If you’ve been in the business and marketing space for any length of time you’ve probably come across these two terms, ‘B2B’ and ‘B2C’. B2B means business to business, while B2C means business to consumer.
When it comes to digital marketing, the way you present your business to these entities has some core differences between them but also can have some overlap depending on the situation. In this article I want to break down the basics so you can understand the best practice when formulating your marketing strategy towards them. It is important to do it right, as failure to do so could result in a lot of frustration and lost time, effort, and capital.
Some examples of B2B marketing
- A company selling medical devices to healthcare organizations
- A startup that creates time management software
- A logistics company that offers distribution packaging and coordination
Some examples of B2C marketing (we all know this one)
- A pizza restaurant selling pizza
- Real estate agents selling homes
- A construction company selling construction services
Business to Business - Business Relationships
A massive part of the B2B strategy is building personal relationships with the business owners to form long-term business between you and them. While you may have a great product or service there is a lot more risk involved with an ongoing business relationship than a one time purchase. The business owner wants to know how you practice business, if you’ll be there for them when they need you and what kind of ethics and morals you have as a business owner. They’re putting a lot of faith in choosing you as their service provider and they have to know that working with you and your business is a good business decision for them in the long run.
Once that trust and proof of concept is established, a business can move forward with you. Sometimes this looks like giving you small amounts of work to prove your work and scaling up from there, giving you more and more as the results come in. Even if your work is solid and they are getting results, if they think that you might just up and leave them high and dry when times are tough they may think twice.
Business to Consumer - Transactional Relationships
The goal of the business to consumer digital marketing strategy is to push consumers of products / services to your website or social media to drive sales. Part of this is having a great experience all the way through your funnel. From your ads, emails, or position in search engines to your website & landing pages all the way to your purchasing page, cart, or coming into your establishment. Since you can’t talk to these potential customers in person while they’re browsing the web, you want their perception of your business online to be stellar.
At JBMD Creations we like to think with the Apple model in mind. Price withstanding, if you buy an Apple product you get a luxury experience. From the website you go on, having incredibly compelling graphics, copy and layout, to the ordering process, to the impressive unboxing experience, feeling the quality of the box materials, peeling the plastic off the screen of a device, and the way in which the phone turns on and greets you. You know if you go through this experience that the product you end up with will be phenomenal.
If you want to really impress your customers you want their experience interacting with your total marketing hub (Social media, website, emails, Google My business) to be this streamline and impressive. If they see 140 5 star reviews on your Google My Business page, your website is up to date, speedy, and catered to their experience they’re going to be sold on you. If your competitor has that and you don’t, they’re going to be sold on them. And why wouldn’t they be? It’s your responsibility as a business owner with employee’s to pay and customers to serve to get these basics handled.
Business to Business - Targeting
B2B marketing goes after the key decision makers in an organization. While part of a strategy may be getting in front of someone who has connections with that decision maker, the end goal is to eventually reach that decision maker.
It would make no sense to target the lowest level employee, or even their managers – depending on the business structure. While they may be blown away by your idea and shout it from the rooftops, the odds are slim to none that they know the key decision makers and could ever get your message in front of them. Just as it is important in B2C marketing, as we’ll talk about next, to not get your message in front of someone who doesn’t want your products or services, you can’t afford to waste your marketing dollars on the wrong audience.
An example of B2B marketing could be Facebook ads to those in certain business owner groups, starting an SEO campaign based on terms business owners would use when looking for a solution to their problem, and PPC campaigns focused on those same kinds of terms.
For SEO, this could look like “Grand Rapids SEO company”. While a consumer could search for this same phrase, a business owner certainly would as well. They’d be looking for someone to do their business’s SEO work.
Business to Consumer - Targeting
When it comes to business to consumer targeting, you’re looking at a much more broad base of individuals. If you’re doing construction work and want to find new customers that are homeowners, you’ve got a lot more people to market to. Your strategies become more broad. With a Google or Facebook campaign you could target individuals in the 25-65 age range, over a certain income, living in a certain location. If you target an area that has mostly homes instead of apartment complexes and at that age range, your marketing is fairly targeted.
You can also target those who aren’t necessarily the “key decision maker” such as a kid who sees an ad for a new bicycle. They might convince their parents that they need that bike and you have to see how cool that ad for it is!
B2C marketing is a bit simpler than B2B marketing, but it is helpful to show the two side by side to get a clearer understanding of the difference targeting can make between them.
Business to Business - Logic
A lot of B2C marketing is based on emotion, how the consumer will feel when they have this new product or service that will solve their problem. While a B2B solution would also feel good, business decisions should never be made on emotion. Business owners want hard data as to why what you’re selling to them will be a good investment. This requires facts, numbers and possibly referrals to make that case. Their team is going to be going over these numbers to make sure the return on investment works out on paper. Having confidence in your business is great but you’ll need a lot of hard data to back it up.
Business to Consumer - Emotions
As mentioned above, a lot of consumer buying decisions are made on emotion. How they’ll feel with this new pair of shoes, what this new beauty product will do for their self image, or how this brand new deck will make them feel about the home they live in.
The marketing must be created in this manner. You want to sell with emotions, how the consumer will feel once they have your product or service. How great the end result will be for them. While they’ll still sometimes need hard data to rationalize their purchase, stoking their emotions is a big part of the strategy.
These few pillars will help you guide your strategies in marketing to consumers vs marketing to businesses. There is some overlap between the two but there are also some key differences that are required to be taken seriously, and to make sure your efforts and marketing budget are used in a way that makes sense. It can be overwhelming to figure out every detail but having the fundamentals down can save you a lot of wasted time and effort.