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B2B vs B2C: A Beginner’s Guide To Marketing

DATE

1 April 2024

WRITTEN BY

Jeevan

For every B2C business out there, there are almost twice as many B2B businesses that support them. 

Despite this interesting fact, the majority of the marketing resources you’ll find online are catered to the B2C market. 

That’s not as surprising as it sounds, as the realm of B2B marketing is a lot more subtle than its counterpart. When it comes to B2C, you can go online and find as many resources as you want, like marketing campaigns, ads or social media posts. But for B2B, you’ll have a lot more difficulty as the majority of the work is more personalised and done behind the scenes. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the differences between B2B and B2C marketing and how you can create the perfect marketing strategy for your brand.

B2B vs B2C Marketing: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to marketing, both B2B and B2C operate on the same principles: Identify your customers, raise awareness of your brand and convince them to choose your brand. 

The difference comes down to certain factors that can fundamentally change how you approach both of them.

1. Target Audience

As the names imply, B2B targets other businesses, while B2C targets consumers. This statement is somewhat misleading when you look at the fact that both businesses are selling to individuals. 

The difference between B2B and B2C becomes apparent when you look at what these individuals represent. In B2C, the individual in question is the final decision maker, meaning B2C marketing is focused on convincing that one individual. 

But when you look at B2B, you are targeting a chain of individuals from the procurement team to the department heads to the final decision-makers. This means that B2B marketing entails convincing a group of people with different goals and expectations to come to the same decision. 

It is a slow and deliberate process where you must take a different approach at each stage of the sales funnel. What this means for marketing is that different platforms will be used to convince the same customer at different stages of their decision-making journey. 

2. Complexity Of Transactions

The complexity of transactions is another area where the differences between B2B and B2C necessitate completely different marketing strategies. The major difference between B2B and B2C when it comes to the complexity of transactions comes down to three factors:

I. Sales Cycle:

B2B transactions take a long time due to negotiations and complex decision-making processes. On the other hand, B2C transactions, in most cases, take less than a few minutes due to emotional or impulsive decision-making.

II. Transaction Values:

B2C transactions can cover a wide range of values, but the majority of them are of a lower value compared to B2B transactions. That’s why B2C marketing, more often than not, focuses on quantity over quality of leads.

III. Decision-Making:

In B2C, a purchase decision is made due to a host of factors, some of them rational, while others, like brand perception and social influence, are entirely emotional. That’s not the case in B2B, as all decisions are made on rational factors like cost-effectiveness, quality, efficiency and ROI. 

All of these factors affect the messaging a brand may want to convey when they market themselves. This, in turn, changes the overall marketing strategy.

3. Relationship Building

Building a relationship with your customers is essential in both B2B and B2C marketing. But, the objectives of both are so different that they require entirely different approaches. 

In the case of B2C, the main objective is to create a memorable experience for the customer and foster brand loyalty through effective branding, messaging and customer service. This is why B2C marketing strategies focus on building a positive brand perception and use mass marketing techniques. 

B2B marketing takes an entirely different approach. Here, the objective is to create a long-term professional relationship. So, B2B marketing strategies focus on personalised communication, ongoing support and tailored solutions for specific business needs. 

As you can see, the major differences between B2B and B2C, by default, necessitate the use of different marketing strategies. Let’s now take a look at how you can create the perfect marketing strategy for your business.

How To Create A Marketing Strategy

Creating a marketing strategy involves the same steps for both B2B and B2C. However, how you approach each step changes based on your objectives. Follow these steps to create the perfect marketing strategy for your business:

1. Conduct Market Research

This is one step where there’s no difference between B2B and B2C. Conducting market research will help you identify what your customers are looking for. This step is necessary to ensure that your decisions are data-driven.

2. Define Goals

Once you have the necessary information from the market, you can go ahead by defining the goals for your marketing strategy. This is the first instance where the difference between B2B and B2C pops up. 

For B2B, the goals usually include the following: 

  • Creating long-term relationships
  • Building trust
  • Lead generation
  • Conversions
  • Customer retention

On the other hand, B2C marketing strategies usually aim to achieve the following goals: 

  • Building brand awareness
  • Increasing customer engagement
  • Enhancing brand loyalty
  • Improving brand perception
  • Generating more sales

These are not the only goals of a marketing strategy. In many cases, some of these goals may overlap for B2B and B2C as well. Just take these as general suggestions to gain a broader understanding of what this step involves. 

3. Identify Target Audience And Create Buyer Personas

This is the core of a marketing strategy. Using the information from the market research and the goals you’ve defined, it’s time to identify the target audience. One simple strategy to identify a target audience is to use an STP (Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning) analysis. But the more detailed and data-driven this process is, the more accurate it will be. 

Once a target audience has been identified, the next step is to create a buyer persona. This involves creating a profile of your ideal customer. This profile should have critical demographic, psychographic and behavioural information. 

This is where the difference between B2B and B2C arises. In the case of B2C, your buyer persona is a reflection of your customer. Therefore, it needs to reflect the values they are looking for when they purchase your product or service.

But for B2B, the customer is an organisation, making it difficult to create a standard buyer persona. But that is solved when you consider the fact that the buyers are individuals. Here, the values they look for differ from B2C as they are representing their organisation. 

4. Conduct Competitor Analysis

Now that you have an understanding of your customers, it’s time to see what your competitors are up to.   

This will also help you find an ideal spot in the market and give you insights into market gaps, trends etc.

5. Develop Your Brand Messaging

Now that you have collected the necessary information, it’s time to act. Your messaging is how your brand communicates its unique value proposition to your customers. 

This is, again, one more area where the difference between B2B and B2C becomes obvious. 

For B2C, messaging aims to promote your brand and build loyalty towards your brand. It also utilises emotional appeal to convince your customers to choose your brand. 

While brand awareness and brand loyalty are just as important for B2B, the focus is more on how your product and service can increase their ROI and utilises a more rational appeal.

6. Choosing Marketing Channels

Both B2B and B2C use the same marketing channels to promote their brand. But the difference between them is how effectively each channel achieves its objectives. 

For example, social media is a great tool for B2C marketing due to its focus on mass marketing techniques, especially platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And while mass marketing is not the preferred method of marketing for B2B, platforms like LinkedIn have their own uses. 

Another example is email marketing, which is a very popular channel for B2B marketing due to its high conversion rate and its effectiveness in customer retention. 
The biggest difference between B2B and B2C when it comes to marketing channels is the effectiveness of account-based marketing. It refers to creating a marketing campaign catered to a specific customer. Due to the lower transaction value of transactions in B2C, it is almost never used. On the other hand, it is considered the most effective marketing channel for B2B marketing.

7. Identify, Track And Analyse KPIs.

You need to track many KPIs when creating a marketing strategy. Some are more universal, while others are specific due to the goals you have defined. 

Some of the more common KPIs you need to track based on the sector are as follows:

B2B:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Pipeline Velocity

B2C:

  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
  • Conversion Rate
  • Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Customer Retention Rate

There are many tools available to track these KPIs. The goal is to identify which ones are more important and to take steps to increase them. 

Analysing these KPIs will also help you define goals for future marketing strategies.

Conclusion

There are plenty of differences between B2B and B2C, but you need to keep in mind that your customers are still people. Anything that works for B2B has the potential to work for B2C and vice versa. So, there’s no need to consider these differences as hard boundaries. 

But that does not mean that these differences can be ignored. It takes years of experience in that particular sector to truly understand how to create an effective marketing strategy. If you think your business needs someone with that unique experience, talk to us and let us take care of your marketing needs.

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