When I studied marketing at the university, we had a course about B2B marketing. After one lesson, I had a discussion with a few of my fellow course members about our future career plans. It was interesting that pretty much everyone was of the opinion that they would NOT like to work with B2B marketing.
We, and I include myself in that, had always thought of working with B2C Marketing instead. Why? I have thought about it a lot since then. Perhaps our concepts of B2B marketing weren’t realistic. Maybe we thought it would be too difficult or that we would be working with very complex products we couldn’t understand or feel passionate about.
B2B marketing sounded like working with industrial products – things like machinery. I now realize that while this is one possibility – there is so much more to choose from.
In this post, I discuss the differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing. Are they so different after all? And could you find your dream career in either of them?
B2C and B2B Marketing – Is There a Difference
In B2C you are selling to consumers. In B2B, you are selling to companies. That distinction is clear but what do they have in common? You are selling to people.
I would say that one of the biggest differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing is the buyer’s decision-making processes and the roles of the people involved in them. Thus, it’s not about the channels or the tools you use. Social Media, content marketing and marketing automation can easily be used in both.
B2B buying processes are often more complex than in B2C. Selling to an organization and closing the deal can take from days to years. Consumers tend to buy faster, and they can make decisions more rapidly. Although, the more expensive the product is, the longer the buying process tends to take.
It has also been argued that if B2B buyers make decisions based on reason rather than feelings. In my opinion, B2B buyers are less prone to make hasty decisions than B2C buyers, but even then, feelings can never be completely set aside. At the end of the day, B2B buyers are humans just like consumers.
“After all, it’s human to human (H2H).”
Nevertheless, another important difference between B2B and B2C is that consumers do not need to consider how their decisions affect a company. The decision is strictly personal. In B2B business, however, the buyer wants to make the right decision, both for himself and for the company. As you see, there is a double agenda.
Buyer Roles in B2B Marketing
In B2B marketing and sales, you need to consider all stakeholders inside (and outside) the organization. Often, there is not just a single buyer, but rather several people or even several teams involved in the decision making.
Based on Business 2 Community, there are four types of influencers in the organization.
- The Financial Influencer(s) (=give(s) the final approval to buy)
- The User Influencers (=will directly use your product)
- The Gatekeeper(s) (=the technical buying influence – with a mission to screen out or block your proposal)
- The Champion or Sponsor (=sponsors your proposal to the buying company)
- The Researcher(s)
As sales and marketing should go hand in hand, these stakeholders should be neglected in neither of them, although in marketing you may want to put more emphasis on certain stakeholders than others. This depends largely on your goals.
Let’s take an example. If your goals are in lead generation and your focus on inbound marketing, it could be wise to put a lot of effort into attracting the researchers. They are the ones searching for new solutions for their company, so they should be able to find your company and/or product easily online. They can be a great way to open the door and start a conversation with the company (potential customer). Most importantly, they can be a very important target group, even if they are not the final decision makers.
Buyer Roles in B2C Marketing
Buying decisions are increasingly made online. According to Forrester (2017), 60% of B2B buyers do not prefer to interact with a sales person as the primary source of information and 68% choose to research on their own, online. This just tells you that you need to put real effort into creating captivating digital content.
The same applies to B2C marketing and consumers, who lean even more heavily on online resources. The buying process is simpler, but as with B2B business there can also be people in different roles, such as initiator, influencer, buyer, user, and decider.
Let’s take a simple example. A daughter (initiator) suggests that the family should buy a new dishwasher. The mom asks advice from her colleague (influencer) to get an idea of which type of dishwasher they should buy. The mom (decider) finds the right model and makes a final decision. Then the dad (buyer) goes to the electronics store and buys the dishwasher. Everyone in the family (users) will be using that dishwasher.
This is just an example to highlight the differences between the roles. On many occasions, one person can have several roles as in this example, where the mom could be both decider and the buyer. Also, it’s good to notice that all these roles may not always be visible for the seller.
The most important thing to learn here is that all these different persons involved in the buying process will have their own opinions and perspectives in terms of your product. Thus, it is valuable to identify and recognize the stakeholders in your market and be sure to highlight the benefits of your product in a way that speaks to all of them.
Building Long-Lasting Business Relationships
In general, the market size differs between B2B and B2C business. It is rare for B2C business to have a very small niche, whereas in B2B you may have just a handful of potential clients. You may even be able to call them each by name. Thus, in this type of market an Account Based Marketing (ABM) can be a great strategic option. ABM is a strategy that focuses on a clearly defined set of target customers within a market, and it directs all marketing and sales efforts to these accounts.
In both B2C and B2B, you need to build some sort of relationship with the customer, but in B2B it is extremely crucial. It’s all about trust and communication. Can the client trust you? And with you, I mean both you as a company and you as an individual company representative.
Creating a long-lasting relationship in which the customer buys from you over and over again or remains a loyal user of your service requires a real effort. You need to get all the stakeholders onboard and make sure the customers are satisfied and positive, even after the contract has been signed.
Of course, in B2C marketing, your goal is also to make your customers happy and make them buy again. Yet, in B2B marketing and sales, the relationship-building is more personal. The seller and buyer are often on a first-name basis and the buyers will think, “Are these the types of people I would like to do business with?”
B2B Marketing is Pretty Cool
My work background is quite diverse. I have worked as a Salesperson in B2C retail business at Change of Scandinavia (a Nordic lingerie chain), as a Marketing Coordinator in a multinational corporation (a brand I have always loved, Adidas) and as a governmental Customer Support Advisor at the Finnish National Board of Education.
I had never thought of working with B2B software until I found TalentAdore. The company mission – ‘We bring the human touch back to recruitment’ – just spoke to me. I was also fascinated about the company’s solution, an AI-based recruitment software that enables all job candidates to receive personalized feedback. It helps companies to build sustainable employer brands, and it also enables job candidates to learn from recruitment processes and brings them closer to their dream job.
Before joining the company, I didn’t know much about the software industry. Nowadays I find it very exciting, and overall I love having this opportunity to work with a solution that changes the world for better.
“What matters the most is that you truly believe in the product you are selling.”
To wrap up: Even though I love to work with B2B marketing, I would say the most important thing in finding the right company to work with, is that you believe in the product or service you are marketing. If you can feel passionate about the solution, it makes no difference if you are working in B2B or B2C marketing.