Marketing is a set of activities which are involved in selling a product. However, the whole set of activities will depend on the target audience and their preferences. The same product can carry different meanings for individuals and businesses. B2B and B2C marketing practices are completely different as the target customers are different.
B2B stands for ‘Business to Business’ marketing model while B2C stands for ‘Business to Customer’ marketing model. As the name suggests the former means that you are selling your product to another business while the latter means that you are directly selling your product to the end customer.
To understand the difference further let us take an example:
If you are buying your partner a nice outfit on your anniversary or are buying a refrigerator for your home, you will have completely different considerations than when you are ordering uniforms for your staff or are buying multiple refrigerators for your hotel business. In the former case, you will tend to have a lot of emotions attached with your purchase and will take care of every possible detail from the quality point of view in terms of best fabric and up-to-date in terms of the latest trends. Also, in the case of the refrigerator, you will want to have one with all the latest features in addition to the look. But, at the same time when you are ordering uniforms for your staff, you will not bother about the fabric to that length or the latest fashion but will look for options which are cost-effective, lasting fabric and smart. Even for a bulk order of refrigerators you will not seek all the latest features but will be more concerned about the cost and reasonable cooling. Here, lies the root of all the differences between the two kinds of marketing.
Both B2B and B2C marketing have to be highly directed at the needs of your end customer and the factors which they will take into account to make the purchase decision.
In a B2C campaign, your marketing strategy and messaging will revolve around the end-users of the product who is and can be interested to buy it. E.g. if a woman comes across a beautiful dress, she may not be interested to buy it at that time but can tell someone else about the same who can ultimately end up in buying the same. Thus, these campaigns have to reach each and every household. These customers base their decision both and need and emotion. The big budget items like cars, houses, etc. have to suit the pocket and also appeal to the whole group in some way or the other.
In the case of B2B marketing, you have to remember that the decision-making authority usually rests with a few individuals who need to be convinced about the use of the product. They will not weigh the product emotionally but will see the actual advantage of the same to the business and based on its utility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. E.g. it will not matter how many employees need to get their computers replaced in the business but the ultimate decision to buy a new one will rest with the purchase manager or the upper brass of the business. So, as a marketer, you will have to direct your advertisements or other marketing channels in a way that the message is able to reach the right people.
As efficient marketers, you should know what the basic motivation for your customer is and on what stage of a product cycle are they on.
The process has entirely different connotations when you are doing it for a personal purpose and for your business. The product has to be appealing to the customers in both the cases and should be able to provide the right answer to their needs.
B2B customers are not driven by emotion. They usually take time to make a decision and explore more options before they actually decide to buy. Even when they are convinced about the preliminary benefits they will still search for more details, product reviews and even check out options by other firms offering the same. They will take the final call only after they are convinced on all aspects.
B2C customers, on the contrary, do not take that long to make the decision. They usually browse through the information, check for the features, the latest add-ons, reviews etc. Adding social proof to your advertisements usually has a lot of benefits and have a direct impact on the purchase decision.
It is the time taken by customers to make the actual purchase.
B2C customers usually take a shorter time to make a purchase as compared to B2B customers. It is dependent on the amount of research undertaken by both and the extent of detail both sides visit before taking a final call.
It is generally seen that people end up making more impulsive decisions in case of buying personal things than when they have to make purchases for their businesses where they have definite budgets and also are under pressure to get the best product at the best price. This is also because it may be highly complicated to change your business purchase decision as the products are bought in bulk and the entire mode of work cannot be changed or put on hold to compensate for one mistake. Also, most of the ad campaigns are designed to attract the B2C customer rather than businesses.
There are some basic tools which are useful in both kinds of marketing decisions with slight variations.
In case of B2B marketing, personas hold great significance as there are many people who actually matter in a business when the final decision is made e.g. the CFO, the head of the department for which the purchase is taking place, the quality analysts who should be satisfied with the product type and quality and ultimately the employees who will be working on the product at the end. Thus, your marketing strategy should be able to address the concerns of each one of these and be wrapped in a package that the business decision maker will be able to weigh the concerns of all and end up making an educated decision for the business. Even in the case of B2C, personas usually have an impact on the final purchase decision especially in case of big-ticket items.
These are very important and can vary significantly in the case of B2B and B2C. While B2C customers or household buyers are usually found anywhere and can be reached via multiple channels. As a marketer, you can pick traditional marketing channels or can shift to social media or even conduct live events. Even businesses are found everywhere but they can’t be reached in the same manner and expect hard selling from buyers. Marketing channels for businesses involve direct calls or visits by your representatives to show and explain your product, formal business proposals or quotes, trade shows etc. Social media channels can also be used but they must be wrapped informal language and quotes.
The message you want to give to your potential buyers will be directly be based on the language they usually use. This applies to both the cases i.e. B2B and B2C. It is always a good idea to convince the businesses in their vernacular language as it adds a personal touch to your campaign and product. While communicating with a B2B client you may be pushed to use heavy language loaded with jargon and other business-terminology but ultimately the deal will break if you are able to convey your message in the right manner. Thus, what is to be said and how it is to be said both make a lot of difference in marketing. One piece of wrong communication can break apart the whole marketing plan and even the product.
Thus, the basic difference between B2B and B2C lies in the fact that who is the buyer and who will make the purchase decision for him/her. The only thing common is the fact that it is ultimately people at the other end, and you have to convince the human mind that your product offering provides the ultimate answer to their needs when compared to all other options in the market. Of course, the marketing strategies will vary as in B2C, the decision-making lies with an individual person or a household while in case of B2B it lies with one person who has the authority. Your marketing message will play a great role in the same and it should be highly motivating for either of the cases for them to be converted into customers. It will also be correct to state that the emotional appeal will matter in both the cases. While it is apparent in the case of B2C, in B2B you will have to link the appeal to their businesses.