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The differences between B2B and B2C marketing design

The end goal of both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing is increased sales. As the name suggests, B2B involves commercial transactions between two businesses, while B2C businesses sell goods and services to the individual consumer. Between the two models, B2B marketing is more challenging as the business involves several stakeholders and marketing materials must be designed and developed such that all involved parties are satisfied. As expected, business relationships between stakeholders can be complex and must last long enough to make positive gains. B2C marketing, on the other hand, focusses on a product or service for the final consumer. It is more straightforward.

Marketing materials are largely designed to woo the personal consumer but the need to design marketing tools to influence the B2B stakeholders is equally important. Given that the end consumers are different, the marketing efforts of B2B and B2C enterprises must be different too.

Are the complexities in B2B ecommerce higher than in B2C ecommerce?

B2C consumers buy for themselves and are prone to impulse or emotion-driven buying. For a seller, errors in individual B2C orders are not as cost intensive as those in B2B orders. In the latter, buying and selling involves many departments and are usually high-value transactions. Purchases involve deeper research, less market-driven buying, and more needs-driven buying. Parameters are tight and traditional sales boosters such as add-ons do not work here. Further, while B2C purchases are usually one-time purchases, B2B purchases are often repeat purchases and, as mentioned earlier, of much higher value since purchases are usually made for a whole enterprise. For example, buying ergonomic chairs for all the employees of an organisation is a B2B transaction.

How to improve marketing efforts of B2B and B2C enterprises

Earlier, B2B companies did not focus much on improving the customer experience but that is quickly changing in the current market scene. Although the needs of both types of businesses are different, B2B customers expect a high level of service and attention too. Like B2C enterprises, B2B entities must take advantage of every opportunity to highlight their brand, connect with their target audience and display a convincing differentiator in their marketing efforts.

Building personal relationships with customers

B2C marketing efforts are targeted directly at customers and businesses try to forge an emotional bond with their present and future customers. The focus is largely on pushing sales.

On the other hand, B2B marketing efforts must focus on building long-term relationships that can boost business growth. The customers are suppliers, distributors, and wholesalers. There is rarely any motivation for building a personal emotional relationship, but more on understanding all the parties involved such that their roles in the business are fortified enough to last long. It must be clear to the other stakeholders what the return on investment (ROI) will be and how they can benefit from building a relationship with the prospective business customer.

Speaking the language of the customers

B2B customers tend to purchase services and products from sellers who understand their processes, terminologies, and decisions. To influence such customers, a seller must use the perspective of the customer as a guide while marketing. B2C marketing usually involves quite a bit of fluff to entice customers. However, such a ploy will fail to entice B2B customers. Real facts and figures, without a veil of emotions, are what will work with B2B customers and help them make an informed decision.

Creating focussed and customised websites

B2C websites and apps can be personalised to a huge extent since there are many points of interaction to track. A customer’s shopping or search history can easily enable a business to make targeted marketing decisions. However, if a B2B consumer visits a website and sees a huge number of ads, he or she will immediately know that he/she is being tracked. While tracking may not be a botheration, navigating through the clutter to look for what is important can be frustrating and time-consuming. To prevent a prospective client from switching to a competitor’s website, a B2B marketing plan must include very specific details.

The marketing plan must aim to connect with business-minded audiences and convince them that solutions to all their problems are available with the B2B enterprise. Content must be tailored for different decision makers, yet it must be concise since decision makers often move quickly. Prospective customers must be able to understand the product and the capability of the products being sold. This, of course, holds true for both kinds of businesses. 

Taking care of leads

In a B2C website, buying a product requires just a few steps from selection to payment. However, a lead in a B2B website needs to be nurtured to end profitably. Every lead could involve several steps, from filling out a form to discussing cost packages or discounts with sales representatives and, finally, signing a contract to finalise the sale.

A prospective customer will follow through only if there is in-depth information on products and services, tutorials, if appropriate, videos, comparisons, and other facts and figures. B2B sellers must present themselves as experts not only in their offerings but also on how their services and offerings support prospective clients.

What’s next?

B2B buyers have high expectations from sellers and B2B enterprises must evolve to meet these expectations. The current times are an opportunity for B2B enterprises to become more responsive, agile, and connected.

Most B2B marketers stay prepared by targeting four different audiences in their marketing strategy, while only a small per cent focus on six different audiences. And a majority of successful B2B marketers agree that prioritising the audience’s need for information over the enterprise's promotional message reaps better rewards.

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