2B content tells a great story and gives potential buyers a sense of what their business life will be like if they have your product. Advertising to B2B customers needs to be subtle and sophisticated, with information at the heart of all you do. B2B customers are much more likely to respond to long-form articles and white papers on subjects relating to your product, incorporating a soft sell call-to-action at the end. Publishing downloadable reports and offering informational videos and webinars further informs in a way that appeals to B2B customers.

Be Playful and Entertain with B2C Ads

Consumers almost always know what they’re looking for, so you have a chance to get creative, play and be entertaining in your B2C content and advertising. B2C adverts should look to cause an instant reaction, whether that’s “wow”, or shock or something else. Potential customers should be intrigued and ultimately convinced they need to buy your product. Your brand voice should remain consistent, and customers should be able to quickly recognize the tell-tale signs of one of your ads.

B2B vs B2C Marketing Strategy

Understanding the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing allows you to take advantage of the right tactics, depending on the customer you’re targeting in any given campaign. Many agencies and marketers have a mix of B2B and B2C customers, whereas others prefer to have a specialty.

Understanding that shifting your focus and efforts for B2B or B2C marketing will increase your return and reach more leads will undoubtedly make your campaigns more successful.

In Summary, the most common strategy differences are:

Business to Business Strategy (B2B)

  • Relationship Based Branding
  • Buyer Cycle Targeting
  • ROI Focused Communication
  • Informational Marketing

Business to Customer Strategy (B2B)

  • Message Based Branding
  • Emotion Based Targeting
  • Short, Direct and Casual Communication
  • Entertainment Based Marketing