How Does B2B Marketing Compare to B2C?

This is a question that I get asked frequently and often wonder at times myself: How does B2B marketing compare with B2C marketing? In specific areas of implementation, like creativity and audience targeting, B2B marketing has specific qualities that may make it easier to implement than projects aimed toward B2C audiences.

While both types of marketing focus on targeting a specific persona or audience, the way we go about it can vary. Just as this doesn’t mean one is ‘better’ than the other (that would be like saying books are better than bananas; it just doesn’t make sense), simplicity can be difficult to quantify. Here are a few areas where B2B marketing can shine.

Creativity

For someone who came from the B2C side of marketing into working with clients who target B2B industries, I often thought initially that B2B marketing wasn’t as creative as B2C. While that is certainly the case for some campaigns, I have realized that it is on a per-company basis, instead of comparing the two styles as a whole. 

There are dozens of campaigns for B2B companies that are thoughtful, engaging, and successful in their messaging without coming across as dry and boring. While the list is too long to go into here, good examples include a surviving a zombie attack campaign by SunGard, the Healthy Workplace Project by Kimberly-Clark (which is an awesome example of a company that is doing B2B AND B2C correctly), and American Express’ Open Forum, which is a content curation platform that has made an awesome impact for professionals looking to learn more from leading business leaders. The Open Forum has evolved from a simple content portal to a destination for business professionals to learn and connect through webinars, networking, Q&A community, and more. In addition, American Express as a brand is reinforced through its top level navigation in the forum:

Open Forum American Express B2B marketing

Notice the CTAs at the top; and user options in the menu bar.

Targeting

One thing B2B marketing has going for it that is usually much more difficult for B2C marketers is the ability to target a very specific niche. If a B2B company is offering a product that only decision-makers at their companies are allowed to sign off on, then by default, that audience is going to be a lot more specific than a B2C product that almost anyone could use (e.g. facial tissues or toothbrushes).

This level of advanced targeting can make B2B campaigns a lot easier, because drilling down to your audience’s needs, interests, and behavior will make your strategies much more effective. When possible, always drill down to the smallest audience you can.

For instance, instead of thinking of your audience as “manufacturing companies” think of it as “decision-makers and executives in charge of procurement at large-production manufacturing facilities.” This specific audience, when looked at in a new way, may also lead to a better perspective on targeting businesses.

Focus On Business

Is B2B Marketing Easier Than B2C? The third area B2B marketers shine is through it’s focus on the business, and what your product can provide a business, instead of hoping to cater to a single person’s specific personality.

While I’ve advocated in the past that B2B marketing is still targeting single individuals who are making the decisions (which still holds true), the true difference lies in the fact that B2B purchasers are making a decision for their company or career, instead of for their own personal lives. 

This focus on business instead of a person’s personality and what they like to do in their free time can help some B2B campaigns have a clearer approach, instead of trying to accommodate all facets of what makes up a whole person.

Final Thoughts

No matter what direction your B2B marketing is headed, it’s important to realize that doing what’s best over what is easy or fastest is what is going to make you stand out. Focus on sharing a part of the product or service story that hasn’t been told, or could be given in a new way, and you are on the path toward an engaging and successful campaign.

Screenshot taken Sept 30, 2014. Other image via Pixabay.

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