If you are a business, you are either a B2B or a B2C business. Simply put, a B2B company sells their products/services to businesses, whilst a B2C company sells their products/services to consumers.
Sometimes, you can be both.
For example, as a recruitment firm you will have 2 sorts of clients, candidates you help find jobs (consumers) and organisations you recruit for (businesses). You are therefore both a B2B *and* a B2C business and thus you must have a strategy for each individual channel.
The reason for this is that B2B and B2C marketing has some differences as well as similarities.
In this article I will discuss what the primary differences are for your consideration, when thinking about your marketing & sales strategy:
1. ROI / demonstration of tangible value of your product/service
Whilst people are people, and an EMOTIONAL connection is important with whomever you deal with (whether B2B or B2C), it's imperative to demonstrate tangible value (ROI) if you are a B2B.
Whether you have one key decision maker or, as is common, more than one, they will need to present a business case internally to justify the expense and generate a Return-On-Investment to purchasing your product or service. They need to *see* how it works & gain a clear + tangible idea of what results they are likely to get.
2. Case studies, case studies, case studies
Whilst everyone wants customer testimonials for their business as a form of social proof, as a B2B it is *imperative* that case studies are utilised.
Again, building from the demonstrating value point in #1, these case studies can be used to tell a story of a customer's reality BEFORE they used your product/service, what happened when the did & the results that were achieved. This is a real opportunity to illicit in words and images an emotional response, clear examples of real-life people who have gained tremendous value in buying from you, and to drill down into the £s in revenue they have since gained (with ROI being calculated from what they earned vs how much they spent)
3. Multiple stakeholders... #trickytimes
If you are selling to a business, you have the added complication of finding your contact, & then also influencing him/her as well as all the others that are involved in making the buying decision. Often, it is multiple stakeholders at play here and you are at the mercy of internal bureaucracy.
In the early days (well, especially the early days), it's about getting in front of and influencing the major decision maker. It's all in those relationships (which take time, persistence & conscious effort to build; just like with your personal friends/family relationships), but having the best material available to you to link to, and use to pitch with - during those all-important interactions in the run-up to the meet, & at the meet where you carry out the in-person pitch. In my recruitment days at JP Morgan, it took about 18 months, meeting with staff and placing key roles in a team, for me to get a meeting - for 15 minutes - with a Managing Director there.
B2B business is more focused on logic and tangible ROI, rather than emotion; inevitably, you are dealing with humans who will still have emotions, *but* this emotion is lost in the complexity of the decision-making process, multiple-stakeholders involved and need to be persuaded... it's not a case of pitching to them all IRL ('in real life') in a room, or all of the relevant stakeholders say together and reading your beautiful content on a screen... #notgonnahappen
But, don't forget that everyone you sell to is human. I have worked in the mortgage industry, and there were two different mortgage software companies who had a very different feel. I was very bought into the brand/values/longevity of one of these, and not at all with the other. Both were B2Bs, and I was someone at the sort of "business" that they'd look to influence... so this goes to show that I had an emotional connection with one of these software companies (as incidentally, the Sales Director there), but not the other. So it's important to remember that, in your B2B interactions, emotion isn't completely removed, there's just a stronger leaning on logic and demonstration of tangible value (ROI) to the business you are selling to.