We talk about “b2b” a lot at MLT Creative. All of our posts on this blog have to do with some aspect of b2b marketing. But what really is b2b marketing and how is it really different than “b2c marketing?” In this post, I’ll discuss the differences between b2b and b2c and why these distinctions really matter.
So what are these distinctions in the first place?
“b2b” stands for “business to business” and “b2c” stands for “business to consumer.” These words indicate different customer or audience bases.
B2C – any business that sells its products or services to consumers for personal use (food, clothing, music, etc.). Most of the every day purchases that we make for ourselves are purchased from b2c companies.
B2B – any business that sells its products or services to other businesses (construction equipment, industrial printers, business consultants, etc.). If you are purchasing something for your company or organization, you are buying from a b2b business.
These identifiers aren’t always mutually exclusive. Companies can be both b2b and b2c. For example: Apple. Many of Apple’s customers are buying a product for personal use, and many other customers are buying a product for their company, school or other organization.
How does this affect marketing?
In order to be successful, marketing has to take in to account it’s target audience; their goals, problems, style and attitude. Marketers have identified some key differences between b2b and b2c buyers:
B2B buyers are more conservative – People are on their best behavior at work. They are looking for products and services that are crowd pleasers and don’t ruffle any feathers, thus they tend to be attracted to more conservative, safe solutions than b2c buyers.
B2B buyers are more influential – They aren’t just buying a new pair of jeans. They are buying something for a whole company or department.
B2B buyers face worse consequences – With great power comes great responsibility. If they don’t make good buying decisions, they (and others) could lose their job, and their company could fail.
B2B buyers are more cautious – Since stakes are so high, they have to be very careful to make the right decision.
B2B buyers take longer – They don’t just take a long time to make a decision out of caution. There is often red tape and committees involved in making buying decisions. It usually takes awhile for everything and everyone to agree on a buying decision.
B2B buyers are more informed – Buyers in general these days are more informed, but because of the importance of their purchases, b2b buyers are even more so. Sellers that are willing to inform them and not just sell to them are more likely to earn their trust.
B2B buyers are more familiar with industry jargon – They are looking for sellers that speak their language, and most of the time that’s an insider’s language. Sellers that speak their language, are more likely to earn trust.
B2B buyers like longer and more detailed content – They don’t care very much about surface level information. They want to know the ins and outs and the nitty gritty before they make a decision.
B2B buyers want to know who they are buying from – They aren’t just buying a product or service – they are asking the seller to help them grow their company. Strong relationships go a long way with these buyers.
B2B buyers are more likely to make repeat purchases – A successful buying decision is not taken lightly. If they find a seller that’s a good fit, the next time they need a similar product or service they are probably going to play it safe and buy from someone they already have a relationship with.
There are a lot of ways that b2b buyers are different from b2c buyers. All of these things should be taken into account by marketers in the b2b space when developing their marketing strategy.