Business marketing is either business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). They might sound similar, but both use different strategies to turn leads into conversions.
Whatever you’re selling, it’s essential to understand the market you’re targeting, and that you use the latest online marketing tactics to gain regular customers.
So how do you sell effectively in this digital era?
Here’s our guide to the key differences between B2B vs B2C marketing and how to make your ad campaigns deliver.
What Is B2C Marketing?
B2C marketing is the action of promoting and selling your products/services to consumers. That’s right, everyday folk who can form a transactional relationship with you.
What does B2C stand for? Business-to-consumer. It became a big deal in the late 1990s when online retailers began taking off in the dot.com boom.
But these days it encompasses a much broader range of industries.
Obviously, saying B2C saves time, and it’s much easier to type. Which means most of the time, it will be abbreviated to this short form.
Example industries include retail, tourism, and personal banking. Some famous brands known for their B2C marketing include eBay, Netflix, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Walmart.
To show how universal B2C marketing can be, here’s a Japan-only advert for a McDonald’s burger range. It appeals to our taste buds and has a familiarity about it.
How do you go about reaching your target audience? Using content strategies, you can market to everyday people and promote your business to:
- Raise brand awareness
- Increase customer engagement and loyalty
- Generate more leads
- Create customer evangelists (happy buyers who promote your brand online, such as on social media)
- Increase sales
It’s essential to remember B2C is a personal process. A consumer is buying from you to:
- Solve a pain point
- Learn new skills
- Satisfy a need
The result is you need engaging B2C marketing strategies to make a sale. You’ll be up against a lot of competitors doing the same thing.
Your approach should involve creating content that resonates with your target audience. Create simple, impactful messaging that appeal to emotions.
But your focus should always be on the benefits of what you’re selling and how you’ll add positively to a person’s life.
What Is B2B Marketing?
B2B marketing is the action of promoting and selling your products/services to other businesses. For example, if you’re selling computer software to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
What’s the definition of B2B? Well if B2C was business-to-consumer, then it makes sense that B2B stands for business-to-business.
Example industries include employment law consultancies, B2B digital agencies, and wholesale suppliers. Some famous brands known for their B2C marketing include DocuSign, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Slack.
To stand out from competitors and reach your audience, you need a B2B marketing strategy. This should include:
- Your goals
- The market you’re aiming for
- Buyer personas
- The marketing channels you’re targeting
- The marketing tactics you’ll use
- Creating assets, campaigns, and content
- Measuring your metrics
So, what’s an example of a B2B advert? Take a look at this Google display ad by the online communications company Slack.
Here the marketing team appeals through the product’s ease of use. It removes excess emails and promotes productivity, making staff happier in the process.
The ad appeals to employees and higher management, as it suggests it’s a business-wide win-win.
But what sort of B2B marketing should you use?
Well, you’re selling to other businesses and organizations. So, you need to appeal to common pain points and product solutions.
You need to be confident in what you’re selling and how it’ll provide genuine value to customers.
Simplify your message. If your product involves a lot of complex technology, remove the jargon. Instead, clearly explain how you’ll help your customers work smarter.
The Difference Between B2B vs B2C Marketing
Depending on your target audience, there are various marketing strategies you need to know. As you can probably imagine, marketing a product to businesses vs your average user are significantly different. Here’s a closer look at the key differences.
The Decision Maker
In B2C, the consumer is the end user and often the only person who makes the purchase decision.
Friends and family may make suggestions over, for example, buying a new TV. But one person will decide, and they don’t need to think about much else.
Take a look at Netflix’s minimalistic approach to advertising.
It relies on the knowledge many consumers will already have of the streaming service.
Never tried Netflix? Well, one month free is a tempting enough deal. No household will have an argument about that.
For B2B, the situation is more complex. Various departments and managers need to weigh up the costs, potential ROI, and possible training requirements for a team.
So, you need to persuade senior people within an organization. This can include:
As a final step, accounts will have to sign off the purchase for company records.
It’s a more drawn-out process in B2B, which is why it’s essential to establish a strong reputation to build a foundation of trust.
How do marketing teams go about persuading B2C and B2B decision-makers? Here are a few tactics.
Highlight how you provide value. If your product can improve productivity or save a business money, make it clear how you can do this. You need to persuade management that you’ll make their life easier.
Appeal to a consumer’s emotions. What does your product do? Is it fun? Will it improve their lifestyle?
Research who your customers are and why they may want your product, so you can create strategies to convince them your product suits their needs.
The Buying Journey
In B2C, consumers have more buyer flexibility. From awareness to sale, it can take a matter of minutes.
