Most digital marketers focus on tailoring marketing strategies for their clients. When handling digital marketing for B2C clients, they use tactics geared toward consumers. While managing the same task for B2B clients, they use different terms, content, and positioning. When you look online, you will find many relevant searches with phrases such as “differences between B2B and B2C marketing,” “how do B2C and B2B marketing initiatives differ?” etc.
There are indeed some distinct differences between these two marketing strategies because the target audiences of each are different. However, there are several similarities you can’t ignore either. And a significant amount of research suggests that the line between B2C and B2B marketing is fast fading.
How Are B2C and B2B Marketing Similar?
Every business owner needs to understand what is involved in his or her marketing to succeed in their venture. This aspect makes it essential to recognize the differences and the similarities between these two facets of digital marketing. Before we look at the similarities, let’s understand what the terms B2C and B2B mean.
- B2C: This is short for business to consumer. It refers to companies that are mainly catering to individual customers as opposed to other companies. Marketing studies indicate that consumers are more driven by impulse, and rationality takes a back seat when making purchase decisions.
- B2B: This is short for business to business. It refers to companies that are mainly catering to organizations or other companies. Business purchasers have a more rational approach, and are better informed, more often using their experience when making purchase decisions. Most businesses have ongoing services and products requirements and often order the latter in bulk.
B2C and B2B Marketing — the Differences
From the descriptions above, it is clear that there is an intrinsic difference between B2C and B2B marketing: the target audience! However, there are some other differences as well, such as:
- B2C businesses target individual customers, while a B2B businesses target decision-makers within a company or organization.
- B2C customers seek more engagement with the brand or company, while B2B customers look for value propositions in the form of product or service-related information.
- With B2C, the individual consumer conversion process is relatively quicker than converting business customers.
- B2C marketing primarily focuses on building short-term associations, while B2B marketing strategies predominantly train the spotlight on forging long-term relationships. As mentioned earlier, most businesses have recurring service and product requirements, and marketers keep this aspect in view while designing marketing strategies that target business customers.
How the Face of B2B Marketing Is Changing
However, any experienced marketer who has designed and implemented B2B and B2C marketing campaigns will tell you that there has been a distinct change in these two specific forms of marketing. Market research shows that B2B marketing also has a human element, which had either been overlooked or pushed into the shadows until now.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) has researched B2B marketing extensively. Its research findings have revealed that this form of marketing is not only about numbers. The researchers identified 40 different essential “elements of value” important to B2B customers making purchase decisions. The five primary categories into which these elements have been divided are as follows:
- Ease of doing business value (factors impacting productivity, access, and relationships)
- Functional value (taking into account economic and performance-related factors)
- Table stakes value (including regulatory compliance and ethical standards)
- Individual value (relating to career-related and personal matters)
- Inspirational value (whether hope is sparked, a vision is achieved, social responsibility is upheld)
Business customers do need their suppliers to meet price and other specifications. They also need to be in line with specific regulatory requirements. However, HBR also found that customers looked for products and solutions that added convenience, enhancing their reputation. Modern-day companies face stiff competition, and they need to go a step further to make their mark and create a strong foothold in the market.
The Focus Is on Creating a Better Human Experience
Many companies now focus on aligning their values to their customers, partners, and workforce expectations. This process is a crucial aspect of creating a human experience. Studies indicate that organizations focusing on this are far more likely to experience a boost in revenue, outperforming their rivals. Businesses with physical stores that adopt this approach also experience a significant growth in sales.
When you want to drive sales and leads with B2B buyers, you must appeal to their rational side, which works well for immediate action and results. However, if you aim to create a lasting impact and benefit from a more long-term association with your business customers, you need to get more creative. You will have to generate ideas that appeal to your audiences’ emotions. This concept is neither new nor novel. Experienced branding professionals have been using very similar techniques for their B2B and B2C clients for quite some time.
B2B and B2C — the Similarities
Business buyers tend to conform to cultural expectations when it comes to making rational business decisions. However, there is solid research proving that “the emotion quotient” also plays a part in this rationality. This aspect is not the only commonality between B2B and B2C buyers, but it underscores many other similarities between these two marketing techniques. Here we look at what they are:
- Buyer Personas
While the types of buyers that B2B and B2c marketing target are pretty different, they both have buyers. Marketers have to identify and create buyer personas before they start designing their marketing strategy. Marketers creating B2B or B2C strategies need to know who and where their target audiences are and what they need. Regardless of whether you are marketing to individuals or business customers, you need to understand your buyers to succeed in your activities.
- Perfect Sync Between Marketing and Sales Departments
Disconnects between the marketing and sales teams are a common point of contention in almost 50% of businesses across various industries. If the sales executives do no follow-up on the marketing-generated leads, the latter’s efforts are moot. Therefore, if a company wants to gain maximum traction from its efforts, the marketing and sales teams must work synergistically.
