While B2B and B2C marketing are different, they share the same goals and objectives. There is an art to both B2B and B2C marketing, with their strategies and thinking being both separate, and in some cases, the same.
This article will clear the confusion and explain the fundamental differences between B2B and B2C marketing, along with guidance and considerations for each marketing type. Keep reading to discover tools and tips to uncover the subtle yet significant differences between the two.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?
Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing techniques are focused on attracting two distinct audiences. B2B refers to businesses that are focused on serving other businesses instead of themselves. Some examples include software, manufacturing equipment, and repair services for long-haul fleets.
B2C refers to businesses that are focused on the needs and interests of their customers, who are often individuals. In other words, they sell to everybody but professionals. Think toothpaste, grocery stores, and mobile gaming apps. While these brands may also appeal to businesses, the bulk of their customer base comes from consumers, so their marketing reflects that.
There are also cases where both B2B and B2C initiatives happen at the same time. For example, an interior design agency might design rooms for hotels as well as homeowners.
On the surface level, B2B and B2C marketing campaigns share the same technical and behavioral best practices. However, there are several strategic differences that separate the B2B and B2C campaigns.
Potential sales volume
B2C campaigns can reach anyone interested in a product even if they aren’t the intended buyer. For example, a product intended for children might appeal to the decision-maker in the household by also targeting them to get them to purchase something.
While B2C companies can cast a wide net and still expect a solid ROI on their campaigns, B2B brands don’t have that same advantage. That’s because, in B2B marketing, the products are meant for businesses, and there are typically far fewer businesses than there are people in any demographic.
While specificity is key for both, B2B marketing has to niche down even further by industry, business size, approximate revenue, and much more when choosing their target audience.
Average budget per customer
There's a big difference in the budget that an individual has versus what a corporation has. While spending five figures on a piece of equipment might be out of reach for the Average Joe, it's likely already built into the company budget for a business. And, as you can probably guess, how you market a $5 item is quite different from how you market a $50,000 item.
This distinction is important because it highlights another one of the biggest key differences between B2B vs. B2C marketing: volume.
Volume of sales needed to reach goals
Because B2C products are typically sold at a lower price point, they need to rely on a significant number of purchases to reach their goals. This is often reflected in the frequency and variety of their marketing. Even the B2C channels they use offer mass appeal. Podcast ads, paid social media ads, and even billboards are excellent examples of this.
Conversely, B2B products are sold at a higher price point and need fewer yet more highly targeted accounts to make a profit. These types of campaigns rely more on reaching the right quality of audience rather than the right quantity of audience. In other words, more is not necessarily more in B2B marketing.
Even if the B2B marketers are targeting a specific set of individual decision-makers within a company, they are still benefiting from that company's access to a greater amount of financial resources than the average individual would have.
In short, B2C marketing is often aimed at individuals with smaller budgets, while B2B marketing is all about targeting corporations with larger budgets.
In both B2B and B2C marketing, ads need to immediately inspire customers to take the next action. The difference here is that the next action for B2C audiences might be to make a purchase, while B2B buyers tend to have a much longer decision-making timeline.
For B2C, consumers should be able to see an ad and decide whether or not they like the product enough to go in-store or online to make the purchase. While they might do additional research, the time it takes to read reviews or watch product videos on YouTube is a much quicker turnaround than in B2B buying.
For B2B brands, there may be many different decision-makers from a variety of departments involved in the purchase. Often, a few different budget approvals and negotiations will take place between the business’s first initial ad viewing and the final purchase.
When put together, the B2B marketing timeline can often be significantly longer than the B2C marketing timeline.
Emotion vs. logic
B2C marketing also relies on appealing to emotions to make quick buying decisions. This means their content is often more fun or entertaining. Think TikTok videos, YouTube reacts, and paid social media sponsorships.
For B2B, marketers often aim to move their leads to the next stage of the sales funnel. That could mean anything from setting up a free demonstration to starting a subscription. B2B marketers have to consider which campaigns will target which parts of the marketing funnel. This helps them reach the right audience with the right messaging at the right time.
Also, the demand for efficiency and expertise is higher among B2B audiences than among the consumer group. As a result, the purchase decision is often influenced by both logic and financial incentive more than emotion.
Unlike in a B2C environment, B2B customers expect their sales and marketing teams to be focused on them because of the higher ticket price. This means providing personalized service, getting to know their team members on an individual level, and tailoring solutions to fit their changing needs over time.
Customer experience is an important factor for B2C audiences too. However, the average consumer doesn’t expect to get to know a sales representative at their favorite laundry detergent brand before buying their next bottle.
