The B2B marketing vs. B2C marketing argument has been around for some time now and it’s an even more critical argument as when we talk online or digital marketing. Regardless of what we’re shopping for these days, we do a tremendous amount of research online so that needs to be part of our marketing process. But you simply can’t use some of the same tools in the same ways for these two audiences. And the faster you realize that, the more effective you’ll be in your marketing efforts.
B2B Sales Cycle
One the most important concepts in the B2B marketing process is the length of the sales cycle. It’s typically much longer than that of the B2C sale. In most B2B buying decisions, there are a lot more people involved in the buying process because there is usually more risk (and reward) associated with B2B products and services. Because the solution is likely to touch a number of people within an organization, you want to ensure that those tasked with using the product or service support the solution as well.
Another important note is that because of the length of the buying cycle, a B2B purchase involves building a relationship between the buyer and seller. After all, the deal won’t be closed on-line so it’s important to have established a go-to person that’s representing each side of the deal.
Most B2B solutions have an element of complexity and customization that prevents them from being off-the-shelf commodity-like items. The solutions have a certain amount of specialization that goes along with them which means the market opportunity is nowhere close to being the same as the opportunity to sell tablets like the iPad.
Because of these differences, it’s important to use the marketing tools that best meet the needs of the B2B audience. The audience is looking to be educated on whole other scale about the solution and how that solution has helped other businesses in similar situations and how it’s helps to save time and / or money for other businesses.
B2B Content Marketing
B2B buying decisions are more fact-based. Because we have to present and defend recommendations for purchase, we want to ensure that we have adequate research to support our decision to propose certain products and services. This is why white papers, reports, and case studies are instrumental in the content marketing provided by companies today. We need educational information that speaks to a company’s credibility to deliver what it says it will.
In the B2C world, buying decisions tend to be more emotionally-charged and less data driven. Taking a look at the difference in online messaging demonstrates this rather well. A B2C website is likely have far more product images, animations and other glitz, where B2B sites tends to be a little more text driven with case studies and downloadable pdf documents for consumption.
Targeting is another area in which there the two types of businesses differ in their approaches. B2C businesses tend to cast a fairly wide net and then establish a number of segments. B2B businesses typically cater to a very specific niche so their website and content are not really designed for viewing by a mass audience.
The bottom line is that you want to select those digital marketing tools that best serve your specific audience. Regardless of the audience though, you still need to use those tools to build know, like, and trust with that audience.
Are there other ways in which they differ that you think are important to consider? Drop your comments below. I’d love to hear them.