Are B2B and B2C Marketing Really All That Different?

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B2C and B2B marketers each have their own set of strategies and challenges, but they also have approaches that can apply to the other's marketing tactics.


You've heard the adage 1,000 times: People don't buy from companies, they buy from people. Well, yes and no. In some cases—especially in the digital world where customers may never interact with an employee of the company they're buying from—people buy brands; in other words, they purchase not just a product or service, but also the image and need of fulfillment those brands represent. In other cases people buy from people; in the simplest terms, they buy based on rapport and trust.

These buying scenarios apply to both B2B and B2C companies. In fact, consumers' and business buyers' purchase habits continue to evolve and take on more of each other's characteristics. “Technology—in particular mobile—has resulted in most of us living integrated lives, where our work and non-work lives are intertwined throughout any given day,” says Lesley Bielby, chief strategy officer of agency DiMassimo Goldstein.

Considering this, it's more apparent than ever that B2B and B2C marketers can learn from each other's approaches to improve their marketing performance. “While the practical solutions presented by a business may be different than those presented in the consumer world, the ultimate benefits are usually the same: to save money, time, face, energy, sanity, etc.,” Bielby adds. “It's important to dig into and unearth these insights in the B2B world, as this approach has typically been reserved for the world of the ‘consumer.' Why [should B2B marketers do so]? We're no less human when we're in the corporate world. We're human 24 hours a day.”

Certainly, B2B marketers have the analytics capability needed to take that more emotional approach often reserved for B2C companies. At that same time, B2C marketers could improve, say, householding and related segmentation by taking a lesson from their B2B counterparts. What else can the two learn from each other? We asked marketers representing both sides of the industry. Here, B2B and B2C marketers lend each other advice.

-Ginger Conlon

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