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B2B vs. B2C Marketing Efforts – Important Distinctions


The only difference between marketing to businesses (B2B marketing) and marketing to consumers (B2C marketing) is the audience, right? Not quite. Of course, there might be some similarities between the two strategies, but you’ll never get the best results if you treat them the same. 

Here is what you need to know about B2B vs. B2C marketing, how your marketing efforts should differ, and a few ways effective strategies will overlap.

B2B vs. B2C – What’s the Difference?

B2B (business-to-business) companies provide products and services that serve the needs of other businesses. Examples of B2B products and services include manufacturing equipment, cloud storage, and project management software.

B2C (business-to-consumer) companies sell products and services to consumers. Examples include clothing companies, food delivery services, and streaming media apps.

6 Ways B2B and B2C Marketing Efforts Are Different

There are clear differences between B2B and B2C marketing. Each approach affects the content, tone, type, and delivery method. Your marketing campaigns might share the same technical best practices, such as using longtail keywords to improve SEO or avoiding spammy emails, but understanding the differences between the two types of marketing will help you achieve better results.

Here are six significant ways B2B and B2C marketing efforts are different:

Businessman-making-decision1. Decision Maker

The lines between B2B and B2C marketing become most pronounced when it comes to the target audience.

B2B marketers, in general, will target the key decision-makers within an organization, which might be different than the end-user of the product or service. For example, it doesn’t matter if hundreds or thousands of workers will use a manufacturing device. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) or someone in a similar position will make the final purchasing decision. So, B2B marketers will gear their efforts towards those stakeholders.

In contrast, B2C marketers sell directly to the consumers who will use the products or services. So a person who sees an ad for a smart TV or a new car must be convinced that it’s the right product to suit their needs.

2. Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process is likely to look very different in a business transaction versus a personal one. B2B customers are going to take much longer to make a decision for several reasons. First, there might be a lot of money involved, so it makes sense to exercise caution. There may also be several decision-makers from various departments involved in the purchase.

B2C marketing is a bit different. Many consumers know that they have a pain point and are ready to address it. If your marketing message is compelling, they might do some additional research before purchasing, but the timeline before taking action is often quite short. 

3. Underlying Motivation

Motivations for business versus personal purchases are probably going to be different. B2B and B2C customers are both looking to derive some sort of benefits from your products or services. Sometimes, those benefits are similar, such as saving time, but the underlying motivation is often slightly different. 

For example, B2C customers generally make a purchase that will somehow improve their lives. A new shirt might make them happy or a new bed more comfortable. Most B2B purchases are made with the goal of improving business results, such as the bottom line. 


4. Emotion vs. Logic

Given that underlying motivations for a purchase might differ between a B2B and B2C customer, how you appeal to each audience will probably also be different. With B2B marketing, the goal is a slow and steady process of moving a lead to the next stage in the sales funnel. This might include anything from starting a subscription to setting up a free demonstration.

B2C marketing appeals much more to emotion than B2B does. Consumers are more likely to make quick buying decisions based on a convincing ad or an entertaining social media post. Depending on your audience, you can find out what works best for your brand and leverage those strategies. 

5. Communication Methods

Unlike B2C audiences, B2B customers expect sales and marketing teams to cater to them with personalized content. Instead of sending off ebooks or links to demonstration videos, you might need to invest in a case study that addresses your prospect’s specific industry and pain points.

B2C customers don’t have this expectation. They do like interacting with brands on social medial, but, for the most part, they enjoy being informed and entertained by the brands they support. What they don’t like is heavy industry jargon.

6. Return on Investment

Return on investment (ROI) is essential for both customers and marketers when discussing B2B vs. B2C marketing. B2B customers insist on knowing their ROI upfront so that they can make data-driven purchasing decisions. Conversely, B2C customers are more interested in comfort, entertainment, and deals than the ROI of a purchase.

However, marketers also need to understand that most B2B products are sold at higher price points, requiring fewer sales to reach goals. However, the market is highly-targeted, requiring a specialized approach. Most B2C channels, on the other hand, offer mass appeal and can reach a broader audience at more affordable rates. 

How B2B and B2C Marketing Strategies Intersect

That’s an awful lot of differences! Aren’t there some similarities? After all, you’re still marketing to people at the end of the day. In truth, both B2B and B2C sales require a solid commitment to customer services. According to Qualdrics XM Institute, there is a 38% difference in the likelihood of recommending a company if the customer experience is “good” versus if it is “poor.” This is across 20 industries, meaning the impact of a positive customer experience on the decision-making process is similar for all audiences.

Another similarity between B2B and B2C sales is that customers are likely to be well-informed about products and services. Today’s consumers can leverage so many more resources to research products and services on their own before making a purchase. They expect the sales process to go beyond a simple list of features and benefits.

Optimize Your B2B and B2C Marketing Strategies

It’s a common saying that business isn’t personal. So it only makes sense that there will be differences between B2B and B2C marketing. Understanding how to reach these two audiences will make your marketing strategies more successful, getting you the results you ultimately desire.

If you need help defining your B2B or B2C marketing strategies or gaining a better understanding of what separates the two, RSM Marketing can help you. We specialize in creating customized, results-driven digital marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. Interested? Put a meeting on our calendar, and let’s talk!

Scott has a passion for growing companies using marketing and consulting with businesses to make their processes better. As a speaker and author, Scott loves to share knowledge and ideas. Scott is the President of RSM Marketing.

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