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Five Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing

A key difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the relationship you’re building. Here are five key differences between the two.

The major difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the audience’s role and what they need from the business relationship.

In B2B marketing, we communicate with people in their professional role instead of their personal consumer role. Most B2C marketing messages are aimed at the consumer’s personal lives. Tactics and messaging are built on growing and sustaining the brand perception and relationship as it relates to the consumer’s daily activities outside of the work environment. B2B marketing, on the other hand, is focused on the rapid delivery of business-related information a prospect needs to accomplish their work or make their work life easier. Sounds simple, right? It’s not as easy as one might think. Let’s explore five key differences between the two.

1. It’s All In The Relationship

Why is there a difference between B2B and B2C in the first place? Marketing is marketing. Well, technically yes. And No.

Marketing is about relationships. No matter the message or the medium, your goal is to

  • Connect with your audience
  • Communicate how your product or service will improve their lives
  • Get them to take the next step

Sometimes, the journey from connection to action happens very quickly. The relationship’s cadence depends on what your audience needs and when.

Most B2C audiences aren’t looking for elaborate promises or long-term relationships (at least not right away). They want to find something that meets an immediate need, fits their lifestyle, and delivers on what the ad promised—an unbreakable phone case or the most comfortable shoes ever. The relationship develops after the brand delivers on the promise and continues offering value. That phone case saved your screen from shattering. Those shoes helped you stay on your feet during a double shift.

With B2B audiences, you build more of the relationship before the purchase. Someone looking for new HR software wants to make sure the program is compatible with their business, will make their lives easier, and will be a good long-term investment. Offering helpful information like educational webinars or free product demos shows you understand their pain points and builds confidence that your solution is the right one. That trust grows after you deliver on the promise and provide ongoing support.

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2. B2B Is A Longer Sale

As you may have already guessed, a key difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the timeframe.

The B2C sales cycle is often short. A clothing brand running ads on Instagram only has a few seconds to catch someone’s attention and move them over to the website to make a purchase before the person goes back to scrolling. Many social media apps offer in-app shopping so users don’t even have to leave the feed! The entire buyer’s journey takes a few minutes at the most.

A B2B sale could last months or even years. A robotics supplier for advanced automation has products and services costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Customers won’t be ready to buy within the first few days or months of initial contact. The salesperson has to get to know the potential customer and spend time demonstrating the value of the brand to build trust.

3. B2B Has A Higher Cost Per Sale

B2B brands usually spend more time and resources acquiring new customers. This is because

  • B2B audiences are smaller and more niche
  • B2B has more people involved in the buying process

Selling a payroll and HR platform for small to mid-size manufacturers means your audience is limited to a very specific type of business. Your marketing strategy has to include everyone involved in the decision-making process. Not only executives, but human resource managers, operations, and purchasing. Your niche market and extra touchpoints often mean a higher cost per sale for B2B.

4. B2B Involves Greater Risk

As if the longer sales cycle and higher cost per sale weren’t enough, B2B also carries a higher risk because a campaign’s success depends on a smaller pool of products. In a B2C campaign, a few underperforming products can be balanced out by overperforming ones. An online garden center can afford to stock a few specialty plants because the Supertunias sell out every year.

One underperforming component of a B2B campaign can have a bigger negative impact. A message that doesn’t speak to the target audience or a landing page that doesn’t convert has a greater effect on the campaign’s outcomes and the company’s bottom line.

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5. B2B Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

Traditional marketing advice says B2B marketing should be focused on logic and B2C focused on emotions. But as we’ve already discussed, good marketing is understanding who you’re talking to and what they need. Your audience should determine what you say and how you deliver the message.

B2B marketing doesn’t have to be boring or dry. Just because a B2B customer wants to make the best decision for their business, doesn’t mean you can’t create a personal connection or appeal to their emotions. We are all humans after all! According to HubSpot, 75% of B2B buyers say they use social media when making a purchase and more than 70% of B2B marketing teams are planning to invest in influencer marketing.

Reach Your Audience With DVS

Whether your audience is B2B or B2C, your marketing strategy should have messages and tactics designed to catch their attention and build trust. DVS can help you create a unique strategy that highlights what makes you unique and cultivates relationships to grow your business. Reach out to us with any questions or explore our digital marketing services.


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