3 Key Differences in B2B and B2C Approaches to Digital Marketing

by on August 31, 2012

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Regardless of whether your business sells goods or services to individuals (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), the basicsB2B-vs-B2C-marketing remain the same. There’s a market to think about and a business plan to execute. And if you’re reading this, you are probably thinking about digital marketing as a part of your overall marketing strategy and wondering how it can help your business grow.

Confluence clients represent a mix of B2B and B2C businesses. So in early conversations we often get asked to explain in what way our approach differs when we work on a digital strategy for a B2C vs. a B2B client.

While it’s true that the buyer of any service or product is ultimately an individual, the path to getting there differs in significant ways. 

1. B2B vs B2C Purchase Motivation

The motivation to purchase for customers in the B2C relationship is primarily based on emotional appeal (likes, desires, needs, etc.), while the purchase motivation for B2B businesses is based more on a cost vs. return (ROI) calculation.  B2B buyers usually base buying decisions on whether or not the product will save them (and their business) time, money and/or resources.

Once you understand the purchasing motivation of your buyers, whether they are consumers or other businesses, you will be able to decide which approach will get your product or service in front of the right audience. In some cases a blended strategy combining elements of B2C and B2B thinking may be appropriate.

2. B2B vs B2C Messaging Tactics

The messaging in B2B and B2C should be different.  The marketing message in B2B should focus on how the product will help the business acquire more clients, grow their market or help their employees.  The more information on the potential for a high return on investment you are able to communicate when B2B marketing, the better.

For example, a company selling umbrellas to a B2B customer would focus their messaging on how buying umbrellas in bulk from them will result in the business seeing more return on investment when they resell them.

When marketing to consumers, make sure you are focusing your marketing tactics on highlighting the benefits of using the product or service.  Because emotion plays an important role in the individual purchasing decisions, the marketing message should focus on how the product will personally benefit the customer.

For example, that same company selling umbrellas to a B2C customer would focus their messaging on the quality of their umbrellas and why people should buy an umbrella from them, instead of anywhere else.

3. B2B vs B2C Mobile Marketing     

With more and more people using their mobile phones for everything from shopping to doing business to gaming to other forms of entertainment, it’s no wonder that both B2B and B2C businesses are trying to figure out the best ways to use the mobile channel to reach their audience.  Mobile marketing tactics will differ for a B2B vs. a B2C focused company.

Mobile marketing to B2Bs should focus on efficiency providing the buyer with all of the necessary information they need in a clear and concise message, meaning that the ad should focus on ROI.  Mobile marketing to B2Bs isn’t as popular as mobile marketing to B2Cs because mobile marketing is less logic-based and more focused on entertainment and favors a quick sales cycle. Mobile marketing is best for a low-risk, low-cost, instant gratification type of individual purchase (want those red shoes on Zappos now!) vs. an expensive, considered purchase that is more typical of a B2B sale situation.

Mobile marketing as it is today is far more effective in reaching B2Cs than B2Bs. If you’ve ever played a game on or downloaded an app to your mobile phone, you have seen mobile marketing, which primarily focuses on being visually appealing, compelling, and entertaining for the viewer.

Bottom line – there should be a difference in your approach to digital marketing when you’re marketing to an individual and when you’re marketing to a company/business (group of people).  Understand what types of customers are using which channels and target your marketing to be relevant to the appropriate audience.

Do you market to your B2B and B2C clients similarly, or do you already have separate approaches for both? What is different in your approaches to B2B marketing and your approaches to B2C marketing?

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