Like it or not, we live in a world where we are seen as customers first and foremost. We’ve been customers since we were in nappies, and have been advertised to since before we could spell the word “advertised”.
Being exposed to this world of marketing and advertising from such a young age and in the everyday, with billboards and YouTube ads everywhere you look, makes us think that the only sort of advertising is one directed towards the everyday person. The kind that looks for comfier pillows with extra neck support or the streaming service device with the most intuitive user interface.
And whilst this global market of customers – the B2C, or business to consumer – is undeniably huge (with B2B e-commerce market value estimated at $20tr by 2027), there exists another type of customer that marketers have great interest in, which is B2B – or business to business.
These two markets are notably different for digital marketers to understand so let’s figure out what is different between the two, and what marketers can do to best approach and understand them.
Business to Business Marketing
B2B marketing is where one business’ primary customer is another business, as opposed to everyday people. Having your customer base simply be a “business” can seem quite vague, but one of the most important things a marketer must understand when it comes to B2B marketing is that the “customer” actually tends to be several key decision-makers or stakeholders that must all decide on and agree that your product or service is the right one for them and their company budget.
On the other side of the coin, the person in the business who requires the product or service might not be the same person who is buying it, so it’s up to marketers to ensure that they are concentrating their efforts on the particular user as well as the actual purchaser.
For example, a user of a digital service like a CMS may need a plugin to help use it more easily, but if they’re not in control of spending, they need to have the right information to persuade whoever is in charge to cough up and buy it. They may not know exactly how to describe best why they want it, but if the marketers can empower customers to speak intelligently about the value of the product, then there is a better chance that that chain of command is more easily navigable and ends with a higher chance of a conversion.
Either way, the purchasing cycle of a typical B2B customer is a lot longer, so expect to take more time on them in order to grab that conversion. Fortunately, once they’re aware of the solution you offer, the focus comes less on advertising it and ensuring a good sell is made, and so less money can be spent on ad spend, and more on that customer retention.
Furthermore, this long buying cycle allows the marketer to understand the customer more; where they sit in the organisation, who they need to convince, and what is important to them. This will further ensure that the potential customer can better persuade the purchaser.
Case studies are particularly effective at highlighting how your product or service saves money, resources or time. Webinars, events and workshops allow buyers insight into the ways they can be applied to the business, whereas short form videos allow for succinct information to be more easily digested by the user. This is important when advertising to B2B customers – they don’t want to be spammed with adverts that don’t tell them enough, they benefit more from SEO-optimised informative articles that are tied up with a soft sell.
Examples of popular business products and services include project management software Asana (which is a favourite in the Framework Office), cloud storage service Dropbox, and team communications service Slack, all of which have market values way in the billions.
Unlike B2C customers, you also have to make sure that you speak to B2B customers in a logical no-nonsense fashion. Explain its features, why it will improve their daily business, and the rest should sell itself. There is no need to play to the emotions of these customers as it is a purely practical buying choice and not one that the customer feels like they need to incrementally improve their own personal lives. In a way, it’s quite a detached shopping process, so it helps to ensure that the marketing is no-nonsense and to the point.
That isn’t to say that you treat them less than you would with a B2C customer, in fact, B2B customers expect to be treated well and catered to. They want that soft-educative aspect of the sale so they know that they’re making the best decision for their company and will get credit for purchasing a tool that saves their team money and time.
Business to Customer Marketing (B2C)
B2C marketing involves selling products and services directly to everyday customers like you and me who intend to buy things for personal purposes and not that of a bigger company, so therefore all marketing efforts should be focused on the desires, needs and issues that users experience in daily life.
The B2C customer is most likely interested in an emotional perspective, and a kind of fantasy that they want from their lives. When creating the marketing efforts for these customers, the value of the product or service should be front and centre, with flowery, polished language that will keep them interested.
A large part of the buying experience for the B2C customer lies in the exciting part of the purchasing process like how to save money on a valuable product. If they can feel like they’ve saved money on something that is durable, then they will be pleased.
These customers also love content that resonates with them and “speaks their language” even if it doesn’t necessarily relate to the product.
Unlike the B2B purchasing cycle, B2C customers tend to make more snappy decisions without consulting anyone else first; this saves marketers lots of time and money as customers already know what they want and they don’t have to be told or persuaded.
Despite this, you still only have a limited amount of time to capture their attention so marketers have to make sure that their online presence for their products are well-optimised for Google so more people see them.
Consumer messaging for B2C needs to also be relatable and more casual so as to not confuse them and seem like you’re trying too hard to relate to them as people. However, it’s also important to adopt a unique voice and even some humour where possible to increase trust.
It’s important to not overwhelm the B2C customer with newsletters or long form content like you would with B2B as they are more used to a simple transactional scenario based on the idea that the marketer knows and understand what they need. Snappy messages that let them know how quickly their problems can be solved are most effective.
Trust is huge for B2C customers and so implementing solid social proof wherever you can – be it your website or on social media – is crucial to gaining their trust enough for them to make a purchase.
Framework Marketing is a national digital marketing agency rooted firmly in the construction industry that helps construction companies grow further than they could ever imagine. Interested in knowing more? Get in touch here!
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