What is B2B Marketing? What are the differences between B2B and B2C Marketing?
When thinking about marketing, what comes to mind first is possibly a TV advertisement for drinks, a creative social media post, a fancy promotion around the downtown, or maybe some discounts in different retailing stores. All of these above which we are so used to are all part of B2C Marketing, which is a strategy to us, the “customers”.
Or maybe, if having some basic marketing knowledge, you might say it’s about theories and concepts like 4P, 5-forces, or some funnels and journeys. For all these, they are still mostly designed for strategies for communicating with customers.
As for B2B Marketing, messages are between business and business. Therefore, there are huge differences for itself or its strategies from B2C Marketing, below are 2 important differences between them:
Different Target Audiences, Different Strategies
B2C Marketing faces normal customers which gives more data and information to understand customers’ persona and favors. By understanding these, strategies can be set aligning these.
B2B Marketing may face company managers, procurement departments, or development engineers. In the past, B2B Marketing usually had to be face-to-face selling to find out the right decision-maker and complete the deal.
By comparing the target audiences, we can figure out that the decision situation is different for clients.
When normal customers choose goods or services, their decision situation is “dot-shapes”, mostly focusing only on the situation itself. This means if we can fulfill the needs for the one situation, we can turn it into a purchase. In other words, buying under one situation is what we sometimes considered as “impulse purchase”, and this is what rarely happens under B2B Marketing.
The values that B2B Marketing provides must fulfill the needs of clients for a period, no matter it’s about managing, decision-making, profit-making, etc. As a result, there are several decision-makers under B2B Marketing, so when setting pain points, we must target pain points for each of them.
Due to the facts above, the channels, messages, and ways used under B2B and B2C Marketing are different.
Different Messages, Different Ways of Managing Brands
The biggest difference between B2B and B2C Marketing when doing brand managing is the message we want to deliver, it is crucial to clarify what are the key messages we want to deliver to our target audiences while doing each of them. Identifying your marketing materials, channels, and how your designs and images obtain your goal will help you clarify your messages.
Most of the time, B2C Marketing is more creative and focuses on impressing audiences. The reason behind this is to make customers aware of, notice, remember, or ultimately, choose you. While B2B Marketing emphasizes more about expertise and consistency.
The former persuades clients when interacting with them. The way we can show expertise is by using formats like white paper, key reports, or graphs to convince them.
For the latter, B2B Marketing doesn’t have to become the coolest or fanciest brands, but to be consistent that we can convince clients that the cooperation will be long-term and stable. Hence, it is important to show consistency when managing a brand to keep ourselves trustworthy.
The Importance of B2B Marketing
The reason why B2B businesses must do marketing and branding is that they have to face the threat that competitors might replace them. When there are no competitors exist, then there could be no need for marketing. Nonetheless, this is not realistic.
Thus, businesses must use marketing and branding to make themselves unique, and to tell stories demonstrating how fast, how efficient, how professional they are.
Within B2B Marketing, CIS (Corporate Identity System) plays an important role.
Like B2C businesses, B2B businesses also have their markets and audiences they need to communicate with. Especially businesses here in Taiwan with high global market portions, CIS is essentially for them.
To enhance their brand image, attending exhibitions and setting up websites are not only ways to accomplish this goal, but also attract new clients and increase the loyalty of old clients.
Moreover, under the market changes, many B2B businesses in Taiwan have realized that they have to improve the whole system like reinforcing their products competitive, developing new services, and also, of course, focusing more on B2B Marketing.
Under this background, CIS is the best weapon to declare messages to the public. We can use the CIS-related visual marketing materials to demonstrate new businesses, new product lines.
By doing so, we can not only declare the message that the business keeps innovating but also increase the chances of purchasing by making potential clients understand products and services in a visual way.
How to do B2B Marketing and Business Developing?
Replace “Commercial focused Mindsets” with “Product focused Mindsets”
This sounds so much violates our common knowledge of marketing, but this is the best mindset for B2B Marketing. As we mention, B2B Marketing is about showing clients expertise and consistency. Consequently, when doing B2B Marketing, we don’t have to come up with the most creative or special ideas like the commercials we normally see in daily lives, which are usually more sentimental.
B2B Marketing should focus more on goods and services themselves, to persuade businesses in a rational way to become our clients. Accordingly, explaining and establishing brands through cases is more convincing than commercials most of the time.
Modify and Adapt the Common Marketing Funnel
Many people must have heard about lots of different kinds of marketing funnels or structures like“AISAS” or“AARRR”. Although these are mostly designed for B2C Marketing, it does not mean we can't make any use of it.
The mindset of the whole structure and the process are similar for both, they are both about thinking about the journey that will make targets see you and eventually choose you. But for example, for a business being at the research or evaluation phases, as we mentioned before, they have to think through the whole organization and the whole period. Only progressing to the next phase after thorough consideration.
Furthermore, in the awareness phase, B2B businesses usually have to help clients to aware of their own needs, to then become aware of goods and services. To modify and adapt different phases of the marketing funnel, is an important way to get started while doing B2B Marketing or business development.
