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Comparing B2B Versus B2C Marketing

By: Robert Hennessey

Comparing B2B Versus B2C Marketing

Comparing B2B versus B2C marketing is important when choosing the most effective marketing approach for your business. Many of us don't think about the differences between B2B versus B2C marketing. Not understanding and realizing these differences could cause you to waste a lot of time and money in your B2B marketing decisions.

Here is a handy chart to compare B2B versus B2C marketing attributes and their differences affecting business-to-business marketing.

B2B versus B2C Marketing Differences

Types of Customers

B2B – Business customers are other businesses, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations.

B2C – Consumer customers are individuals who purchase products or services for personal use.
Marketing Implication: The needs of business customers differ from those of individual consumers. Consequently, marketing and communications tactics will vary and require different emphasis.

Size of B2B vs. B2C Markets

B2B markets are generally small vertical markets, often niche in size, comprising 15-to 50 thousand sales prospects to upwards of 100,000 prospects
B2C markets are large broad markets of hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of sales prospects

Marketing Implication: B2B sales will be fewer in number and cultivating quality prospects, not quantity is extremely important. Unlike B2C where mass-marketing techniques produce many prospects, these prospects are of low quality and many do not purchase. Mass-market techniques for B2B firms are not likely to be effective and are generally not cost- effective.

Purchasing Process

B2B sales typically have a purchasing process
that is usually defined in months and the sale is complex, often taking additional months to complete.

B2C sales have short purchasing periods of anywhere from a few minutes (the impulse buy), for a few days and is a simple sale consummated immediately.

Marketing Implication: A lengthy purchase process of understanding client needs requires building trust with your client to assure them that your product/service is best for their needs. Unlike the B2C purchase that are driven by immediate impulse buying based on emotional want and price.

Sales Process

B2B sales require consultative selling
(selling based on understanding a client's needs
and developing a relationship of trust)
sometimes from a sales organization with

two-tiers that includes the seller's sales force
and a distribution sales force.

B2C sales are usually direct to the consumer or involve a retailer. The sales approach is a traditional product sale requiring "convincing the consumer" they need the product or service being sold.

Marketing Implication: A consultative B2B sales process requires more emphasis on building rapport and trust with often more than one decision-maker over many months of the sales process assuring the buyer that they are making the best rational decision.

Cost of a Sale

B2B sales are "higher ticket" purchases usually costing from just a few thousand dollars to tens
of millions of dollars.

B2C sales can range in cost from a dollar to a few thousand dollars. Except, for cars and homes.

Marketing Implication: B2B sales are going to be fewer in number but with a higher return on investment from a marketing investment standpoint. B2C sales are many with smaller profits and typically with less return on investment.

Purchase Decision

The decision to purchase in B2B
sales are driven by needs, and budgets,
therefore; it tends to be a very rational decision.

B2C purchase decisions tend to be made based on want more than need or a budget and, therefore, are triggered by more emotional decisions.

Marketing Implication: In approaching B2B buyers, use a rationale sales approach and many facts to support of your presentations. Leave out the fluff.  

The Value of Brand

Brand identity is created through personal relationships and consultative selling in B2B markets.
Brand identity is created through advertising and now social media in B2C markets.

Marketing Implication: The Internet is changing the approach to brand identity building for both B2B and B2C. Outbound advertising that was never affordable to many B2B businesses and the mainstay of B2C marketing is taking a backseat to inbound marketing approaches like social media now playing a bigger role in both B2B and B2C brand building.

Lifetime Customer Value

The lifetime value of B2B customers
is much higher due to the higher cost
of sales and the likelihood of repeat or add-on
sales to the same customer.

The lifetime value of a B2C customer is lower than B2B because of the lower cost of individual sales and repeat sales are generally fewer.

Marketing Implication: Looking at your marketing as a long-term investment in your sales and company growth is essential. It affects every aspect of how you go about making smart marketing decisions. Even B2C firms are moving to invest more in marketing that will produce a better lifetime customer value.

Bottom Line:

Comparing B2B versus B2C marketing differences are crucial to your marketing strategy and tactics. Knowing your target audience, developing an appropriate marketing message for your specific target market, and the types of communication messages and how to distribute them are very different in engaging a B2B versus B2C Company. Using big business-consumer marketing tactics for b2b marketing is not cost-effective and is not likely to produce the new business-to-business clients you seek.

B2B sales prospects are very different from B2C. B2B sales prospects are found in small vertical markets that require consultative selling and take longer to sell. B2B sales are "higher ticket" sales driven by a rational sales approach that involves developing personal relationships. The payoff for B2B sales prospects is a high lifetime customer value.

Knowing the differences between B2B versus, B2C are just the beginning steps to achieving B2B sales lead marketing success.

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