One of the most vital things for any marketer to understand is the difference between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing. While these two types of marketing have similarities, they also have some fundamental differences. In this article, we will define B2B and B2C, what the difference between them is, and why they matter.
B2B and B2C, defined
The definitions for these two types of marketing are straightforward. B2B is defined as a business selling to other companies. B2B marketing focuses on logic and facts, and customers make purchases for the business they work for instead of themselves.
B2C marketing is a business selling to consumers, or individual, everyday people. These people buy things for themselves or someone else, but not for business. B2C marketing is typically extremely focused on eliciting an emotional response rather than focusing on logic as a B2B campaign would.
You might be thinking, “Aren’t there companies out there that do both?” And you’d be right. This is a B2M (business-to-many). One good example of a company like this is Adobe. Adobe sells its software to both businesses and consumers. The only real difference in how it works for each is how the prices are scaled. B2M businesses are not as common as B2B or B2C, but they do exist.
Chain of command
One of the biggest differences between B2B and B2C is the chain of command. The approval of a purchase from a B2B buyer goes through several people before it can be given permission. If you think about it, a company can be made up of one person but is more than just one. Now, it is not the case that everyone in a company must be a part of the approval process, but everyone who is involved is typically a figure of authority in a department directly affected by the purchasing of a product or service. For instance, new training software might be implemented for the marketing team. The head of that team may have to approve it. Then there’s the IT staff who must implement it. They will have to approve it as well. And the CEO of the company is also a deciding factor. Everyone in charge of a part of the process must be involved in the decision.
Conversely, B2C’s chain of command is much simpler because the buying process is up to just one person: the consumer. There is no intricate web of people who need convincing this time. In the case of B2C, you want consumers to go directly from witnessing your advertisement to buying. So, while pitching to B2B buyers is a multi-step process, pitching to B2C buyers is only a single-step process.
Of course, you can’t advertise a product and have someone buy it without forming some sort of relationship with your customers. In the case of B2B businesses, the relationship you will have with these customers is very intimate. This is because the B2B buying cycle is much longer. Multiple factors affect the depth of your relationship when selling B2B. On top of the fact that you must go through several people over time to make a sale, you also are most likely to have repeat customers. These businesses tend to be very loyal because of the effort you put into cultivating your relationships with them.
Conversely, B2C businesses have a much more impersonal relationship with their consumers. This is due to a shorter customer journey. Because the buying process is much shorter for consumers, you build less of a connection with them. Additionally, there are over 8 billion people in the world--and only 333.34 million companies. When you only must appeal to one person, and there are so many potential customers out there, you want to cast a broad net and appeal to as many people as possible. Consumers also tend to be more money conscious, and therefore will not necessarily buy only your brand. So that broad net matters when loyalty is harder to obtain.
Logic vs. emotions
The approaches to marketing for B2B and B2C are different regarding the tone you will use. B2B buyers want to know the facts. They want you to appeal to their logical minds and tell them how they will benefit, business-wise, from your product. This means proving your product’s return on investment (ROI), something you will want to emphasize. You will also want to highlight things like how efficient your product will be for workers, or how user-friendly it is. Include numbers and statistics and use industry jargon that shows you know what you’re talking about in the field you are pitching to.
B2C marketing is the opposite of B2B marketing in this aspect because it appeals to people’s emotions. This changes the marketing game completely! You want to tell stories about your marketing. Focus on how your product makes people feel; most consumers buy products based on want and not a need, so you want to show them why your product is the best out of the bunch with your marketing. Consumers also like to be entertained, so something engaging like humor will help your marketing go the distance. Make sure your content is brief, people do not have patience for overly long advertising. If your content is short, emotionally stimulating, and desirable, people are more likely to give your product a chance.
Overall, there are several differences between B2B and B2C marketing strategies. The ones that are listed are just a few of them. But the number of people a decision goes through, the relationship you have with your customers, and the tone which your marketing takes are all essential factors in creating a campaign. At the end of the day, though, marketing is marketing--the thing B2C and B2B buyers have in common is that there is a person at the end of every decision. Remember that your buyers are people like you and think about what you would want from your product if you were them. Humanity is the core of marketing regardless of whether your campaign targets B2B or B2C buyers, don’t forget that.