Marketing a product to an individual consumer rather than to a business is often a very different proposition. Or is it? The growth of digital media means that there is an increasing number of channels and methods from which to chose. So how should marketers approach the task of engaging and winning customers? It’s a bit like learning a dance.
Summary of the differences between B2B vs. B2C marketing
Businesses that Sell to Consumers
The B2C marketing challenge is to build product awareness and convert browsers into buyers. As it’s usually a ‘low involvement’ purchase, say to buy a confectionery bar, marketing campaigns must capture the consumer’s interest immediately. Thus, typically mass promotion activities like tv and press advertising are employed. In addition, special offers such as discounts or vouchers help ‘activate’ the purchase. The challenge is therefore to establish an effective one-step routine.
In the online world, an email or search marketing campaign encourages consumers to click and buy. The email or advertisement encourages consumers to a website landing page designed to sell the product. The purchasing process must be simple and easy, for example, by integrating the shopping basket and checkout page. Requiring more than a couple of clicks risks the customer going to another shop.
Businesses that Sell to Businesses
The goal of B2B marketing is also to convert prospects into customers but the purchase is usually more considered. More decision makers are also usually involved and the challenge is to engage and educate the target audience and build relationships. To succeed a B2B company must generate and nurture leads over a longer time period. A careless or quick step could mean a lost partner (or customer). The challenge is to therefore also to establish an effective multi-step relationship building routine.
In the online world, an email campaign or online advertising campaign again typically drives prospects to a website. However it is less likely to achieve an immediate sale. A more realistic goal is to secure a meeting with a sales representative in order to discuss the customer’s business requirements in more detail and also influence him, her or them to buy (i.e. complete a sale). By providing information about the products and services, benefits, features, possibly pricing, and contact information, reassures customers and wins his or her trust. Conceiving marketing activity as one of several steps in a longer, integrated, multi-step campaign that includes awareness and relationship building via direct mail, newsletters, video promotion, webinars, virtual exhibitions, conferences or live events and social media such as Twitter or Linked In is more likely to persuade.
While there are differences in B2B vs. B2C marketing, the principles about engaging and building customer relationships remain the same. At the outset understand the customer journey from the customer’s point of view. Understand the sources of information and the selection criteria that the customer uses. Understand the triggers and barriers to building awareness and relationships, through to the sale. At each step along the journey, consider how the experience that your brand delivers is different to or better than your competitors. And if it is no different, consider what improvements to make.
If you are a B2B marketer learn how to dance the marketing 2 or 3 step. If you are a B2C marketer while you may have mastered a 1 step routine, a 2 or 3 step routine may help you to build stronger customer relationships. Determine the appropriate messages, media and timing to attract and engage customers at each step on the journey. In so doing you will be better able to invest your resources where they really make a difference.
1. 10 winning digital marketing strategies – why it helps to think like a gamekeeper, The Marketing Directors
2. How B2B customers search for tech solutions, Tenfold.com