Selling to businesses versus selling to consumers each has a unique set of challenges, but is B2B marketing truly that much different from B2C marketing? A recent LinkedIn poll by CMO.com asked senior marketers exactly that question.
Of the 1,042 people who took the poll, 52 percent saw enough similiaries and differences between B2B and B2C to answer "yes and no." Meanwhile, 39 percent said B2B and B2C are like "night and day," 8 percent said they are essentially the same, and 1 percent said they were unsure.
The poll also elicited much feedback, with marketing execs coming forward and explaining their stance. Following is a sample of their comments:
Marvin Mason, CMO, Crisis Prevention Institute:
At the heart of B2B and B2C is a person. I believe people generally make buying decisions based on how it makes them look/feel. As Simon Sinek says, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." However, I recognize that spending your own money versus a business' money introduces nuances that influence buying behavior. Thus, B2B and B2C are the same and different.
Bill Crandall, CMO, Della Femina Rothschild Jeary + Partners:
Generally speaking, B2B is a purely rational selling proposition based on the reputation of the selling company, specifically demonstrated end-benefits, and price. Indeed, I've never heard of even one business person who ever bought a product or service just because they personally related to or identified with the brand. On the other hand, B2C is always a combination of rational and emotional buying motives, where purchase incentives and buying accountability are strictly at a personal, individual level.
Richard Rothstein, EVP Of Sales And Marketing, NewsUSA:
One of the differences in the purchasing is fear. If you buy a car, or a house, for yourself, it may wind up being a mess, but your livelihood isn't on the line. No one is going to fire you just because the car breaks down, but people do feel that pressure when buying for their business.
Randy Mitchelson, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, iPartnerMedia.com and DealerPartnerSolutions.com:
There are different sales cycles, different sales processes, and different decision makers. B2C is more spontaneous while B2B takes budget, consensus, review, and hand-holding.
Francis Fleurant, CEO, ForeverFit Canada:
Yes and no. B2C and B2B marketing are both used to sell something to someone (so yes). The strategy, however, is going to be different (so no). B2C will try to seduce the customers, catch their attention, and try to make a “wow” effect. B2B strategy will try to convince the customers by bringing solid and true facts. B2B will have to see the potential growth or profit behind the product or service offered by the other businesses.
Keith Lennartson, Branding, Marketing And Business Development Professional:
If you consider that your message is consumed by an individual, and that individual is going to make a personal choice, it may well be to your advantage to treat them very similarly. Just because it is on behalf of a company, which may require aggregate personal choices, doesn't make for a huge difference. I voted safe, and probably wrong.
Christy Thom, Executive Director, Dogtopia:
The key to this question is reading the repeating word: marketing. It doesn’t matter if it is to a business or consumer. Solid, proven, and sound marketing principles are the same even if your approach varies. It is all about knowing the customer (whether it is a business or single human) and meeting their needs.
Scott Hoffman, Director Of Marketing, AIMS Innovation:
B2C selling typically means selling to a person or couple. The buying decision sits in a silo. With B2B, there are typically multiple decision makers and an even greater group of influencers.
Sam Dobrow, Creative Director And Marketing Advisor, Sam Dobrow Creative:
Selling is very different, but marketing has a lot of similarities. The differences are in the tactics used to support the selling process. The similarities are in the process of creating trust around your brand and demonstrating that your brand promise is truly a promise. The culture of the organization must be aligned with delivering on the brand promise--that's where many organizations fail to understand the link between sales and marketing.