Is B2B the same as B2C?
I recently went to a large marketing conference and sat in on a session about B2B lead generation. The presentation was interesting and they had some great ideas, but I never once heard them say the words “B2B” or even “Business to business”. Of course, being the extrovert that I am, I raised my hand during the Q&A and asked the question “How does this all relate back to B2B?” His answer: “Well, at the end of the day B2B is still doing business person to person”. This took me back, and I quietly disagreed. Yes, B2B in the literal form is doing business person to person, but the marketing tactics do not translate well.
The B2B Sales Funnel
One of the biggest differences in marketing to B2B customers rather than B2C is the process of the sales funnel. We all know the steps: Awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, purchase. But when you take a look at the differences between the two, you’ll find that there is a longer B2B sales cycle due to a multi-step buying process.
A B2B customer conducts more research over a longer period of time to find the right solution for their company. After identifying the benefits of the solution your business is offering, they will then look for reviews/references and take a deep dive into your business’s reputation. This B2B process can take weeks or months, whereas a B2C consumer will make a decision in days or even minutes.
Understanding these key differences makes a big impact on your content strategy and delivery. It’s all about sending your message in the right place at the right time.
- Top of the funnel marketing activities are used to build brand awareness and promote education using blog posts and social media.
- Middle of the funnel marketing focuses on building relationships with prospects using webinars and other types of content that can help the buyer learn how your product or service solves their problem.
- Bottom of the funnel marketing helps the buyer make the final decision. At this stage, use content like a free estimate, demo, or trial to help the buyer finalize their decision.
B2C businesses benefit from having a wide range of target customers, meaning they can reach any potential customer that would be interested in their product. As an example, any member of a household can have an influence on purchasing decisions for items like clothing, electronics, groceries, or even toys. B2C businesses don’t have to appeal to one single member in order to get results.
B2B businesses, on the other hand, do need to appeal to an exclusive person or small group of people within the business. Let’s say your business was an outdoor electronic sign company trying to convince businesses why they would benefit from a sign outside of their building. It wouldn’t make sense for you to target all employees of a business. You would want to reach upper-level management that would have the ability to make the purchasing decision – they would be the ones who would need to see the ad directly. To get your brand in front of those people, you’ll need to shift your marketing focus to target by job title.
The Decision Making Process
After identifying the person(s) that your business is targeting, it’s important to get a deeper understanding of the logistics behind purchasing. In B2B marketing, there is little to no personal emotion involved in the decision making process. Instead, they use logic and rational thinking. As a marketer, you’ll want to focus on understanding your buyers, how they operate within the organization, and what’s important to them in their role. This type of marketing requires more in-depth messaging to showcase how your product or service saves time, money, and resources. If you’re selling a $10,000 B2B product versus a $100 product on Amazon, purchasers will be approaching your business with an ROI mindset. Buyers will also spend a significant amount of time doing research on your product, your business, and your reputation. B2C customers are more likely to make quick decisions on personal purchases than they are on business ones, where they may have more finite budgets and there’s higher pressure to get it right the first time. With all the thought that goes into buying one product/services and high risks at stake, you can understand why the B2B decision making process takes more time than your average B2C sales funnel.
The Underlying Motivation
A common misconception about the B2B and B2C sales process is that they are buying for similar reasons. You’re probably wondering, “Aren’t they both trying to solve a problem?” Yes, but there’s more to it than that: Their motivation to solve their problems will be different.
For B2B buyers, you need to think about more than just selling your solution. Buyers will consider your business based on the value of your solution, the relationship you have built with other buyers, and the customer service you have to offer. B2C customers are looking to improve their lives in some way, but B2B customers are purchasing to improve their business and their bottom line.
Yes, at the end of the day we are doing business person to person, but a successful marketing strategy stems from understanding your audience. Although there are some similarities between B2B and B2C businesses, there is much more that goes into a B2B marketing strategy, and understanding the differences between the two is essential to seeing success.
Feeling a little overwhelmed about shifting your marketing focus? Let’s chat. We’re here to make your marketing strategy as easy as possible, and being a B2B business ourselves, we know how to focus on results.