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B2B vs. B2C Marketing

Lynette Rambo | September 18, 2015 

Whether your company caters to individual consumers or to other businesses, by now you know how critical a good digital marketing program is to your success. While there are some similarities in marketing to both consumers and businesses, the experience of a person buying for themselves is very different than that of someone who is buying for a company. Each represents different cost factors, decision-making processes and emotional experiences.

The fundamental principles of marketing apply whether you are targeting a business or an individual. For instance, with both Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B), you must:

  • Identify who your customers are.
  • Determine their needs and how your product or service can fulfill them.
  • Price your products or services competitively to align with the current market.
  • Provide quality customer service.
  • Communicate the value of your product or service to the right audience – the right message to the right person at the right time.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

While there are some similarities in marketing to both consumers and businesses, the experience of a person buying for themselves is very different than that of someone who is buying for a company.

B2C buyers are more product driven, the sales cycle is shorter, and smaller dollar amounts are usually involved. This group is more prone to spontaneous purchasing and generally responds well to point-of-purchase activities and merchandizing (coupons, offers, displays).  Marketing tactics often revolve around creating a specific desire in the consumer – one that converts to a quick buy.

With B2C, the customer gets to know your brand through repetition via multiple channels (email, social media, point-of-purchase displays, pay-per-click ads, etc.). Emotional factors and personal benefits often play a role in the purchasing decision. In other words, how does your brand make buyers feel about themselves? How does your product increase their security or comfort, elevate their status in the eyes of others or in their own eyes?

To find the best deal from a trusted source, this buyer often conducts multi-channel research, which includes not only your brand but the competition’s, as well. With that in mind, B2C marketing should incorporate trust-building and encourage loyalty as well as sell a product or service. This can be a fickle group. While a strong brand can encourage loyalty, you also have to stay in front of your customers and nurture them. Knowing this customer’s journey is critical to developing an effective nurturing campaign that goes beyond the initial purchase.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

Successful business-to-business marketing is built on personal relationships that are nurtured over time. This process focusses on building trust and confidence between you, your brand and the buyer. The method of message delivery is not as important as timing and delivering the right message.

B2B targets a smaller customer base with a much larger budget and purchasing power. There is generally a longer, more complex sales cycle that involves multiple tasks – and potentially multiple decision makers – to get to the buy.

This buyer represents a more rational decision process based on the needs of the company and long-term value. Therefore, marketing should focus more on education than on sales. You must be able to show how your service or product will not only meet the needs of the company, but why. And, have the data to back it up. This customer is looking for facts that back up your claims – and a face to put with the product.  That’s why building a relationship with the decision makers is critical to the success of this process.

For a B2B buyer, brand recognition may get your foot in the door, but it does not guarantee a sale. When a company is ready to buy, key decision makers have already done a lot of research and have decided they want or need a certain product or service. Marketing efforts should reflect this level of sophistication and knowledge and focus more on how your product or service can meet their business needs and solve their problems long-term. Once you’ve cemented the relationship, the B2B buyer is more apt to stay loyal to your brand.

In Summary

When marketing to a consumer, the goal is usually to keep increasing the number of customers and sales. While quality is still important, quantity is even more important to keep a business going. A consumer’s buying decision is often influenced by emotion and the personal benefits the product or service will provide. Consumers generally come through a variety of channels and will be less interested in a long message. Get right to the point! And, make it easy for them to understand the benefits and value of your product.

In B2B, while it is important to acquire new customers, it’s even more important to keep those you already have. Especially for a small business, the loss of one really good corporate customer can make or break the bottom line. So, again, relationship building and nurturing are critical to keeping your business customers happy. First understand how the buyer operates within the confines of his or her organizational structure. There will often be “higher-ups” that need to be convinced through proofs and measures. More in-depth materials and, often, face-to-face meetings and presentations will be required to educate them on what your product or service can do for them and their customers or employees.

How ListEngage Can Help

ListEngage has years of experience implementing digital marketing strategies for both B2B and B2C. We’d be glad to show you how to leverage the Salesforce Marketing Cloud and CRM to help you meet your sales goals.

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Lynette Rambo

Lynette Rambo | Marketing Consultant

Lynette Rambo is a Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant, Administrator, Email Specialist, and Trainer. She has worked in marketing and communications for more than 20 years and with Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2012. As a Marketing Consultant and Trainer for ListEngage, Lynette helps clients learn Marketing Cloud functionality, email marketing best practices, and effective campaign management. She also works with the Salesforce CRM and connecting Sales and Marketing initiatives. You can contact Lynette at