There is a difference between marketing to businesses and marketing to a consumer. Some people think marketing to someone looking to purchase something for themselves is the same as marketing to a person making a purchase for their business.
You may still be dealing with a person making a decision on what to buy and from whom, but buying for yourself verses buying for your business is a very different purchasing experience. In fact, there are profound differences that you must remember when developing your marketing strategy.
What is B2B vs B2C Marketing?
B2B businesses market and sell their products and services directly to other businesses.
B2C businesses sell products and services to consumers for their personal use.
Some businesses sometimes do both (such as a landscape company that provides residential and commercial services).
Although the marketing strategies you may use are the same, how they are executed differ.
Whether you are creating a B2B or B2C marketing strategy, the first step is the same. You need to identify who the customer is and why they need to hear your message. From there, the marketing activities diverge.
The B2B vs B2C Buyers
The business buyer is sophisticated and wants or needs to buy products or services to help their company stay profitable, competitive and successful. Your:
- Messaging must talk to a sophisticated audience.
- Typical reader has a high interest in – and understanding of – your product (or at least of the problem it solves).
- Marketing must deliver the necessary information to the buyer.
The consumer is usually looking for the best price and will research the competition prior to shopping. Another factor is whether the buyer trusts the retail outlet, either the storefront or the eCommerce website. Although you can find the products on the Internet at many different price points, many consumers will still buy from a trusted source. In that respect, B2C marketing needs to build awareness, trust and loyalty with its customers.
Importance of Customer Service
Quality customer service is important to both buyers.
- B2B customer service comes into play prior to ever making that first sale and begins with a customer’s very first contact with your company, whether you call them or they call you.
- B2C customer service helps build customer loyalty where customers will be willing to pay a slightly higher price to know that they can return the product easily and can trust the source they are dealing with.
In other words, customer service is critical and although may not be considered “marketing”, bad customer service can render all of your marketing efforts useless.
Importance of brand for B2B
For B2B markets, brand will only help you be considered, not necessarily chosen. Brand is based on your reputation. So although B2B marketers develop brand awareness through marketing efforts, the brand identity is based on how you treat clients, the quality of the work, how reliable you are and other factors that the client values.
Business buyers use more rational thought when selecting a product or service for their company. Their motivation is to save money, increase productivity or raise profitability.
You still need to create a quality brand identity in order to make a good first impression. But putting excessive marketing dollars into building brand awareness is not what counts in your B2B marketing plan.
Importance of brand for B2C
For B2C a strong brand can encourage the consumer to buy, remain loyal and potentially pay a higher price. Companies build brands by repeatedly getting the image in front of the consumer. Consumer products need to ensure we see their brand enough times to recognize it and consider it worthy of our purchase.
Consumers are motivated by desire, style and prestige. Brand plays into the equation for consumers since we are more apt to buy “status” brands. It feels better to own a BMW, Lexus, Rolex or Nike even though we will pay more for the brand.
Plan Before You Begin to Market
The bottom line is that B2B vs B2C marketing comes down to the buyers’ emotional perspective about the purchase.
- Consumers make buying decisions based on status, security, comfort and quality.
- Business buyers make buying decisions based on increasing profitability, reducing costs and enhancing productivity.
For B2B businesses, put your marketing dollars into programs that help your target make a rational buying decision. Educate them on the value of the product and service you offer. Provide quality content, testimonials, and other activities that build credibility.
If you are a B2C business, understand what motivates your buyer and the emotional aspect of the buying decision. Create compelling materials that build awareness for your brand. Enhance their comfort in buying from you by delivering quality service for the best price.
Remember also that marketing organizations that tightly integrate their sales teams into the B2B or B2C selling process have higher success. Sales and marketing need to work together to ensure they are all speaking with the target audience consistently.
As you create your marketing plan for your business, remember what is important to your target audience. Then create the right marketing activities that connect with them.