B2B vs B2C marketing strategies follow divergent paths to the same goal: connecting with potential leads. If you limit your marketing efforts to the strategy ascribed to your environment, then you’re limiting your growth potential.
This is what led us to break out of the B2B vs B2C marketing battle.
Like all businesses, we were seeking growth. And how do you grow a business? By gaining more customers.
Customers are the largest source of variation in the value stream. There’s a world of difference in terms of likes and dislikes, standards, budgets, individual market demands, intent & personas.
Sure, it’d be easier to secure those leads without variation to consider. But isn’t variation the spark that ignites imagination?
Variation pushes businesses beyond their baseline. Moreover, it breeds innovation. Variation presents the challenge of holding the customer’s attention. And with that challenge comes the need for a solid strategy to edge out the competition.
Learn more about our B2B marketing services and how we can create a successful marketing campaign for your business.
Our objective here isn’t to just point out B2B vs B2C marketing differences. It’s to reveal key opportunities to step outside of the box and challenge the status quo.
Our B2B marketing company has experienced great success in taking a more customer-centered approach and adopting strategies that are generally seen as outside of our environment.
We challenge you to find ways to combine and utilize both strategies, unchain your potential, and watch your business outgrow the competition.
Degrees of Separation
Of all of the factors that separate B2B vs B2C marketing strategies, this one is the most obvious.
For example, manufacturers funnel the vast majority of their efforts into product production. After, they tend to leave it up to distributors to transport those products and then retail centers to connect with the end users.
The B2C strategy is far more direct, lives outside of the boring corporate space, and takes advantage of multiple pathways and methods for sharing and connecting via brand messaging.
It also tends to be exciting and dynamic, specifically because it’s directed at and appeals to the end user.
It’s important for B2B businesses to not ignore these degrees of separation. A breakdown in the distribution or messaging pathway–between your product or service on one end and the user on the other–could seriously affect your brand or business.
Key takeaway: Take a P2P (people-to-people) or H2H (human-to-human) approach when making customer connections.
This is another major factor that distinguishes B2C businesses. Unfortunately, B2B businesses tend to assume that their target audience can only be reached within the contexts and confines of work.
But this isn’t always–nor should it be–the case.
Placing a corporate identity on an individual decision maker within an organization is dehumanizing.
So put yourself in their shoes.
Try to realize that, while life outside of work is different, it’s not detached from their passion and commitment to their work. Keep that in mind and try to reach them on a more personal channel.
Speak to the success of their business and target at least one of their pain points. Reach them at a human level, and you’ll have broken one of the most common B2B marketing barriers.
Key takeaway: Spend time researching your customer and how they communicate in and outside of work.
B2B companies tend to present themselves in a straightforward and very corporate way.
This approach lacks the impactful branding style that’s common among B2C businesses. It’s a fine line to walk, but when done well, B2B brands can really stand out from the crowd and connect with their audience.
The key, of course, is knowing the customer.
Developing a customer persona to match to your brand is so important. If you haven’t yet researched and developed a specific persona for your target customer, we suggest you do it now.
Another critical element of branding, particularly in this digital age, is your website.
And man, have we seen some bad ones.
A fresh, user-friendly & responsive website should be just as important in the business to business environment as it is the business to customer territory.
Key takeaway: B2B branding doesn’t have to be outdated or boring. Consider a more lively approach, or even a brand refresh, in order to appeal to a modern audience.
Marketing budgets are also very different.
B2B businesses are more likely to spend money on their own internal marketing group and projects. For example, once a B2B business reaches a certain size, it begins to develop its own internal marketing department.
The core of the cost at that point becomes salaries and benefits instead of market outreach.
Direct to consumer businesses, on the other hand, more often partner with outsourced marketing agencies that specialize in marketing to target audiences. They also might they piece together subscription services to accomplish their mission.
There are pros and cons to both, as always.
It’s easy to say that overall costs can be reduced by outsourcing your marketing functions to an external team. But there’s value to be found in working with a flexible, efficient, and expert marketing team outside of your organization.
We’ve seen many B2B businesses implement their marketing efforts on the cheap. The saying “you get what you pay for” is true in this case.
Your marketing plan and budget should line up with your product valuation, volume goals, and the size of the market you are trying to reach.
