There’s a lot of content out there geared toward marketers. How to increase your web traffic, how to increase your sales, etc. If you look at it, you’ll notice that some of this content has the words “for B2B” tacked onto it, while other content has “for B2C.” What’s the difference?
You probably already know the difference between the acronyms themselves. B2B is “Business to Business”: companies that sell supplies or services to other companies. Whereas B2C is “Business to Consumer,” and refers to companies that sell to individuals. But the real question is, what’s the difference between their approaches? Obviously the two types of marketing must do things differently, otherwise there would be no reason to specify one or the other. So here’s a quick overview of the difference between the two.
While B2C is more product-driven, B2B is more relationship-driven. This can be difficult to understand, especially since, with social media marketing, building relationships is an important part of any sales transaction. But here’s the difference: with B2C, your ultimate goal is to sell a product to a customer. With B2B, your ultimate goal is to sell them a plethora of products over time.
Businesses have suppliers for the products they need. And if you can become their supplier of your product, they’ll come back to you the next time they need it, and the next, giving you a steady stream of business. Which is why it’s so important to maintain B2B relationships: so that they don’t forget about you between one purchase and the next.
B2C companies tend to have shorter buying cycles than B2B. In B2C marketing, your goal is, generally, to get the customer to your product page so that they can purchase what they’re looking for. A B2B marketing campaign has a number of different steps and stages that generally include quite a bit more direct communication. Using e-mails and phone calls, it’s the B2B company’s job to address the buyer’s questions and concerns in an attempt to convince them of why their product is the best choice for them personally, so that the buyer can then convince their superiors and get them to sign off on the purchase. The whole process can take weeks, and that’s before the customer is transferred to a sales representative to make the final push for them to buy.
A B2C company will focus mainly on blogs, videos and other short-form content to appeal to their potential customers, along with a few white papers, e-books and other kinds of long-form content for those who are ready for the next stage. A B2B company will focus more on the long-form content, with many more white papers and e-books available, which they can send to potential customers directly, periodically over the course of the buying process, as evidence of what the company can do for them.
Finally, a B2C company, once the sale is made, may put the customer on their e-mail newsletter list and send them periodic automated updates or product suggestions, in the hopes that the customer will think of them again next time. A B2B company will actively keep in touch with the customer after the purchase, keeping a record of when they’re likely to require the company’s services again and sending out reminders, making phone calls, etc.
The tactics of a B2B company would be far too aggressive for an individual customer. The tactics of a B2C company aren’t nearly persistent enough to reel in a business. Whatever you’re selling, it’s important to identify your target customers and know how to market to them successfully.