They’re terms that we hear banded around a lot but what do “B2B” and “B2C” actually mean, and how do they affect your marketing strategy? Well, B2B stands for “business to business”, which means that your target audience is other businesses. So you might be a professional services company, looking to provide financial support to startups. Whereas B2C stands for “business to consumer”, meaning you directly target the consumer. Like an e-commerce fashion website. And depending on who you’re targeting can make for very different tactics.
The decision maker
One of the key differences between the two is who has the final say on whether or not they become a customer of yours. In B2C marketing, it’s easy to put out a targeted advert to your intended audience and see results. Even where the target audience is not actually the buyer (like putting out an advert for a new toy in the middle of a kid’s TV show – the parent will be the buyer, not the child).
Whereas with B2B marketing it’s much more difficult. In our personal lives, we can easily be persuaded by marketing tactics, especially when it comes to influence from others (like family members or your significant other wanting a holiday). But in business, everyone goes in to a very different mindset. And while putting out a B2C campaign is about appealing to the masses, B2B marketing is about appealing to a very niche market; the decision makers. So putting out an advert about a fancy new coffee machine may appeal to the cravings of the office workers, but your ad will fail if it doesn’t appeal to someone senior like an office manager or practice director.
The decision making process
Just in the same way that the person you’re appealing to differs with the two approaches, so does the way in which they receive it. While both marketing strategies need to be appealing and engaging, consumers usually accept the information presented to them and decide whether or not it’s worth their time. If, as a consumer, you see an advert that doesn’t immediately sound like something you want then you’re not likely to spend another second thinking about it.
On the other hand, business customers will want to find out more; they’re not in the market of ‘buy it now’ after one advert. You need to make sure that all your marketing tactics and company information are clear on your website so that business customers don’t have to work too hard (past the point of interest) to properly weigh up a sale.
The conversion time
Consumers are far more likely to make spontaneous purchases and spur-of-the-moment decisions. So one advert might result in a sales conversion. Show someone a pretty pair of shoes and if the price is reasonable, they’ll probably click ‘buy it now’ there and then
Whereas with business customers, they typically take longer, conduct more research and deliberate for a while before parting with their money. This can also be down to the fact that most businesses don’t have a one-man-band sort of policy and decision making often involves consulting with others and even putting together proposals. Take your time and opt for an elongated ad campaign, rather than a repetition of the same adverts.
The audience motivation
In the world of marketing, it’s so important to fully understand your prospects and to get under the skin of their motivations and needs. Both B2B and B2C customers want to save something (time, money) or gain something (comfort, enjoyment) but they’re shopping for a different person.
Consumers are shopping for themselves, so you need to show them how your product or service can improve their life. Whereas business customers are shopping on behalf of the business, so you need to show how you can improve that, as well as their bottom line.
Never forget though that in both scenarios, you are still marketing to real people, whatever their motivation. So emotional appeal and psychological techniques apply for both, and will likely provide you with better results when implemented successfully.