Financially Responsible Marketing

B2B vs B2C Marketing Part 1

Posted by on Dec 17, 2012

B2B and B2C are commonly referred to in marketing, but what do these terms mean, and how do marketers approach these groups to encourage the decision to purchase?

Popularized by the web for commerce and e-sales, B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) are marketing terms which refer to business who interact with highly divergent purchasing groups.  Although the platforms used to market and communicate are the same for each type of business (direct marketing, advertising, PR, word of mouth, alliance and loyalty building), the purchase motivation is different, as each has different needs when it comes to the information that they need to make a purchase decision and complete a sales cycle.

In the first of a 2 part series, here are some core points on how B2B and B2C marketing tactics differ:

  • Identify your consumer
    • B2B is contemporary shorthand for the long-term sales practice of selling to other businesses, not the general public while B2C provides products and services directly to the end user.  The initial step for both B2B and B2C in establishing marketing strategies is somewhat similar – first identify your target customer and why they need to hear your message.  From there, the marketing activities diverge based on their need to support their own business strategies vs. personal use.
  • Size matters:  how big is your target audience?
    • B2B markets tend to be niche, vertical markets, comprised of hundreds or thousands of sales prospects whereas B2C markets are typically large, broad markets comprised of tens of thousands to millions of sales prospects.
    • When developing your marketing strategy B2B sales will be fewer in number, therefore cultivating quality prospects supersedes quantity.  Mass marketing techniques are more suited to broad spectrum B2C audiences and more cost effective than in the B2B arena
  • The long and the short of it
    • B2B sales are larger in number, cost and implication than B2C and therefore the decision to purchase may be defined in weeks or months vs minutes and hours.  The purchasing process in B2B is complex, requiring consultative selling through a multi-step buying decision.  B2C purchasing is generally a single step buying decision which may take moments (impulse buying) or a few days, based on the cost and emotional impact of the item
    • The implication to marketing involves building trust, understanding client needs and tailoring the offering to best support your client through the lengthy B2B purchasing cycle, unlike the B2C purchase process driven largely by emotional want and price.
  • How much will my sale cost me?
    • B2B sales are higher in cost and unit sales than individual B2C sales, therefore the investment of time and effort from your sales team must be proportionate to the impact to your business.
    • B2B requires a customer centric, consultative selling technique based on understanding your client’s need structure, creating a partnership and adapting your product or service to best deliver on their need structure.  B2C sales are generally one step – direct to the consumer or involving a retailer or online purchasing platform.  The sales approach is more about satisfying a desire or convincing the purchaser they need your product, therefore investment into any individual sale is less personalized and involved.

Join our next installation to learn more about the building of the brand, customer loyalty and customer value in B2B vs. B2C marketing strategies.