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February 13, 2014

Posted by: Kevin Homer


B2B Marketing vs. B2C Marketing - What's the Difference?

A couple years ago I was asked to give a presentation to a group of students at Drexel University about B2B marketing, but was given little direction as far as what exactly to discuss. So I brought up a topic that comes up frequently with my clients.


After I introduced myself and provided my credentials, I asked the simple question: “What is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?


I received some great answers, such as:


     - Most businesses will react the same way emotionally, whereas consumers are all different.

     - It’s relationship vs. product driven

     - Length of the sales cycle

     - Many other differences that we’re all familiar with.


But then I offered a challenge. I said “What if I told you that B2B and B2C marketing are the same thing?


I got some weird looks, and of course the concept isn't really that extreme. But think about it - when you’re trying to develop a business to business relationship, there is usually a particular contact that you’re working with. If I’m selling printing services and the purchasing agent doesn’t like me for some reason, I’m not working with that company. If I want to redevelop a company’s website and the Marketing Manager isn’t impressed, I’m not working with the company. Suddenly, I’m not trying to build a relationship with a company as much as I am with a single person within the business. A person who has suddenly become my consumer.


How does this marketing process work? Just like with B2C marketing, I need to know my end user. I know that a brochure for office staff is going to be designed with attractive graphics and concise, organized information to makes it visually appealing, whereas the brochure for engineers will include more charts, graphs, and be data-driven. I might know that HR staff is typically younger females, and senior management will typically be closer to middle-aged. Perhaps bilingual materials would be preferred. And of course, outside of the business promotions that I provide, perhaps utilizing social media to form a relationship with my target “consumer” could give me the edge against my competition.


Think about all this for a minute. Suddenly, while I’m promoting my business to another business, I’m thinking with that B2C mentality. So I challenge you… are B2B and B2C marketing really that different?


Tell us what you think!