The headline’s question is frequently asked because B2C and B2B are seen as markets with different types of customers, tools and rules of engagement.
While different approaches and channels may be used, I would argue the marketing fundamentals and goals are similar.
Perhaps the biggest common denominator is how marketing needs to be focused on the customer. It seems like a straightforward proposition; marketing success comes from serving the needs, interests, aspirations and pains of your customers.
In this respect, B2C and B2B companies have to operate using the same customer-centric approach.
Their marketing must, first and foremost, reflect a customer’s goals and objectives. Marketing campaigns need to clearly show customers the benefits of a product and why it matters to them.
In a recent article in Marketing Magazine, Jeff Fraser suggested that B2B marketing “has always been far ahead of B2C” because business customers are willing to provide more information to turn them into customers.
There is some merit in Fraser’s contention because B2B marketing is more targeted and focused, while B2C marketing is often a matter of spreading the word as far as possible in the hope that enough people respond. As companies look to leverage data to make better strategic and tactical decisions, perhaps the marketing “gap” will shrink.
For both B2C and B2B marketers, an important consideration are the channels used to communicate with customers. This is why B2C and B2B companies can take different approaches to their campaigns.
For B2C companies, a key consideration can be extensive brand awareness. The size of their markets may be broad so it is about spreading the word as far as possible. As important, B2C brands may want to actively engage customers in a public way to drive word of mouth.
This could mean the marketing channels used by B2C brands are more mainstream – social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram), video, blogs, radio and television. B2C companies may also be more enthusiastic about public engagement and conversations. It is a way for B2C companies to be seen as active participants in their communities.
On the other hand, many B2B companies may operate in specific niches and verticals. They have a more focused mandate that could prioritize quality over quantity. For B2B companies, leads and sales may define marketing success more than widespread brand recognition.
At the same time, B2B marketing efforts can be driven by education and lead nurturing. For example, B2B brands may get more value from the development of case studies, white papers and instructional videos. They are not as sexy but they are effective ways to get potential customers into the sales funnel.
This is not to suggest the marketing done by B2C and B2B companies is dramatically different; it has more to do with the use of different channels.
At the same time, B2C and B2B companies can learn from each other to make their marketing efforts more effectiveness and successful.
Many B2C companies, for examples, could glean a lot of marketing insight from Hubspot, a B2B company that sells marketing automation software.
An integral part of Hubspot’s marketing is content such as case studies and white papers. Hubspot has thrived by making this content accessible and engaging to a wide audience. Hubspot is also great at providing value through online tools such as its Website Grader and Sidekick, a email tracking tool.
Even if you don’t want to purchase marketing automation software, Hubspot creates content that educates people about interesting trends within areas such as social media and content marketing.
In this respect, Hubspot is focused on its target audiences (companies interested in marketing automation software), but it is also driving awareness about people who could turn into word-of-mouth ambassadors.
At the end of the day, marketing is about attracting the attention of target audiences. B2C and B2B companies use different techniques and tools to make this happen, but the fundamentals are the same.