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Differences between B2B and B2C Marketing

First of all, are you really sure you are a B2B? While all businesses that sell to other business rather than consumers are called B2Bs, from experience, I’ve learned that B2B2C is not a B2B—it’s a B2C as far as marketing goes. If the business sells to other businesses that sell almost exclusively to consumers, it needs to be treated as a B2C for marketing (and other) purposes. An example would be a business that is selling point-of-sale systems to retailers (who are then selling directly to consumers).

Following are a few differences between B2B and B2C markets and marketing:

  • Size: B2B markets are generally small vertical markets ranging from a few thousand to 100,000 sales prospects. B2C markets are typically much larger, broader markets ranging from 10,000 to millions of sales prospects.

  • Decision/Purchasing Process: B2B sales typically have a decision process that spans many months. The sale is complex, often taking additional months to complete. B2C sales have short purchasing periods of anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.

  • Sales Process: B2B sales require selling based on brand awareness, understanding a client's needs and developing a relationship of trust. For B2C, the sales approach is a traditional commodity sell; convincing the consumer they need the product or service.

  • Cost of Product/Service: B2B sales are typically higher ticket purchases ranging from a few thousand to 10s of millions of dollars. B2C sales start at $1 or less.

  • Purchase Decision: The decision to purchase for B2B is generally driven by need and budgets. Therefore; it tends to be a very rational decision. B2C purchase decisions can be based on want more than need or a budget and, therefore are triggered by more emotional decisions.

  • The Value of Brand: Brand identity in B2B markets is created through a positive impression at every step of the decision-making process and, once contact is made, through personal relationships. Brand identity in B2C markets is created through advertising and social media.

  • 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 fewer repeat sales.

  • Contact: B2B customers are not likely to make the first contact with the seller until they are nearly ready to buy. This is a big change from a decade ago—when potential sellers were brought in during the research stage. B2C customers will reach out directly to purchase—either online or in a brick and mortar store.

The days when a sales rep was in charge of the process are gone. This applies to both B2B and B2C. Today’s buyers conduct the research and select what to buy on their own, without any influence from a vendor: According to a 2018 HubSpot survey 57% of buyer decisions are made before buyers even pick up a phone to speak to a supplier. YIKES!

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