A good marketing plan is essential for any business. But some companies make the mistake of having the wrong marketing plan because they aren’t in tune with who they are speaking to. While B2C and B2B are seemingly closing the gap in marketing strategies, there are still some major key differences.
A deep dive into crucial marketing pillars can expose these differences. When your business follows the right marketing approach, success follows. Let’s take a look.
Business-to-consumer marketing means the business is selling to the general masses. Even if it’s a niche product or service, the company is still looking for individuals to buy its products. The upside to this type of business is that there is typically a large market to sell to.
- Clothing stores and retailers like Macy’s, Guxxi, etc.
- Grocery stores
- Barnes and Noble Bookstore
Business to Business marketing is when a company has a service or product that helps other businesses. This marketing is much smaller than selling to the general public. The upside to this type of selling is that the product price point is higher because the services are more complex.
- Security products for warehouses
- Private-sector defense contracting
- Marketing agencies
Because the consumer is different, some of the basic sales pillars change as well. This includes the entire sales funnel or buyer’s journey. It also directly changes customer service and how ongoing relationships between the buyer and the company work.
Let’s start with who you are targeting and why this impacts the rest of your marketing strategy.
- Business-to-consumer marketing is trying to sell to individuals. They are more likely to make one-time purchases of a singular product. Most of the time, they don’t need two of the same thing.
- This creates a larger audience with a more efficient and transactional process. Appealing to the masses means spending less time on each individual and more general targeting.
- General targeting can still mean a niche prospective client. Selling sports equipment is not the same as selling makeup. There may be an overlap in the customer but not in the marketing strategy.
- The general public is always developing, so brands that sell to them are much more likely to update their brand at a faster rate.
- Ad targeting may be more simplistic and automated. Less time is spent on leads until they enter a specific part of the buyer’s journey.
- The market is much smaller when trying to sell to businesses. Naturally, there are just fewer businesses than humans on earth. Therefore the intended purchase is usually multiple times.
- Businesses that sell to other businesses typically keep their brand stable and similar. Evolution does occur but much slower than if they were appealing to individuals. Products change less than people.
- The targeting of prospective clients is much more personalized and hands-on. While some parts of the process may be automated, the selling business is likely to use employees to cold call early on.
The sales journey is the crux of any business plan. Every step of the way plays an important role in whether the end goal or sale is successful or not. This is where we can see multiple differences between B2B marketing strategies and B2C. This is directly impacted by the above section with whom we are dealing.
- The sales journey has to be as efficient as possible for the customer. Attention spans are smaller, and there are a lot of product options to choose from. This is a much more transactional experience.
- This is usually a single-step process. Or automated with few steps involved. Think email sequencing, ad to check out experience, etc. The entire process can not be bothersome so as not to waste the consumer's time.
Generally speaking, the process can be summed up as follows.
- Awareness of the brand or product.
- The buyer is either interested in the product or not.
- They take action.
- This is a multiple-step buyer’s journey. There is a lot of back and forth between selling the service to the business. This is for a few reasons. The product is likely more complex and needs thorough understanding. It also likely has a higher investment price.
In fact, according to Marketing Charts, 74.6% of first-time deals can take up to four months in B2B
- The relationships are less transactional and more on-going relationships. The service likely will have the selling business help the buying business through installment or setup. This may continue through product use.
The process for business-to-business follows this path.
- The business is aware of a product or service.
- They express an interest in learning more at the surface level.
- Consideration goes into whether they want to continue learning more about the product or service.
- The intent is key. The intent is where the buyer (business) starts to express interest in using the product with the business. Looking at how much time they are spending on a website, calling, asking questions, etc., expresses their level of intent to go forward with the service.
- Evaluation comes after intent. After looking at all the information, the buyer will evaluate if the information being presented lines up with the goal of their personal business.
- Decision or action to be made.
The sales journey dips a little into the customer service part. This section clearly identifies key differences between business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing.
- Customer service with business-to-consumer must be quick and efficient. The problem usually is less complex. They want to return a product or ask Frequently Asked Questions about the product.
- The solution then might be to direct to a FAQ page or work with automated chatbots.
- Customer service with B2B is a lot more complex. It is normally an ongoing relationship. Therefore, customer service is almost always expected throughout the use of the service.
- If it is a product such as a security system, customer service is expected to be readily available to assist due to the usually higher price point.
How you speak to everyday consumers is not going to be the same jargon you use with business arrangements. There are a few instances in which this is not true.
- There is usually a creative and playful marketing approach here. The idea is to be relatable so the consumers feel like they need your product to fit in.
- Your marketing lingo and advertising are much more likely to develop and change based on current trends and what interests the general public have. Staying relevant is key.
- This is usually a much more formal business-like approach. The sales pitch surrounds the idea of a company needing your product to assist them to make more sales to the customer.
- The lingo and product identity stays relatively intact as long as there is a need for the product.
Yes and no. Knowing your audience is key, even if it’s another business type. But the marketing solutions can’t end there. In order to perfect the ad copy, use the right marketing lingo, and make a product that registers with your users regardless of whether you are B2B or B2C, you need numbers.
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Data driven marketing decisions are a major reason why a company succeeds or fails in its marketing structure. Leading experts at Break The Web sum it up nicely.
“Without facts, you might make important decisions on a whim, and the results may not be as powerful as expected. In all, there’s a higher chance of success from every angle by using data-driven analytics.”
This includes using data to find keywords to better market to your correct customers. Here are some examples.
- Engagement data indicates how your customers and clients are interacting with your website. This is a great metric for understanding order history.
- Personal data can tell you the specifics about where your customers are from, their gender, general interests, and so on. This is typically done by finding their IP address.
- Behavior data tells you how they search your website. This can tell you what they do and don’t like or, more importantly, what they are searching for.
- Attitudinal data lets a business know what the level of customer satisfaction is. This gives insights into the opinions of people buying or not buying your product.
The gap between marketing B2B and B2C is closing due to technological advancements. However, some things remain true. Generally speaking, the main difference between the two companies across all areas of marketing and sales is the approach.
The approach to consumerism is quick and efficient. Just consider Amazon to be the best example. This applies to customer service, the buyer’s journey, and advertising. The opposite is true when looking to get partnered with other businesses.
This relationship is slow cooking. There is a lot of back and forth, and once the initial deal does go through, the work continues. Because the market is smaller and the price point is higher, businesses that buy from other businesses expect to get what they pay for.