For businesses, it’s more complex. Budget approval and ROI are key considerations. This means purchases come about from a rational decision relating to business benefits.
For example, a junior team member can’t sign the business up to HubSpot as they feel like it. There has to be involvement from higher management. And why?
- Non-disclosure agreements may need signing for legal reasons
- There may be training requirements, including product demos and walkthroughs
- Managers may need to monitor ROI to consider long-term product use
How can marketers tackle their tasks? Here’s a quick breakdown:
Consider each stage of a buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, decision. At each step, you can provide content to steer the prospect towards purchasing:
- Blog posts, videos, social media, and infographics
- Newsletters, events, 1-1 calls, whitepapers, webinars
- Case studies, pricing packages, demos, free trials
You can use a conversion funnel such as: discovery, triggers, search, buy, and stay.
The goal is to get a prospect to convert, for which content can drive them towards key areas of your website.
The End User
Who uses the product/service after purchase?
In the world of B2C, it’s the consumer. If someone buys a new smartphone, they’re the ones set to use it. So, marketers sell directly to consumers.
In B2B, marketers target the person who makes the decision. Such as a CEO or department manager.
This person won’t likely use your product. They’re buying it to support their departments, increase productivity, and benefit their business.
So, you need to convince them you’re able to help their business grow. How can marketers approach this? Here are some ideas for your strategy:
You need to educate a small group of decision makers. In your content, cover how their business and staff will benefit from your product by saving time, money or stress.
Marketers can direct their campaigns at anyone who can use the product/service. You may influence household decision makers, but your approach is still the same.
Appeal to emotions and make your product look fun and indispensable.
Who’s buying? For consumers, it’s the end user. Whether it’s a smartphone or Netflix account, they’re paying for it.
For businesses, it’s the company. And this means a long chain of command to go through, as well as greater costs to consider.
When businesses buy products for a department, it’s a lot more expensive than a consumer picking up a new pair of shoes.
This presents a tricky task for marketers in B2B. How do they convince businesses to spend their budget on a new product or service? Here are a few insights:
Highlight the ROI businesses will receive for their purchase. Explain how you’ll provide significant ROI and why businesses have to own your product.
For example, Slack is essential for businesses working remotely. And it uses a freemium model to encourage sign-ups.
Highlight the benefits of making the purchase. This may be lifestyle enhancements or the level of enjoyment the consumer will experience. Flag up unique selling points (USPs), so consumers know they’ll get value for money.
The Return on Investment
Return on investment (ROI) is crucial in B2B marketing.
Your audience is looking for efficiency and expertise, so you’ll structure much of your strategy around how a business will benefit/profit from you.
Take a look at HubSpot’s ad. It goes straight to what other businesses want to hear:
- ROI tracking
In B2C, your potential customers are on the lookout (usually) for deals, solutions to lifestyle issues, and entertainment.
While ROI has some significance, they won’t consider it excessively.
In fact, many consumers will make spur of the moment purchases with little consideration of the long-term value. Whereas businesses are much more likely to be cautious.
How do you approach this side of marketing? Here’s a quick breakdown:
Highlight your product’s USPs, so decision makers are well aware of what they’re buying. The likes of a CEO needs to know what you’re providing.
Be sure to include the technical side and long-term advantages the product or service will offer.
What’s the ROI for consumers? Flag up immediate lifestyle improvements and long-term gains, such as entertainment value or happy memories.
B2B vs B2C Marketing Summary
With two different groups with varying interests and expectations, it’s no surprise there are major contrasts in marketing approaches.
What do you need to know about B2B vs B2C marketing? Here are the main points.
B2C campaigns are usually snappy and eye-catching. Consumers typically have shorter attention spans, especially if they’re not looking for your product.
You need to get their attention. In B2B, you need to be more analytical and prepared to have trial periods and demos with prospects to sell your product.
In B2C, marketers will mainly rely on targeting consumer emotions. B2B depends more on a rational approach, ensuring businesses understand the full benefits of making a purchase.
B2C campaigns aren’t usually complex, often offering catchy soundbites to simplify products. Whereas in B2B, you need to demonstrate your expertise in the market.
This can include creating technical content, such as webinars and white papers, to showcase the full extent of a product’s benefits.
Your Key Takeaways
Ultimately, you’re selling to people. They just have different expectations you need to consider when creating your marketing strategies.
Customers expect value from the products and services they buy. Whether B2C or B2B, it’s the job of marketing to turn prospects into conversions.
How do you succeed? Well, get a head start with these 20 best digital marketing books for 2021.
If you’ve got something fantastic to sell, you’re a step closer to growing your business.
Make your marketing strategy count.