In previous years, the distinction between B2B and B2C markets has been clear. Consumer shoppers want to be wooed by savvy advertising and are inclined towards brand loyalty. Business customers, on the other hand, are research-driven and motivated by lower prices. However, these age old buyer roles are beginning to blend together, and marketers and sales teams would be wise to update their expectations.
Of course, there are still key differences between B2B and B2C markets, to establish a solid business marketing strategy, your team must be aware of each characteristic of these unique sectors. These are some of the principle differences between B2B and B2C and how your team can use them to adapt to the needs of your clients.
In the B2B market:
With B2B customers, trust in your company goes far deeper than your advertising or your social media presence. Instead, customers want to see they’re working with an industry expert. They want to see thoughtful, informative content on your website and active contributions to industry journals or professional networks like LinkedIn. The more active your company is within your industry’s circle of intelligence, the more your customers will trust your brand to provide the products they need.
YOU’RE FREE TO USE INDUSTRY JARGON.
Avoiding jargon is a rule of thumb amongst B2C marketers, but this rule doesn’t hold true in the B2B market. In fact, using industry jargon is actually a sign your company knows what it’s talking about. For the most part, business buyers are more informed about the products they’re looking to buy, and as a result, they’ll be more comfortable navigating the technical elements of the sales process. Your marketers and salespeople should incorporate this lexicon into their sales materials to increase the customer’s comfort in your staff’s competence.
MORE PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.
When making a purchase, a consumer is generally the only person weighing in on the final decision. However, business buyers may have multiple voices influencing the decision-making process, whether that’s through chain of command or other members of their team. Your sales team must expect several points of contact between each contributing member, while your marketers should cast a broader net as they reach out to business representatives.
BUYERS ARE PRODUCT-FOCUSED RATHER THAN BRAND-FOCUSED.
Brand loyalty is often driven by smart advertising, but in the B2B world, the product is far more important than the marketing design. This doesn’t mean your marketing efforts should fall by the wayside; rather, you should incorporate a wealth of product information into your advertising and sales efforts. For instance, if your salespeople can direct customers to a product page that’s complete with product specifications, white papers, and technical documentation, the customer will be able to contain their product research to the confines of your website. Not only will they be satisfied in your ability to provide them with the information they need, they won’t have to comb through the web to find it.
INFORMATION IS YOUR GREATEST TOOL.
There are a variety of other ways your customers may gather information from your company. You may operate an informative blog, a social media presence, or contribute to various news platforms. In B2C, marketers strive to keep their content short and to the point, often with a wealth of pictures and graphic elements. However, this isn’t necessary in the B2B market. Business buyers actually prefer longer content, as it gives them an opportunity to gauge your company’s expertise and decide if the product or service is worth the cost.
THE SALES CYCLE IS LONGER.
The B2C cycle can last from a matter of minutes to weeks, but it doesn’t come close to the length of the average B2B sales cycle. Given the long-term nature of these relationships, your sales and marketing teams must be ready to nurture the connection and maintain contact over a longer period of time. Additionally, sales contracts may last for months or years, which requires continued maintenance over the life of the contract and beyond. If your team can keep a long-term mindset, they’ll be more successful in maintaining relationships with your customers and bringing the sales cycle to its natural conclusion.
YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER BASE IS MORE FOCUSED.
Marketers who advertise to consumers have the luxury of creating generalized calls-to-action that speak to a very broad audience. B2B marketers, however, must hone in on their target market to ensure their campaigns achieve the best results. They accomplish this in a variety of ways, including the creation of buyer personas, web customization and highly specific email campaigns. This allows them to know which customer base they’re talking to, as well as what those customers want and how they may respond to marketing efforts.
There are differences in the B2C and B2B market, but there are also similarities. Above all, your marketers and salespeople must be able to adapt to changes in their audience. As technology pulls markets closer together, the business sector will see significant changes in the ways it interacts with its customers.
But while business buyers may become more like consumers as time goes on, there are still many key traits that set them apart. Information will always play a large role in the B2B purchase process, so be sure to develop informative content and provide valuable resources to your customers. By paying close attention to these seven key difference between the B2B and B2C market, your team will be better able to create intuitive business marketing strategies that inspire your customers and encourage brand loyalty in the business sector.
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