The terms B2B and B2C can be considered industry jargon and it’s something you will come across quite a lot as you do more research on marketing activities for your business. Effectively, B2B and B2C are acronyms that stand for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. Understanding these two concepts comes down to looking at the intention behind the actions that allow the customer to move through the sales process, and ultimately end up buying a product for themselves (as is the case for B2C) and when buying something on behalf of a business (as is the case for B2B).
So, B2C (or business-to-consumer) is when I am buying something for myself, like shoes or a new TV. B2B (or business-to-business) is when I am buying something that I am going to use in my business. Signing up for accounting software or buying stock are examples of B2B purchases.
Why should I care about the difference between B2B and B2C?
Now, the reason why it is important to understand the difference between these two concepts is because of how it impacts your marketing message and the sales process. Whereas a B2C purchase is generally made by one person and the time it takes to make the sale is usually much shorter, it can take anything from 6 - 18 months for a B2B purchase decision to take place. This is partly due to the fact that there are often there are up to 7 different people involved in the purchase decision, each making the decision for a different reason or deciding to make the purchase because it solves a different problem for them. A purchase decision for a business can also have a much bigger impact on the future of the business than you buying a new coffee machine could.
What’s more, there are also different emotions and motivations involved when making a B2C purchase than there are when making a B2B purchase. I always like to explain it in terms of the fact that a B2C purchase is all about how it makes the customer feel, while a B2B purchase is about how it makes the customer look. When you buy that pair of shoes it makes you feel confident or makes you feel gorgeous, whereas the senior manager who signed on for new sales management software did so because they wanted to look good to their manager. Their purchase also makes their manager look good to the board, and the board makes the company look good to the shareholders, etc.
It’s important to also understand that in both instances, the customer still moves down the stages of the sales funnel in the same way. They are still going from awareness to interest, from interest to desire, and from desire to action, they just need different kinds of information, conversations, and sales and marketing touches to move from one step in the funnel to the next. A great example would be to think about an influencer post showing off a pair of shoes and how that differs from a case study that is shared with a manager about new sales software. These two types of content (a social media post and a case study) are both suited to helping the customer move from the desire to the action stage but the reason why they take that step is different.
So, when it comes to B2B and B2C marketing, you need to have a look at who you are selling to and why they are buying from you. Use this information to adjust your messaging and content accordingly. Always think about what would help your customer take the next step from where they are in the sales funnel to where you want them to be in the sales funnel. You’ll be surprised at how understanding the intention behind the purchase decision helps you craft content and marketing messages that actually work.