To many outsiders, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing might seem very similar. After all, both B2B and B2C marketers use the same inbound and outbound marketing techniques and platforms.
Despite their similarities, however, B2B and B2C marketing have a wide variety of differences. In this article, we’ll examine nine ways that B2B marketing differs from B2C marketing, and explain how each may impact your marketing strategies.
1. Longer, More Complicated Sales Cycles
The B2B sales cycle is significantly longer, more complicated and more involved than the B2C sales cycle. It often involves multi-step buying processes and can, in some cases, last for 90-180 days.
Because it can take so much longer to close a deal in B2B than it can in B2C, your business needs to be prepared for a long sales cycle. Keep creating fresh flows of content to keep your inbound marketing machine producing new opportunities.
2. More Complex Products and Services
B2B products and services are far more complex than those available in B2C. They typically serve a wide variety of different functions and require customization and an in-depth understanding of their purpose and value.
Since B2B products typically have a steeper learning curve, a large part of the B2B marketing process involves informing the prospect of the product or service’s use and value.
3. More Complex Selling Propositions
Because B2B products and services are more complicated, they typically have a far more complex selling proposition than B2C products. In B2B, products often have wildly different needs that are all served in different ways by the same product.
For example, think of the needs of a home user of Adobe Photoshop compared to those of a graphic design agency. Since a business may need hundreds of licenses, their sales process is significantly more involved than that of a consumer.
Over the last decade, however, we’ve seen the rise of simplified selling propositions in B2B. Sleek, online products aimed at businesses often use B2C-style techniques to simplify their selling proposition and appeal to a wider audience.
4. Fewer, More Valuable Customers
Most B2B websites receive significantly less traffic than their B2C counterparts. The traffic that they do receive, however, is worth far more on a per-visitor and per-user basis than in B2C.
This is because B2B products and services typically have a small and highly focused target market. Prospects have specific needs that make them more valuable than the wider, less focused audiences targeted in B2C marketing.
5. Closer Relationships With Customers
In B2B, businesses have significantly closer relationships with their customers than in B2C. This is a necessity, as the variety of people involved in the purchase decision and the lengths of the relationships are both larger in B2B than in B2C.
For example, a large enterprise purchasing software requires more than just access to an application. It may require ongoing technical support, customized software to suit its needs and other additional services that require a close relationship.
6. Significantly Different Pricing
While B2B marketing typically involves targeting fewer customers than B2C, many of these customers are involved in significantly larger purchasing decisions. In B2B, contracts are for months or years and products frequently cost thousands of dollars.
Using our software example above, think of the difference in licensing requirements between a home user and a business with 500 employees. Since the scale of usage is much higher in B2B, pricing and purchase significance are very different from B2C.
7. Different Emotions in Marketing
The B2B and B2C buying processes involve significantly different emotions. As B2B customers are more likely to carry out in-depth research, their purchasing tends to be more logical and fact-based, as well as less impulsive, than in B2C marketing.
This isn’t to say that B2B prospects aren’t swayed by emotion – a recent article in Ad Age reinforced that B2B decision-makers are still people – but that they respond to a different type of emotional message than B2C customers.
8. B2B Prospects Do More Research
In B2B, knowing your options matters. Since the difference between one product or service and another could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, B2B prospects tend to be more informed and sophisticated than prospects in B2C.
In fact, B2B prospects want to become more informed about your product. One of the reasons inbound marketing – content marketing, in particular – is so effective in B2B is because it directly educates prospects about your product or service.
9. More People Involved in the Purchase
The B2B sales process involves far more people than the B2C sales process. While B2C offers are marketed directly to the consumer, B2B offers are marketed to the organization as a whole and often reach several people before being purchased.
Because the decision-making unit (DMU) is much larger in B2B, it’s important that your marketing efforts appeal to everyone in the sales process, from the company’s CEO all the way down to the people who will be interacting with your product.
This often means marketing your product or service in different ways to different people. While one person in the B2B buying process may be influenced by the price of your product or service, another may be more influenced by its functionality.
You can also market to a champion or evangelist who markets your product for you within the organization you’re targeting. Reaching out to one individual is often the best way to break into a large organization as a B2B marketer.
So How Can You Consumerize the B2B Experience?
When you think of B2B marketing, what pops into your mind? For many people, B2B marketing is a slow, involved process involving long sales calls, email conversations and back-and-forth between departments.
While the B2B marketing process will never be as smooth as in B2C, marketers can apply many of the principles of B2C marketing – from emotion-driven advertising tactics to simplified payment processes – to B2B. After all, businesses are people too.
Author Bio: Danny is a content writer and editor for DiscoverCloud.com. After working a great many odd-jobs, including, but not limited to: editing, fitness training, window washing, and valeting, he has finally found solace in writing marketing strategies, tools, and tips for online business.