What you may not know about the differences between marketing to businesses (B2B) and marketing to consumers (B2C) may be hurting your bottom line.
The fact is, business buyers approach purchasing decisions differently than consumers. And appreciating those differences will help you to customize your marketing plan – and increase your revenues.
Vive La Difference
Let’s begin with what drives the average consumer to make a purchase, versus what convinces a business buyer to make a purchase.
Consumers make purchases that are…
• Driven by emotion, even to the point of buying on impulse;
• Based on getting the best value for their money;
• Based on brand loyalty as a result of repeat imagery and information; and are
• Product driven
When marketing to the consumer, businesses have…
• A larger target market to work with;
• A significantly more aggressive approach to selling their products.
Marketing campaigns that are directed at consumers are relatively short. Online and offline coupons, online articles and reviews, handouts, email marketing, store displays, and micro-sites are designed to attract consumers and encourage them to buy now.
Businesses offer short-term bargain opportunities that motivate consumers to make their purchase at the store, or online – before the offer expires.
Smart businesses that market to consumers know that providing excellent customer service builds brand confidence, contributing to a loyal consumer base.
In order to build credibility, marketers must provide information for consumers that help build trust. This can be achieved through consistent branding campaigns that utilize multiple tools, such as:
• Online articles
• Social media campaigns
Business buyers make purchases that are…
• Based on their relationship with the vendor;
• The best value for the money;
• Based on rational need, rather than impulsive desire;
• Beneficial – they want to know how your product or service can benefit them in terms of dollars and cents.
Can your product save them money, or increase their revenue?
Marketing to businesses means…
• That the B2B target market is generally smaller, and more focused;
• The sales cycle for a B2B transaction is going to be longer, requiring more one-on-one communications between your buyers and sales representatives;
• Decisions aren’t based on “buy now” campaigns, but rather in knowing that your company will be around in the future to service what you sell, and to provide information and training, if needed.
• That because purchases made by businesses are generally not done by a single person, you must develop a sound relationship with your business customers that will satisfy the needs and concerns of multiple people.
B2B Marketing Is A Bit Like Fishing
Your marketing campaigns to businesses should be content-driven, with information that is of interest to the decision-maker. Informative white papers, case studies, emails and online PR campaigns are the first step to beginning the relationship that will (hopefully) end in the buyer making a purchase from your company.
Rather than promoting “buy now” propositions, your marketing process should take place in several stages. As the decision maker goes through the process of finding the right vendor, you as a marketer should be there every step of the way.
From the initial stages of problem identification, to information research and finally offering a solution, you must provide a consistent message throughout the process.
Now that you have an idea of the significant differences between B2B and B2C, you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
If you’re selling B2C, your marketing will be aimed at building trust in your brand; aiming your pitch at the consumer’s emotions to motivate them to buy your product or service right away; and promoting a quality product at an excellent price.
B2B buyers will take a more rational approach to making a purchase. So, you’ll focus your efforts on the following:
• Lead generation – on and offline
• Brand credibility – providing relevant content that addresses decision makers’ problems
• Consistent, visible follow up – in the form of email newsletters, blogs and case studies – that will strengthen the customers’ view of your company as a solution provider
• Building solid, long-term relationships
Although the processes for both types of marketing are different, one thing that is common among both is that informative, engaging content is essential to building credibility.