B2B vs B2C marketing: same or different

We’ve all ran into the terms – B2B marketing (Business-to-business) and B2C marketing (Business-to-customer). We’ve also ran into people and literature telling us that they are very much the same, and probably just the same amount of people and literature telling us that they are completely different. This has bothered me for some time because I work solely in the B2B world. I’d watch or read something and then I’d go into an internal debate of whether its applicable to B2B or not. I would obsess over these two terms and think about the differences and similarities, rather than focusing on learning something new. Therefore, I’ve looked for clarity on the subject. Here’s what I found:

The most prominent argument saying that B2B and B2C marketing are the same is that they both sell to people; they are both people-to-people communication processes. Therefore, the buying decision is very similar to the same. [read more about this point of view here]

This argument is valid to some extent. You could carry out successful marketing campaigns, regardless of whether they are B2B or B2C, if you believe in this approach. However, you have to be a master at asking yourself the right questions and also at answering them correctly. Some of the questions marketers should always focus on answering are:

  • What do my customers want/need?
  • Where/how can I reach them?
  • What questions will they ask themselves about my product?

Successful marketing is always about reaching the right people with good information. It may sound simple, but for many marketers it’s a very difficult process, and it’s becoming more difficult with the global overflow of information. This is true and necessary for the success of both B2B and B2C marketers.

However, there are some innate differences between the B2B and B2C buyer, which cannot be overlooked. Knowing these differences will help you better answer the important questions and to communicate more effectively. I have summarized the most important ones in the table below:

The Differences

The buying decision is rational and based on business value and profitability. It’s important for clients to understand how your product will bring them and their customers value. The buying decision is emotional and based on status and desire. It’s important for your customer to understand how they will be satisfied.
The buyer aims to maximize a long-term business relationship. The buyer is product driven and aims to maximize a one-time transaction.
Longer buying process and sales cycle. Simple buying process and shorter sales cycle.
Target market is typically small and focused. Target market is typically large.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you call yourself a B2B or B2C marketer. There are peculiarities you need to know about both practices and I’ve done my best to summarize them above. Of course, I might have missed some and there will be differences from company to company.The important thing is to focus on your customers and really getting to know them. It is essential for effective communication.

I will be glad to hear about your experience and opinion in the comments section.


Author: Kiril Hristov

An internet marketing specialist with a passion for music and other art.

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