Marketing to businesses and consumers – key distinctions

Marketing teams represent brands with varying target audiences, which in turn determines the missions of the department and the tactics necessary to reach those demographics. But before any marketers go forth with further segmentation and research, they need to differentiate between their business and consumer targets.

In other words, the B2C and B2B distinction is the most primary decision point for any marketing effort, and must be addressed upfront.

So, how can marketers ensure that their initiatives are closely aligned with the expectations and demands of their target audiences, both in the business and consumer spheres? By paying attention to these key points of distinction and incorporating them into every aspect of their campaigns, marketing teams know exactly how to best target their efforts.

Long vs. short decision-making cycles"Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology." Brian Solis

Firstly, marketers must acknowledge that the importance of a purchase decision is weighed differently by businesses and consumers. While large organizations are likely to put a lot of thought and research into a purchase or partnership, the typical consumer will not approach the processes with as much thorough consideration.

The most immediate implication of this difference is the time it takes for each buyer type to finally pull the trigger on a purchase, meaning that the marketing efforts for each audience group needs to be styled accordingly. An article from Forbes Contributor Chuck Cohn argued that “compared to B2B, there is a relatively shorter selection process in B2C sales.

This means that when targeting businesses, a brand should develop its emails and direct mail campaigns to be more personalized and research-focused, allowing decision-makers to slowly move toward a logical conclusion. When aiming to capture consumer business, marketers should instead evoke an emotional reaction that inspires a quick purchase, either through promotional offers or event-based triggers.

Bigger vs. smaller pools of prospects

Another important difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the size of the target audiences in question. Since there are far fewer businesses seeking the particular services of a given brand, marketers need to be cautious with their outreach compared to the high-volume messages sent out to the consumer domain. The content and nature of email messages are therefore very distinct from one target group to the next.

Furthermore, a cross-channel approach is far more common in the world of B2C marketing, where legitimate prospects are tucked away in many different social channels, opposed to a standard email address. With this in mind, customer-focused marketers can experiment with different social platforms without running the risk of overexposure. Of course, B2B communications also take place across channels, especially phone and live chat formats.

Some key elements remain the same“Strong customer relationships drive sales, sustainability, and growth.” Tom Cates

While the differences between B2B and B2C marketing are indeed significant, there are a number of similarities that marketers must acknowledge as they develop campaigns for both audiences. For instance, database development and maintenance is critical on either front, as this primary resource will inform all outreach initiatives and be updated with any new developments from the front lines. Also, the core tenets of marketing hold strong regardless of the target, as stated by Forbes’ Chuck Cohn.

“It is easy to oversimplify B2B as being about cost and features and B2C as being about emotion and brand appeal when both depend on building a strong connection between you and your consumer,” explained Cohn. “Your success ultimately lies in your ability to personalize your pitch to that one prospect – company or individual – in your sights.”

No matter the type of audience a brand pursues, the fundamentals apply to every situation. Marketers must keep these key distinctions in mind when crafting their campaigns.