In the red corner, we’ve got the overly emotional, benefit-driven, impulse buying, often imitated but never replicated B2C marketing. And in the blue corner, we’ve got highly rational but oh-so-boring, features-driven, logical, and rational but takes forever to make a decision, B2B marketing. Both have a time and a place and that time and place are here and now.
So let’s get to it. So if you’re interested in learning about the latest and greatest marketing strategies, tools, tips, tricks, and tactics, well, you may want to consider subscribing and hitting that little notification bell. Now, before we dive into the meat and potatoes about B2B versus B2C, we need to make sure that we’re operating from the same definition. So let’s quickly cover that first. First up is B2B or business to business. Now, this is a business that operates by selling its products to other businesses. Kind of self-explanatory. The same thing pretty much goes for B2C or business-to-consumer, which is a business that operates by selling its products or services directly to consumers.
Now, when I first got started in marketing, I got to learn all about the B2C market first. This is what most people think about when they see an ad on TV or hear something on the radio or see something online. My introduction to B2B marketing, however, came from one of the worst places possible to learn about it, a textbook. I remember like it was yesterday, sitting, staring, and quickly losing focus on what I was supposed to be concentrating on, and my textbook soon became my pillow for the next 45 minutes.
But it’s hard to blame me looking back. After all, my B2B marketing textbook was filled with such amazingly exciting chapters like organizational buying behavior, supply chain management, interfirm relationships and networks, relationship portfolios, and key account management. And who could ever forget the classic? Segmenting the business market and estimating segment demand. I remember thinking to myself, What is this stuff? At the point I was taking this class, I’d already been studying marketing for years. I’d built a successful agency and was already consulting some of the best and brightest minds in marketing from all over the world. I’d also already worked in sales and marketing for years in both B2B and B2C industries and sold everything from shoes to airplanes.
I knew the concepts that they were talking about in the textbook were just written for academia. Big words and concepts just to sound interesting, but with little real-world application. Sure, there were some good gems in there and some important takeaways to learn, but even for a self confess marketing geek, this was just too much. Nobody ever built a business studying inter-firm relationships and networks. Here’s the thing, whether B2B or B2C, marketing is marketing. And marketing is little more than communicating how your business, your product, or your service can help solve your customer’s problems.
Don’t overcomplicate it. The whole B2B versus B2C thing confuses things by suggesting that each requires its own set of strategies and tactics and underlying principles. Now, before I suggest a better alternative to comparing which one, B2B or B2C, let’s first take a quick look at the differences between them. Now, business-to-business industries typically have the following traits in common. They have fewer customers, larger orders, higher value orders, longer decision time, and in general, a longer relationship is formed. B2c businesses, on the other hand, typically have more customers, smaller orders, lower value orders, shorter decision times, and a shorter or transactional relationship time.
Now, there are exceptions to the rule. In some cases, B2B businesses might have smaller-priced items and some B2C businesses might have higher-priced items. But in general, the criteria work pretty darn well. B2B marketing typically focuses on fewer but larger customers and B2C marketing on more but smaller customers. This means for B2B type marketing, you’re going to have a little more incentive to put a little more punch behind your pitch because you’re going to have to market to fewer customers.
If you’re doing B2C type marketing, well, you’re going to want to make sure that your message has a little bit more of a broader appeal because you’re going to want to appeal to more customers. But here’s where people, and those textbooks, start to go, Oh, so wrong. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, here’s the cold hard truth. People like doing business with people, not businesses. So even when we’re talking about massive, nameless, and faceless corporations, it’s still people behind those businesses that are making the purchasing decision, which means it doesn’t make a lot of sense to toss out common sense and replace it with business up your marketing. This is especially true today where customers, whether B2B or B2C, have become increasingly skeptical, jaded, and cynical of marketing in general.
They’ve seen it all and they’ve been burned way too many times by spammy marketing, hyped-up claims, and over-promising and underdelivering. Fortunately, there is an alternative and one that’s easier, more effective, and a whole lot more fun too. That alternative is to all but completely abandon the constructs of B2B or B2C and choose instead to embrace human-to-human or H2H marketing. Originally coined by Brian Kramer, human-to-human or H2H-to-H2H marketing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, marketing like a genuine, authentic person. This means removing inauthentic, stiff, and rigid marketing messages and choosing instead to replace them with genuine, bona fide human communication in all its messy and beautiful glory.
This means more smartphone videos and fewer Hollywood productions. Oh, hey there. More conversational style email marketing and less totally personality devoid business talk. It means eliminating words like synergy from all of your marketing and replacing them instead with words that people use, maybe like cooperation or working together. It means caring about the person on the other end of the call or the email or the social media post. And it means not treating customers like products or assets or a means to an end, but rather the end itself.
But above all, it means being human and seeking to serve people in the best way that you can. When you do this with good intentions, because you really can’t fake this stuff, well, a funny thing starts to happen. You’ll find your marketing becomes way more effective. It also becomes way more fun and a lot easier to create. And you’ll find that your audience will start to overlook any tiny flaws or errors that you may have made in the past that people quickly jumped on. Typos, bad hair days, too many mums, aws, whatever.
People are a lot more willing to forgive other people when they recognize that they have the best intentions at heart. Some of the best B2B and B2C marketing that I’ve ever created and ever seen have gracefully walked the line between being professional but approachable, authentic but engaged, and results-driven but people-driven first. Because authenticity and being truly human doesn’t mean sacrificing professionalism. Whether B2B or B2C, results matter, but people matter more. All right, so thanks so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If so, make sure to give it a thumbs up, subscribe to the channel, and if you have any comments or questions about this episode, make sure to leave them in the comments section below.