We’ve previously discussed B2C marketing on this blog — but what of B2B marketing? These two business marketing terms provide an important lens for studying other businesses’ marketing strategies and defining a plan for your own business.
A recap of what these terms mean: B2C means “business to consumer,” while B2B means “business to business.”
These acronyms define two distinct styles of marketing, one for targeting everyday consumers and one for targeting businesses. Of course, some businesses might use both channels — for example, Amazon.
Amazon advertises its products and services to regular consumers, but they also have products and services geared towards other businesses. Most companies tend to have just one focus, however.
What is B2B?
To repeat, B2B means “business to business” and describes any business selling its products and services directly to other businesses. Some examples are industrial generator companies, catering companies (who often sell B2C), and business software companies. Most advertisements out in the world are from B2C companies, to be sure — B2B marketing strategies tend to be more directly targeted.
The easiest way to understand B2B businesses is by thinking about wholesalers. A company like Ross Dress For Less, the discount mall stalwart, buys products wholesale from other companies and then resells them to consumers — they’re a B2C company, but they get their products from B2B companies.
B2B business happens behind the scenes in the supply chain. For example, companies with massive ships used to move shipping containers across the ocean are B2B businesses. Companies that manufacture office supplies are B2B. Companies that sell office supplies directly to consumers might be B2B and B2C — you can buy bulk orders of paper from Staples. Most small or local businesses tend to be B2C but buy from B2B companies.
What is B2B Marketing?
Now you should have a decent understanding of what the B2B designation means and what sort of companies fall into that category. But how do B2B businesses do marketing? Sometimes it’s similar to B2C marketing strategies, but it’s mostly a little different. After all, B2C marketing is all about appealing to customers quickly. Consumers often make quick, emotion-driven decisions.
B2B marketing is, if you boil it down, about communicating value. Businesses tend to have long-term goals, budgets, and metrics. So a B2B marketing push might mention KPI (key performance indicators), ARR (annual recurring revenue), or streamlining workflows.
Another critical difference between a B2B and a B2C company is that B2B companies are much more likely to have a strong sales team. As a result, it often takes multiple calls, many emails, and in general, a back and forth process for a B2B business to make a sale.
For one, there are usually many competitors in any given market, and a B2B customer wants to make sure they’re getting the most value for their money. B2B transactions also tend to be larger than most B2C transactions. Here are some examples of B2B marketing strategies.
Digital Marketing for B2B
Digital marketing is very common for B2B businesses. LinkedIn ads, for example, are a great way to reach a qualified audience of other businesspeople.
You can precisely target your ads to people in specific locations or certain job roles. One thing about digital marketing is that it’s very easy to track how effective your ads are. For example, you can track how many views each ad gets, how many clicks, and so on, getting a precise picture of your marketing ROI (return on investment).
Traditional Marketing for B2B
It can be more difficult and more expensive — potentially providing a smaller ROI — for B2B businesses to utilize traditional marketing channels. This is best for B2C marketing. However, B2B businesses still use billboard advertising, television advertising, radio advertising, and other traditional channels all the time.
There’s no better way to target customers in the real world and ensure that they’re aware of you than traditional marketing. For example, let’s say you’re a marketer at a big manufacturing company, and you’re chasing a massive sale with a new client. Of course, this is an extreme example, but you could buy a billboard near that person’s office or on their commute, and in that way, make sure they’re aware of and thinking about your business.
To wrap up, here’s one more way to think about the difference between B2C and B2B marketing. With B2C marketing, there tends to be a wider audience. For example, suppose you’re advertising a restaurant or a local auto repair shop. In that case, it makes sense to try grocery store advertising and work with Cartvertising to build brand awareness in a specific area.
With B2B marketing, your audience tends to be a specific group of businesses and a specific group of high-level people within those businesses. So you’re chasing higher-dollar transactions but fewer transactions than B2C businesses.