Inbound Marketing, differ from outbound marketing which we normally see, is the most suitable mode for B2B Marketing.
Normally, when businesses try to gain new clients from making many impressions and high profits through a variety of tools, is what we called “outbound marketing” As for “inbound marketing” B2B businesses use, is to passively wait for clients to gather, then to build trusts to increase the success rate for transferring.
Also, as the founder of HubSpot said, we can describe inbound marketing as “nature”, in which animals will naturally gather around were with water and food. Consequently, as long as being attractive to customers and offering high value and relative content to establish and accelerate brand image, customers will gather spontaneously from social media, blogs, and search engines. This is when B2B Marketing shows its real value.
While executing, B2B businesses must show clients the contents they want to show when clients are searching for information. Some normally used ways are as below:
- Content Marketing
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Social Media Marketing
- Word of Mouth
All these ways have massively changed under the digital age, at the same time, play a more important in the era. Therefore, we are now looking into B2B Marketing under the digital age.
B2B Marketing under the Digital Age
To define digital marketing, we can simply introduce it as “using digital channels and technologies to spread the message, communicate with customers, to accomplish the market goals”. As for B2B Marketing, there is also no escape from this trend.
Statistics on Google points out that 90% of the buyers will research products through searching online, averaging 12 times of searching before they make deeper contact with a brand. In other words, buyers nowadays are already used to doing research through searching until they are willing to purchase, then contact the sellers. Hence, while traditional ways of B2B Marketing are facing a massive change, digital transformation and digital marketing become urgent.
So, what exactly does digital marketing do? Here are some common methods:
According to the list, we can see there are matches between methods like content marketing, SEO, and social marketing with inbound marketing. Consequently, how to utilize these methods under the digital trend is the key point to succeed with B2B Marketing.
SEO can not only increase the opportunity of passively gaining clients, but also give advice that helps potential clients before they become one, which increases their trust in you.
When doing SEO, we can consider that under what kind of situations clients need your products and services. By writing down these situations and solutions, we satisfy the needs of clients. In the meantime, this is a way to educate our clients and demonstrate how to maximize the products’ values.
Finally, deepening and broadening the content can establish professional images. This also plays a part of “expertise” is an important role of B2B Marketing.
We have to emphasize again that SEO is not just a chance to gain more passive exposures, but an essential part of B2B Marketing.
First of all, we consider the value it creates. Unlike advertisements which most likely have a one-time result, if using the right keywords, SEO could be impactful in a long run, which means a high ROI. On top of that, SEO can successfully leave a professional and favorable impression in customers’ minds. Under the digital age, the cost of researching and considering has switched, therefore, this is when SEO plays its role. Also, compare to keyword ads and Facebook ads, customers are more willing to trust the organic search on Google. It is easy to tell since the top 3 organic search results each have a click-through rate of 30-50%, nonetheless, even if being on the top of keyword ads, sometimes it still doesn’t have a click-through-rate higher than 3%. This kind of trust of SEO is how it generates its greatest value – create trust and professional images for a brand.
Content Marketing Comparison – B2B Marketing vs B2C Marketing
After introducing SEO, let’s dig into the core of B2B Marketing – Content Marketing.
What is content marketing? Content Marketing is a way to attract customers by constantly creating high-quality and high-relevance content for customers. Set “shifting consumer behaviors and habits as a target to keep communication with them, eventually grows trust and loyalty inside their minds.
So what exactly does “content” refers to? What kind of content should we create? Due to the difference between B2B and B2C Marketing, we will also point the difference out while defining what content is.
Frist is the style and attitude shown in the contents. B2C Marketing usually emphasizes more on the contents like consumer using situations, what values can the products or services bring to the customers to communicate. Unlike advertisements that focus on increasing short-term results, content marketing in B2C businesses focuses on making customers slowly understand and “want” you.
As we mentioned above how expertise matters when doing B2B Marketing, it should stick with the “E-A-T principle”. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The concept comes from Google's Search Quality Rater guidelines. By satisfying the three aspects, businesses can establish a deeper image in clients’ hearts and build trust.
Additionally, we now also consider SEO in our planning. Since keywords setting is important for marketing, how to input the right keywords into content is a big part of gaining success. To decide what keywords suit the customers the best, we can think of target audiences’ “persona”, which means to think about under what kind of keywords what characteristics, backgrounds or values of customers will cover. We may not be explaining products or services at the moment, but to introduce personal styles, professional tips or even how to pursue ideal goals. Whenever you can touch on the keywords that the customers concern about, you can grow your chance to be seen and others be interested in your contents.
Back to B2B Marketing, although according to different products and services there are different goals. But B2B Marketing is still mainly about directly satisfying their needs. For instance, when there is a need of component, the situation or persona seem not to be much important, and most of the clients knows what they want to search.
Nevertheless, targeting these keywords precisely and to create content is the best way to convince clients.