As marketers, we segment our careers and capabilities based on the subset of individuals or organizations we market to — business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). You're either one or the other; however, it doesn't have to be that way. B2B and B2C marketing are surprisingly similar with obvious differences only posing a small challenge to marketers.
The Differences Between B2B and B2C Buyers
B2B commerce generally involves a lengthier buying process or extended buyer’s journey that involves several people and/or business units, whereas B2C targets an individual or household. B2B requires additional consideration from marketers to create messaging and utilize marketing tactics to ensure they’re adequately influencing each buyer and decision maker throughout the various stages.
Buyer intent differs as well. B2B buyers buy based on need, function and logic — they’re typically buying solely to solve a problem. B2C consumers on the other hand, show intent and purchase based on emotion or the feeling a product and/or service provides when it’s used or consumed.
Differing platforms for brand and product awareness, as well as marketing, and advertising functions exist. However, the fundamental differences between B2B and B2C marketing stops there. The reality is, there’s more similarities than there are differences.
Related Article: Are You Asking the Right Questions in B2B Marketing?
Where B2B, B2C Fundamentals Stay the Same
Demand must be defined and created for products and/or services, and value must clearly be communicated. It’s imperative engagement is encouraged and achieved, while brand trust and loyalty gained. Regardless, if you’re marketing a multimillion-dollar technology solution to a corporate business unit, or a meal subscription box to a stay-at-home parent, these fundamentals stay the same.
Demand generation, or demand gen, is a term often referenced in B2B marketing; however, creating demand for your product (whether sold to a business entity or individual consumer) transcends marketing types. It’s essential. Prospects and customers alike must recognize a need for the product you’re marketing.
To create demand, you must clearly define value — it must be easily recognizable. A strong value proposition for B2B and B2C marketers must exist and resonate with the target market. Understand what your target market values, what they consider compelling enough to exchange their money (or time) for. While this may be different for each type of marketer, the discovery process remains the same.
Consider answering the following questions: What will this solution and/or product do for the intended user? Will it decrease corporate spending? Reduce headcount in a headcount-heavy organization? Will it simply save time for one or a subset of users?
Related Article: Using B2B Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business
Crafting a Compelling Story — for B2B and B2C
Once you understand what your target market values, it’s time to craft a compelling story that specifically speaks to those values and ultimately drives engagement. B2B and B2C marketing both approach engagement from the angle of offering their product or service as the solution to a problem; however, the context is very different. B2B focuses on logic and facts, speaking to percentages and outcomes to develop a strong business case for brand engagement. On the other hand, B2C marketers seek to evoke positive emotion, building on the promise of a more optimistic, fulfilled life in exchange for brand engagement.
Value and engagement drive brand trust and loyalty. For people and businesses to continue to employ your service or use your product, they need to trust your brand. This comes from consistently delivering on promises and providing great experiences at every level. Great experiences start with anticipating need — from the needs of a Fortune 500 company to understanding what will ease the burden of a parent with toddlers. When marketers anticipate the challenge their product or service alleviates, they position their product or service to consistently deliver positive outcomes.
When you inspect further, the line between B2B marketing and B2C marketing isn’t so definitive. Positioning your brand as the knight-in-shining-armor, the superhero of the story, is what matters. And it doesn’t matter what side you’re on — B2B or B2C — the theme and the goal are much the same.