In the red corner, wearing the “plain, logical” shorts it’s B2B marketing. And in the blue corner, wearing the “sparkling, emotional” shorts, it’s B2C marketing. A showdown to relish: B2B vs B2C marketing. Who will come out on top?

B2B vs B2C marketing: let the battle commence

Actually wait. We’re asking the wrong question here. Because whether you focus on either one, or both, largely depends on what your product is. In other words, the market your product is intended for.

But you already know that. Or even if you don’t or aren’t quite sure, by doing a simple lean canvas exercise focusing on the target audience part, you can deduce it from there. You may need to market exclusively to one of them. Or a mix of both. The important thing is to know the differences. And how to approach it either way.

B2B vs B2C marketing: what’s the difference?

But anyway, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Many argue that in the modern day, it is difficult to separate B2B vs B2C marketing. Why? Because at the end of the day there is the crucial common denominator. People. Yes, whatever marketing you are aiming for, it doesn’t change the fact that you must tune in to the needs, habits and sweet spots of your audience as human beings.

However, that is scope for an entire blog post in itself. For now, there are still some fundamental differences which exist (on some level) between B2B and B2C marketing. So, what are they?

Let’s start with the B2B crowd.

Marketing to this audience definitely goes more on logic and down-to-earth approaches. Which means less fluff and sugar coating. Why is that? Because typically, B2B purchases take longer in terms of the purchase decision. There is often more than one decision maker. So you have more people or stakeholders to impress. Not only that, generally businesses want to take more time in deciding, and base their purchase decision on “traditional” things such as return on investment (ROI).

Taking the above into account this means that you will find marketing to B2B is generally more expensive (depending on campaign type). What I mean by this is that the cost of sale can be significantly higher.

In short, the key features to consider are:

  • Focus on the logic of the product or service
  • Little emotion involved in buying process
  • Hone in on the product features and talk about their usefulness in detail
  • Emphasize on how the product features will save a business time and money
  • Give estimations about % of ROI

Now let’s talk about B2C.

Now we throw all logic and sense out of the window, right? Well, not exactly. When marketing to a consumer audience, the focus needs to be on the benefits of the product or service in question (vs features). As we know as consumers ourselves, emotions can come into play heavily in our customer journey and buying decisions. And we don’t want to have to work hard to understand what you are selling. For example, long, detailed marketing messaging is a no-no. We want a nice, snappy story which gets straight to the point.

In short, the key features to consider are:

  • Focus on the benefits of the product or service and how it solves a problem
  • More emotion involved in the buying process
  • Less time required to decide
  • Use simple, short and clear messaging
  • Emphasize how the product or service will improve/enhance their lives

What type of marketing should you focus on?

OK so now you know the subtle differences for B2B vs B2C marketing. Which one should you focus on? It’s actually a trick question. Again, this depends on your product. Let it be your guide. Focus on the problems it solves, the easier it makes things, the positive habits it can be a catalyst for. It’s overall real added value.

Within that context, as I mentioned earlier, don’t forget that your “corporate” B2B target in a suit is still, surprise surprise, a real human being. So it’s not as though your B2B marketing should focus solely on LinkedIn from 9-5 for example. Your corporate target is also likely to be on Twitter and Facebook. So you need to be there too.

If in doubt, the rule of thumb is this: be where your target audience lives. This means you need to do your homework on your target audience. In other words, research. Then, build and distribute the content across any platform you see fit.

But, at the end of the day, the epicenter of your marketing campaign or content needs to include one main goal. To educate your audience on what you’re offering them, and why they should want it.

If you can do this, it doesn’t matter if your messaging or strategy is formal, sightly informal or downright casual.

Don’t forget…

In your marketing mix, you will need to make sure you leave some time and budget for growth hacking. Some label this “the new marketing”, and it’s data-driven, experimental approaches certainly make it interesting for startups. Especially those aiming for a B2B audience.

Indeed, there’s even the suggestion that marketing as we know it, or have known it, is dead. Long live hybrid marketing. This is an approach which says you have to look broader, deeper and be more adaptable.

It’s not only about being a specialist. You also have to be a strategist. You have to use data. And you have to mine. You have to analyse in more depth. You have to be super responsive and agile to latch on to sudden trends. It’s marketing which by default sees it as part of its role to learn any new, emerging skills that may have relevance to achieving company goals. It goes beyond B2B vs B2C marketing. Check out our in-depth post on hybrid marketing for more details.

Feeling ready to experiment? Go for it.


Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.