The thing about B2B Marketing


Marketers have a canny knack of making things unnecessarily complicated. I'm hopefully about to undo all of that for many and dispel a number of myths about the differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing.

Is there a difference?

The thing is, essentially, there are very few differences indeed. Business to consumer marketing (B2C) is about the marketing of products and services to consumers - end users if you like. Business to business marketing (B2B) concerns the marketing of products and services to other businesses, who are in fact "users", even if not the end one!

Both types of marketing follow exactly the same logic. A business possesses a product or service that they wish to communicate to a target audience of (soon to be) interested purchasers and existing purchasers. If this is another business, they might be the end user or they might choose to use this product or service to develop their own business in some way. They are still a customer though and given that they are also a human being, they will react, in many ways, like a consumer.

Different tools in the box

So maybe it's not all that different in principle. What can prove to be different is how the tools are used, where B2B marketing is compared to B2C.

Take ecommerce for example. For many years, we, as consumers have enjoyed all manner of sophisticated online businesses that react to our every demand. Amazon, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and more have created heavily marketed ecommerce monsters that many smaller operators can only remain in awe of.

Where is B2B in all of this? Smartly, following behind B2C it seems. Wholesalers, manufacturers and other business suppliers are now learning from B2C ecommerce marketing to develop their own empires. I have personal experience of this in confectionery wholesaling and my client learnt a great deal from the leaders in B2C. After all, a business customer is still that, a customer.

Another interesting example with regard to B2B marketing is social media. Slower to jump in, B2C again took the lead here, but B2B is fast playing catch up - with particular platforms much better than others where business communication is concerned. Twitter and Linked In are favoured for B2B marketing whereas Facebook leads the pack in a B2C environment.

B2B marketing is essential

There might be slightly different objectives and there might well be a different choice of tools from the box, but B2B marketing remains extremely important in today's highly competitive environment, even for the smallest of operators. The trick is to develop the optimum plan for your specific business and work your budget as hard as you can. Know your customers (whether business or end user) and understand what you need to do, learning from those around you when appropriate; carving your own path where you prefer.

It's an exciting time in marketing as technology continues to offer us an even bigger box of tools to draw from in order to achieve our objectives and reach our audience - but let's not get carried away. It's important to remember that the essence and theoretical principles of marketing remain broadly the same. The results come from effective planning and execution. And that includes B2B marketing.