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How is marketing different for B2B and B2C audience?


18th December 2020

Marketing is only effective as its fitness for purpose. That’s an obvious point to make, perhaps, but it also bears repeating: there are enough examples of marketing going wrong, or not achieving its aims, to suggest that not everyone is alive to the truism!

The critical question for any marketing campaign is this: to whom are you speaking? The audience must dictate every aspect of a marketing campaign. You can only achieve results if you’re aiming your message at the right people. And to do that, you need to know who those people are.

Take the time-honoured division between B2B and B2C marketing. The former targets other businesses; the latter your customers. It shouldn’t need stating that these are two very different audiences, with potentially several further sub-groups within them. It follows that your methods and messages have to be different for each.

Think digitally: when a B2B client or a B2C client types a term into their search bar, they will be looking for different things. To capture both target markets, you need to optimise for both phrases. Of course, there will be overlap, too – but don’t rely on it.

Critically, B2B and B2C marketing are based in different skill-sets: the first relies primarily on relationship building; the second on ease and quality of transactions. But both of these are driven by branding – albeit different aspects of the same.

Much emphasis is rightly placed by designers on logos and colourways – on the visual elements that knit together any brand, whether online or otherwise. But these choices need to be informed by a deeper understanding of what a company is – because only by understanding a business’s values will a brand make sense to all its audiences.

What does this mean? A B2B relationship is often built over time, and via personal interactions; but every exchange with a B2B lead should be informed by the very values that are embedded in a business’s brand. Likewise, a B2C lead needs to be led through any website or other transaction process seamlessly: brand experience contributes a lot to this and helps create an environment in which the client feels guided and cared for.

In other words, B2B and B2C can sometimes be different sides of the same coin: your marketing to them can be complementary rather than entirely distinct. The trick is to have strong foundations – good branding, great design, a considered UX – which can be deployed appropriately in different niches.

B2B clients, for example, are often much more precise in interest and rational in decision-making than B2C leads. B2C customers can be segmented and passed through a pre-ordained sales funnel since their larger numbers permit a greater reliance on demographic targeting, emotional appeals and so on.

B2B clients must often be targeted on a much more granular level – through very specific analysis of search behaviour, for instance, or by incorporating jargon and professional terminology in your copy. Even more specifically, B2B marketing needs to locate the right person in any given firm – the decision-maker. In B2C marketing, every lead is a decision-maker themselves!

Ultimately, B2B and B2C want the same thing: to buy products and services which have value to them. Understand how they measure value – and how they make decisions – is key to optimising your marketing to achieve the desired goals. And that is how marketing is different for B2B and B2C marketing.

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