Is Marketing for B2B Different from B2C?

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Not much. Your marketing should be dictated by the preferences of your target customer segment anyway, and there is often less difference between marketing to small businesses and marketing to consumers than there is between marketing to small businesses and marketing to large businesses.

Is marketing less important for B2B?

One presumed difference between B2B and B2C is that B2B is driven more by sales and references, and B2C by advertising and marketing. But that difference is due more to the value of the product and the length of the sales cycle than to any inherent differences in marketing practice. For high-value products (like a large IT consulting contract), you have to hand-hold the customer through the process and (gently) nudging them towards the sale. Because a big amount of revenue hinges on every deal, there is a lot more resources spent on having each deal come through than it would if you were selling a SaaS product or an iPad app (even if they’re also business products).

But the differing value of products matters in B2C as well: if you’re selling apartments, reputation and word-of-mouth are critical: and you’d expect to have to nurture the customer and nudge her towards the sale.

Do B2B marketers use different marketing tactics?

B2B marketers regularly use marketing materials and content forms that are not often used in B2C:

  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Factsheets
  • Case studies
  • Tutorials

The reasons why these are used are the same: nurturing the customer through a long sales cycle until she is ready to buy (and also nurturing her after she has bought: to encourage retention and more sales).

Two other content channels that can be used for this purpose are blogs and email newsletters, used popularly by both B2B and B2C businesses.

Do B2B marketers use different marketing channels?

There’s just one rule guiding what marketing channels you should focus on: go where your customers are.

Take events, for example. For many businesses marketing to enterprises, industry events are a great way to get in front of more prospects.  For a seller of costume jewelry, the event in question might be an apparel expo or a weekly flea market.

What about social media? While Facebook is the haven of consumer brands (with Twitter and Pinterest proving quite popular), B2B businesses look at LinkedIn, Twitter, and Quora.  But this depends on your objective and (of course) your target audience: if you’re marketing to small-business owners or marketers who spend a lot of time on Facebook marketing their own brands, Facebook might be the right choice for you.

But B2B means you’re marketing to businesses. That’s the difference.

Don’t believe it. Whatever you’re selling, you’re always selling to people. That finance manager might seem inhuman when he chews you up over the phone, but you haven’t seen him playing with his little daughter. If your accounting solution lets him leave office on time even in tax season so he has more time to spend with his daughter… that’s a benefit he would get behind.

Whether you’re selling to businesses or to consumers, you need to know your target customers. What drives them, what keeps them up at night, what you can do to make their day better. If you can answer that in a way that pleases them, you’ve got it made.

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2 thoughts on “Is Marketing for B2B Different from B2C?

  1. Understanding your marketing and having a clear definition of your ideal customer is definitely a must for marketers. It gives you a map that will guide you where you want to go.

    Interesting post, Unmana!


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