If you want to make sure that you’re optimizing your message to reach the right person at exactly the right time, you need to know as much as possible about who that person.
But at the same time, you also need the ability to go far deeper than that. You need to know what types of decisions they’re making and, more importantly, why they’re making them.
You need to know why they think the way they do. And, critically, what they feel when they engage with your brand.
The answers to these types of questions are essentially the major differences between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.
Making an effort to learn about what separates these two similar-yet-very-different concepts will go a long way towards guaranteeing that your eventual message is as strong as it can be.
The emotion of B2B and B2C marketing
One of the biggest myths about B2B marketing is that it is far less emotional than a B2C situation.
When you’re marketing a product or service directly to consumers, you’re told that you need to strike as much of an emotional chord as possible to deepen your impact. And to create a relationship that is founded on loyalty as soon as you can.
B2B marketing, on the other hand, is typically looked at as a much colder and more calculated process.
When dealing with professionals, you need to act accordingly, which involves removing as much emotion from the conversation as possible so that you can rely on cold, hard facts to do the job for you.
Or at least, that’s what your told.
In truth, B2B marketing can be a very emotional experience – albeit in a slightly different way from its B2C counterpart.
B2B marketing requires you to lean heavily on a concept called consultative selling. This means working hard to understand a particular client’s basic needs will place you in a position to forge a relationship that is built on trust first and foremost.
Think about it like this:
The main driver of B2B purchases tends to be need and budget. Two qualities that lead to a very rational decision more often than not. B2C marketing, on the other hand, tends to be driven more based on a “want” which is where emotional decisions typically enter into the discussion.
But again, that doesn’t mean that emotion has no place in a B2B relationship. Far from it. You just need to use the type of collateral that you’re building to trigger that emotion in a different way.
Being able to accomplish a strategic business objective in an effective way that doesn’t blow out your quarterly budget is, in the eyes of a B2B client, an inherently emotional experience. If nothing else, it is the cause for celebration.
You can create an infographics or presentation for your B2B audience. This is the type of place you need to be starting from. An effective B2B infographic would be built on the back of the many different ways in which your product or service will save a client time, money and resources.
A B2C Infographic, on the other hand, would likely illustrate all of the personal problems that your product or service would solve or outline all of the ways that it would make someone’s life easier.
These two examples are (arguably) equally emotional, but in different ways depending on the audience you’re speaking to.
The content factor
Going beyond this, there are a number of other qualities that separate B2B marketing from B2C marketing in interesting and important ways.
B2C marketing tends to rely more on conversational, “human” language, even in those presentations and other “formal” documents that you’re creating.
Because you know that your B2B audience is more “professional” than a B2C one, however, there is room for more industry jargon to be peppered into all that B2B collateral you’re working on.
Likewise, success in this regard requires you to understand that B2B marketers tend to deal with a much longer chain of command than their B2C counterparts.
When you market to a B2C customer, the person with “purchasing authority” in this situation is typically the person you’re engaged with. If they’re convinced enough by your collateral to believe that your product or service will really do what you say, they can more or less pull the trigger at any time.
Even the most passionate B2B client, on the other hand, still likely has to get approval from multiple people before a sale can be made. This means that the sales funnel itself will naturally be longer. Something that will also need to factor into the volume, quality and type of collateral that you’re creating.
B2E marketing, or the future of “business-to-everyone”
From a larger, macro point of view, B2B and B2C marketing aren’t really as different as a lot of people tend to argue. You’re still trying to make the lives of your customers better whether they’re a professional or a “civilian” doesn’t change that.
You’re also still trying to wield the full power of someone’s emotions to your advantage albeit from a slightly different angle in a B2B situation as opposed to a B2C one.
In truth, the lines between B2B and B2C marketing have been blurring for the last several years.
Professional users love social media. For example, they can just typically be found on LinkedIn as opposed to Facebook.
Looking forward, it is easy to imagine a time where B2B and B2C marketing are considered one-in-the-same. Perhaps the larger concept of “B2E marketing” will emerge before we know it.
But the key thing to understand is that you can’t let these categories limit what you’re trying to do in terms of customer outreach, because the category that someone falls into doesn’t actually matter as much as you think it does.
All that matters is the person you’re trying to reach.
If you build your consent around that person as opposed to their job title or status, be rest assured that you will absolutely be able to make the connection you need when you need it the most.
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Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.