For many people, marketing is the same thing regardless of who the target audience is. However, there are some fundamental differences at play between two key forms of marketing which we will discuss here – namely, Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing.
Contrary to some common assumptions, marketing to a target audience of businesses versus marketing to an audience of individual consumers may not be a one-size-fits-all affair. A person buying something for themselves, for example, will have a greatly different emotional experience than someone buying for their company.
In this article, we lay out the fundamental differences in marketing for businesses versus marketing for consumers. Understanding the intricacies of B2B and B2C marketing is essential for any business looking to increase sales and profitability.
Before we examine the differences between these two forms of marketing, it may be useful to flesh out where the two converge. The marketing methods are essentially the same for each type of business, including things such as events, direct marketing, internet marketing, advertising, public relations and word of mouth.
For both B2B and B2C marketing, the starting point should be the same. The two types share common ground in that their first priority is to identify who the customer is and why they need to hear a specific message. It is at this point that the two begin to differentiate – how the marketing is executed, what the marketing pitch says, and the outcome of the marketing method will be much different.
The primary goal of B2C marketing is to convert shoppers into buyers as quickly and aggressively as possible. B2C transactions are all about making the sale as fast as possible, by giving consumers instant access to products both online and in stores.
For this reason, B2C marketing campaigns focus on capturing the consumers attention immediately, and on making the buying process as easy and pain-free as possible from this point onwards. This translates into investing in lots of marketing merchandise, both in-store and online, such as coupons, displays, and visually-appealing store fronts.
B2C marketing campaigns will also offer the consumer special deals or discounts, both online and in-store. To illustrate, a B2C email campaign will encourage the consumer to buy the product immediately. Usually, a link to a landing page will be attached and the whole process of buying the product will be made extremely easy and quick for the customer.
Lastly, B2C marketing campaigns operate on the assumption that consumers are making emotionally charged purchasing decisions, often based on status, desire, or price rather than strictly practical matters.
While the goal of B2B marketing is also ultimately to convert prospects into customers, the process is much longer and much more involved than B2C campaigns. While B2C campaigns attempt to hook customers in quickly and generate fast moving sales transactions, B2B campaigns have to be much subtler.
B2B marketing must focus in on long term relationship building with the businesses they are trying to attract. For this reason, rather than investing in a myriad of short-lived marketing merchandise that can become excess inventory stock, B2B campaigns choose marketing activities that generate leads that can be continually nurtured during the sales cycle.
For B2B campaigns, marketing is more about educating various players in the wider target audience, since purchasing decisions are usually made by multiple people rather than a single individual. Relatedly, purchasing decisions are comparably more rationalistic within B2B transactions than B2C transactions, and for this reason B2B campaigns cannot rely on emotionally-driven marketing schemes.
B2B marketing may involve an email campaign like we see in B2C operations, but this will be the beginning of a long series of marketing activities aimed at building the trust and loyalty of potential customers. The initial email will usually be followed up by direct mailing, telemarketing, newsletters and contact with sales representatives.
Devising a Marketing Plan
When devising a marketing plan for your company, it is essential that you understand the differences and similarities between B2B and B2C marketing. If your target audience is primarily individual consumers, you will want to consider the emotionally-driven aspects of this audience, and your marketing campaigns should operate accordingly.
Conversely, if your target audience is primarily other businesses, then your marketing campaign should involve a long term, integrative procedure which seeks to educate your audience and build productive relationships with them.
Once you have devised your marketing plan, it may be useful to download inventory software. This way, you will be able to track sales trends alongside different marketing campaigns. Downloading inventory software will enable you to trace the success or otherwise of the marketing campaigns you employ, providing insight into the types of marketing methods which have the most appeal to your target audience. Downloading inventory software will be useful for both B2B and B2C marketing, allowing you to tailor your marketing plan to maximise appeal for both businesses and individual consumers.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.