Do B2B & B2C marketing intersect at all?
Both B2B and B2C sales require extensive experience and knowledge about customer service. In fact, “on average across 20 industries, there is a 38% difference in likelihood to recommend between consumers rating a company’s [customer experience] as ‘good’ versus those rating a company’s [customer experience] as ‘poor’” according to Qualtrics XM Institute.
In other words, good customer service really matters for most industries and can positively impact the decision-making process for both types of audiences.
Another way the B2B and B2C marketing intersects is shared goals. The primary goal of both B2B and B2C sales models is to convert a prospect into a customer. The ways they go about it or the specifics of how many sales they make might look different. But at the end of the day, they are focused on the same big-picture vision.
Another similarity between B2C and B2B sales is that their customers are (or have the ability to be) very well-versed in their products and services. In addition to viewing ads, customers will often research products on their own and ask their network for referrals. Both B2C and B2B marketers will have to consider how they’re appealing to their target audience outside of the physical and digital spaces they have control of because of this.
B2B Vs B2C Marketing: Which approach is best for me?
If you're trying to decide between B2B vs. B2C marketing, you need to consider who you're going to reach. Again, it all goes back to businesses versus individuals. If you are aiming for audiences in both sectors, you can use a combination of B2B and B2C marketing techniques in separate campaigns.
Another thing to consider is budget. B2C marketing typically casts a wider net across platforms, channels, and ad types. If you can afford to reach the masses on a variety of mediums, then the B2C marketing approach is worth considering.
There's also a chance that your B2B product might have mass appeal to individuals or vice versa. In that case, you can test a small campaign using the opposite approach to see which works best for your brand.
If you have a smaller budget or a niche product, then the B2B marketing approach is ideal. It may take more planning, but you can easily reach high ROI leads using this methodology.
B2B vs. B2C OKRs: What is the difference?
OKRs help marketers align their efforts with the goals and objectives of their companies. They can also affect the people who work with them and offer actions steps for marketing operations and management.
B2B and B2C objectives and key results are identical for the most part. That’s because B2B and B2C brands often have goals that fall under the same category. The details, such as the specifics of the objective and the steps they’ll take to achieve each goal, might look different. But for the most part, any marketer can use the OKR system for establishing goals and next steps.
Here’s an example of OKRs in action:
- Objective: Become the go-to product for this pain point on the market
- Key Result: Provide one new product update every quarter to reflect industry trends
- Key Result: Reduce the number of steps it takes to make a purchase through the website from 10 to two
- Key Result: Increase average star meter review score from 3.5 to 4.5 stars on major industry review website
Notice how this can apply to either a B2B or a B2C marketing campaign? While this example is a bit generic, there are instances where the OKRs will look different, especially when it comes to the approach.
How do B2C and B2B marketing approaches differ?
B2C and B2B marketing approaches differ and how and when they reach potential leads.
While both B2C and B2B customers are more likely to purchase after seeing an ad, the latter is also more likely to take longer to make a purchase. People tend to make impulsive decisions when it comes to buying goods and services on their own. On the other hand, buying a business product or service can be more challenging to change once purchased.
There's even evidence of this in the marketing tools B2C and B2B marketers use most often. For example, most ad platforms have shorter windows of attribution for B2C customers. For that reason, B2B businesses should also check these settings and ensure that they are being used correctly.
B2C and B2B marketing management approaches also differ in how they motivate buyers. B2B and B2C customers both typically buy because they see a product or service that they can use in some way. However, B2C customers are looking for ways to improve their lives. Even though emotional appeal is important in both B2B and B2C, it needs to be tied back to the business and not just the sales pitch.
Can I organize B2B & B2C marketing campaigns with Wrike?
Wrike for Marketers is a robust and pre-packaged solution that enables marketers to easily create and manage their marketing plans. Marketing teams use it to streamline and keep track of their work for both B2B and B2C marketing. They’re able to clearly see all active projects, statuses, and tasks in one shared system, all while monitoring performance and improving ROI as they go.
Some ways you can use Wrike to organize B2B & B2C marketing campaigns include:
- Create use requests, tasks and projects to streamline your intake process for both B2B and B2C marketing initiatives.
- Organize incoming work from clients, partners, and third-party collaborators.
- Create an actionable timeline for campaigns and individual assets.
- Easily compare and approve files and materials while also commenting on files directly in Wrike.
- Run reports on internal and external progress to see how your team is doing across all departments.
To sum it up: Wrike can help both marketers and businesses plan and execute their marketing strategies and campaigns. Start your free trial.