Key takeaway: Question where your marketing budget is directed and connect it to your goals and values.
Product vs Service-Based Businesses
This is one key area where we can actually draw comparisons between B2B and B2C businesses. Because both can be product or service-based.
Product-based businesses deal in form, fit, and function. These aspects are what make up a tangible product.
“Form” includes the design, shape, and size of a product.
“Fit” relates to how one piece, component, or assembly interacts with another. It also speaks to how customers use a product, such that a mobile phone must fit the average user’s hand.
“Function” describes the product’s action or involves how it responds to user interaction. One could argue that services provide form, fit, and function, but you have to reach pretty far to get there.
In some ways, product-based marketing is already easier because you’re selling something tangible. That said, there are elements of service-based businesses that can be used to reinforce product-based strategy.
The traditional product-based approach only considers four out of the seven “P’s.”
The first P is the product itself, which we discussed in terms of form, fit, and function. Next is price, which, if you really know your customers, should be simple to define based on what the market value will bear.
The third P is promotion, the actual advertising strategy. Last is placement: the physical location that makes the product available to customers.
Service-based marketing strategy emphasizes three other P’s in addition to price: physical evidence, people, and process.
Why should all seven matter to B2B companies?
Because manufacturing customers, for example, care about all of them. They want to see the inside of the operation, the physical environment where the product they bought and use is produced. And, of course, that physical environment includes the people and processes that created the product.
Key takeaway: Product and service-based companies should utilize all seven P’s in their marketing strategy, all the time.
Language & Messaging
B2B businesses tend to speak a certain language–call it industry jargon. They also tend to assume that their customers understand this language because their customers happen to be other businesses.
This isn’t the case for B2C companies.
The challenge they have with language is two-fold. The first part has to do with the keywords customers use to search for products and services. The second part is how those keywords connect to a product or service as described on-page.
In terms of messaging, there’s incredible potential in the business to business marketing world to better connect companies with their customers. Sure, your audience understands your acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations. But that doesn’t mean the message is easy or compelling.
The absolute drive to be technical can just as easily work against your efforts, especially in terms of connecting with potential clients who are new to the market or industry.
Connecting with a lead isn’t forging a bond between company names or brands or buildings. It’s a bond between people. You’re connecting with a person or group of people who have a need or desire for what we’re offering.
Like we’ve said already: if there’s room for growth, there’s room for change and challenging the status quo.
Key takeaway: The business to business world tends to forget that customers aren’t their jobs or the companies they work for. So build out a glossary of compelling language and terms that they’ll understand and speak to them on a human level.
Social Media Platforms
Selecting the right social media platforms can feel like checking boxes. For example, Facebook has dominated the social channels for so long that most businesses immediately put it to use.
That’s the worst reason to choose a platform.
Social media is about engaging and making quality connections. First and always make the effort to discover and pick platforms based on where your audience actually is.
Your products should also play a role in determining which channels to use. On the one hand, Facebook marketing is appropriate if, say, you connect to customers instead of other businesses.
On the other hand, if you’re an OEM, skip Facebook and get on LinkedIn. Because sure enough, 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to share content. It’s the most popular B2B social media platform.
If your internal operation is clean and impressive, you’ll get a lot of value out of YouTube. Use it to show off the quality of your products and processes.
Truth is, 70% of marketers in B2B space plan to spend more time on YouTube because they’re starting to see the value of real human connection that video brings.
Brand relevance should also inform which channels you use. If your brand is big and well known, it’s generally expected that your presence will exist in all available channels.
Key takeaway: Pick one social media platform where your customers are and dominate.
B2B +B2C: A Unique Growth Strategy
Understanding how the nature of your marketing environment differs from other types of business can be helpful in evaluating your current strategy.
We’ve discovered tons of value in taking a step back to look at the bigger picture. Stepping back can reveal bottlenecks, defects, and missed opportunities with your marketing strategies.
Of course, we didn’t address all of the B2B vs B2C marketing differences in this article because that wasn’t our point. We wanted to demonstrate how many–if not most–of the differences come down to nothing more than choice.
Don’t choose to place limitations on your marketing efforts just because your business falls into one or the other category.
Combining B2B and B2C marketing efforts will make for a dynamic, comprehensive & unique strategy for growth.