Marketing is critically important for any type of business. But new businesses or freelancers might be confused by the terms “B2B” or “B2C” marketing. Today, let’s break down both types of marketing and examine how they differ from one another. You’ll also learn which you should focus on depending on your business model’s normal customers or buyers.

WHAT IS B2B MARKETING?

In short, B2B marketing (short for business-to-business marketing or promotion) emphasizes logic and the actual features of the product or service you are marketing. Rather than using appeals to emotion, sentimentality, or nostalgia, B2B marketing is practical, requires you to understand your potential buyers or business partners, and how those businesses may operate.

It’s certainly more about who might use the product or the service instead of the actual qualifications or benefits of the product you want to sell. Marketing materials, therefore, need to be quite in-depth and produce effective messages with concrete results.

B2B marketing emphasizes how much time you could save, how much money you can make, or other beneficial things a buyer might get from a product. In other words, the return on investment is emphasized rather than the value of the investment itself.

As a great example, if you’re using B2B marketing as a software provider or developer, you’ll need to emphasize how software can streamline a buyer’s work. Or you can include demonstrations in your marketing materials for how a particular software can increase customer conversion or retention.

Another big element of B2B marketing is that your buyer will understand the same kind of jargon or market specifics that you will. You don’t have to boil things down to a layman’s approach or understanding as often (though this can still be helpful).

WHAT IS B2C MARKETING?

B2C marketing (also known as business to consumer promotion or marketing) is a completely different beast, although like all marketing, it does rely on the same few basic principles as B2B marketing.

B2C marketing requires you to focus on the benefits of the product you want to sell, although your materials and language will be more emotional. Your marketing straight to a customer rather than to a business that might be interested in practical advantages for your product or service.

The difference might seem minor, but it will seem more important when you look at two pages or pamphlets next to each other using B2B or B2C marketing. The fact is most consumers aren’t interested in very long marketing messages, and especially aren’t interested in statistics, nearly as much as fellow businesses.

They don’t want a full analysis of long-term benefits using data, marketing jargon, and so on. Keep your messages short and to the point, but you can sprinkle in a lot of emotional appeal and humor into your marketing material to draw folks into your campaign.

Furthermore, consumers usually make the decision whether to buy something or pass it over in a shorter timeframe than other businesses. For instance, most customers decide whether they’ll purchase something within either a few minutes or a few days. Businesses (with whom you would use B2B marketing) may take upwards of weeks or months before deciding whether to buy something.

You’ll also want to emphasize different things in your marketing materials for a B2B marketing campaign. Ease-of-use, emotional appeals, benefits are much more important these types of marketing materials as opposed to when you market to another business.

WHAT ARE THE BIG DIFFERENCES?

Aside from the general overview described above, there are some key differences between B2B and B2C marketing efforts.

RELATIONSHIPS

With B2B marketing and lead generation, you’ll try to build personal relationships with other businesses that can help drive long-term business. For instance, if you’re a freelancer looking to get another long-term client, you’ll need to build a relationship with the client over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become friends, but it does mean that a certain amount of trust needs to be established between both entities.

The same principle is true if you’re a business that sells a particular product and needs to build a relationship with a manufacturing or production center.

On the flipside, with B2C marketing, you’ll more often establish “transactional” relationships. While brand loyalty is a thing, in most cases you don’t need to worry so much about building a relationship with the consumer. In fact, most consumers tacitly understand that you’re both “using” each other; they’re using you to get a particular product and you’re using them for their money.

BRANDING

Your branding efforts will also differ between B2B and B2C marketing. For the former, your branding will want to emphasize your relationships between yourself and your other clients or business partners. You’ll also want to emphasize your lead generation, brand recognition, and consistent results in any of your branding materials.

For B2C marketing, your message should be prioritized to a much higher extent. The message, including the slogan, logo, and other marketing materials that all connect to your overall brand, can help determine whether a potential customer becomes a buyer. Your message needs to hit the right emotional marks, imply credibility, and connect with the customer all at the same time.

AUDIENCE TARGETING

Lastly, with B2B marketing you’ll probably try to find a niche market. Successful B2B businesses largely operate within distinct market sectors or niche is where they have full control or dominance. This does require lots of data gathering and analysis.

B2C marketing efforts or businesses will target audiences by following a purchasing funnel. You’ll analyze demographics and other data as customers move through your purchasing funnel. You’ll also continually refine your marketing efforts based on who makes it to the end of the funnel and becomes a buyer.

WHICH SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON?

You should focus on B2B or B2C marketing depending on what your business’ primary customers are. If you sell most of your products or services to other businesses, rather than just users or consumers, you’re a B2B business and should tailor your marketing efforts that way. The reverse is true if most of your products or services go straight to customers rather than other businesses.