Many online marketers claim that “there’s no difference any more whether you’re talking to consumers or corporate buyersâ€”you’re just talking to PEOPLE”. I’m claiming, though, that there is still a difference between B2C and B2B.
It is certainly true that all marketing should shift more toward a one-on-one style of talking to be efficient and engaging. Still, the differences between the B2C and B2B buying/selling processes have not disappeared. Some comparisons:
|Single decision-maker||A larger group, often across functional/departmental borders|
|Tackle possible objections of one person||Tackle possible objections of many people, including some that see the proposed purchase as a threat to their position or status, or causing more work to them or their department|
|When the person you talk to agrees to the purchase, you can close immediately||When the person you talk to agrees to the purchase, you need him/her as your “agent” within the organization to convince the rest of the purchasing team|
|May make a purchase on a whim or to follow a perceived trend||Always look at return on investment and ancillary costs (service, repairs, lifetime ownership cost etc.)|
|Influenced by emotional arguments||Influenced mainly by rational arguments|
|Usually has the money ready or easily available||Usually needs to go through an investment proposal process before getting the funds|
|A single face-to-face contact may lead to purchase||Purchase process is complex and usually requires several meetings, often involving groups of people from both sides|
|Purchase process is simple enough to be automated (advertising, direct mail, e-shops)||Purchase always takes place through person-to-person contacts|
The list could go on, but let this suffice for now.
Even looking at these examples, it is obvious that you will have to “talk to people” in substantially different ways if you’re selling to B2B customers. The differences also play a role in why you shouldn’t assume that using social media to engage B2B customers is similar to engaging B2C customers.
Or perhaps you disagree with my reasoning. Either way, shoot me a comment. I’m looking forward to a debate!
More on the subject in Alastair Allday‘s e-book Think Like a Copywriter (highly recommended).
There’s also a good article by Mike Collins in the online magazine Manufacturing Business Technology.