They need to establish roles and expectations and have a common goal. They also need to meet halfway when creating basic standards in the lead-generation strategies they develop and implement. When the marketing and sales teams in B2C and B2B companies work together, it can help them close more deals, boosting their revenue generation potential and profitability.
- Data-Driven Return on Investment
Every B2B or B2C marketing campaign aims to engage customers, drive brand awareness, gain more conversions, and increase the company’s bottom line. However, it is vital to collect data on potential buyers at every sales funnel stage for a marketing plan to be successful. In this respect as well, both B2C and B2B companies adopt a similar approach. They assimilate, analyze, and use the data they have collected to assess and improve their overall marketing tactics and performance.
- Launch Plans
When B2C and B2B marketers launch new products or services, they need to develop plans that promote publicity while maximizing reach. This approach demands a precise understanding of the marketing activities and tactics they need to prioritize, using the proper channels to deliver the right messages to the target audiences at the right time.
Regardless of whether marketers are developing these strategies for B2B or B2C clients, they need to focus on this aspect to ensure effective brand positioning for a successful launch.
- Emotional Appeal
B2C marketing strategies are more emotion-driven and personalized, but B2B marketing campaigns also need to have this aspect. While a B2B company needs to provide excellent services or products, it also needs to add emotional appeal to the campaign if it wants to convince its customers and potential customers to buy. This is especially true if said company is a new entrant and needs to make its mark to glean customers from its targets’ current vendor/supplier.
Status symbols have a pivotal role to play in the business world. There has been a sea change in how B2B buyers associate with potential suppliers. They conduct a significant amount of research via mobile devices and complete purchases via online channels, just as they do in their B2C purchases. This means that there is very little difference when it comes to being in “work mode,” and so the emotional rewards and quality they expect from B2C and B2B brands are blurring.
- Brand Awareness
Market penetration and brand awareness matter to the same extent in B2B and B2C companies. When people see products being used extensively by others, they are more likely to consider those products for their personal use. This concept also applies to B2B. When you know that many other companies like yours are widely adopting a particular product, service, or software program, it gives you a more favorable impression about the product, increasing the chances of using it. It’s why the brand awareness aspect is similar in B2B and B2C marketing.
Account-based thinking is another area where there is often an overlap in B2B and B2C marketing. In a company, the potential customers are groups of people, where every member brings a unique experience and perspective from their roles to the purchase decision process. Although their opinions could be specific to the required project, they also attend the meeting with the mind frame of IT specialists, HR teams, or directors.
This kind of dynamic can exist even in B2C marketing. In most households, the main decision-makers will agree to a certain threshold dollar amount, saying they would jointly have to agree to the purchases that exceed that threshold. Therefore, if you are selling a car or a TV, you likely aren’t selling to only one particular household member. You might have to consider the needs of all the people who would be using it, including any children in the family. It means that, just as in B2B marketing, you need to have a good understanding of the roles of individuals in the household and how their opinions will affect the purchase decision.
- Customer Experience
Customer experience is as vital in B2B marketing as it is in B2C marketing. When an organization is making a significant change, the stakeholders’ emotions come into the picture. If you, as a business supplier, overlook this aspect, you miss a trick. These clients will be experiencing enthusiasm, apprehension, and excitement when making purchase decisions in their business.
Launching a product or rebranding is a big deal, and business marketers need to note and appreciate this fact. If you omit displaying emotional intelligence during the sales process, it can make you seem emotionless, affecting the relationship. The customer experience is all about addressing your clients’ emotional and rational needs at the right time, and that will come from looking beyond B2C and B2B concepts.
As you can see, there are several similarities between B2B and B2C marketing strategies. Being aware of these similarities helps professionals like us create impactful and effective marketing strategies for our B2B clients. Business buyers indeed operate by numbers, but they aren’t machines. They, too, are people and they have emotions, and engaging with them on this level will help you build long-term relationships with them while meeting their business needs.
This can sometimes seem like an uphill task, and overcoming any hurdles requires proper planning and strategic marketing skills. Working with experienced and trained marketers like the professionals at Timmons&Company can help you create a balanced approach to cater to your specific target audience’s needs.
Work With Skilled and Experienced B2B (and B2C!) Marketers
At Timmons&Company, we understand the nitty-gritty involved in engaging with B2B (as well as B2C) clients. Our expertise extends beyond mere brand building. We handle every aspect of your marketing campaign, and our team can help build your brand from the ground up as well as help you expand it into new markets.
We offer customized services, keeping your unique needs in view so that you can build meaningful and lasting business relationships with your clients. We use our extensive marketing expertise, the latest technologies, analytical tools, and creativity to craft excellent and impactful B2B marketing campaigns that deliver tangible results.
For more details about our services and to kick-start your B2B marketing campaign, feel free to call Timmons&Company at 267-483-8220. Alternatively, please send us your requirements or queries via this online form, and one of our expert team members will contact you shortly.