B2B vs. B2C: Are they really so different?

The motivations behind B2B and B2C marketing are inherently opposed, but the definitions are converging – with content at their core

It’s been 100 years since the Russian Revolution, an event heralding the great global struggle between capitalism and socialism. Today’s rivalry is, naturally, more modern and, arguably, less epochal. It takes the form of the tussle between B2B and B2C marketing – and how to get them right.

But are they really so different? Suggesting that B2B and B2C marketing possess some similarities is enough to get many commentators quivering and red faced with rage. Developments over the last few years, however, mean the comparison might not be so ludicrous after all.

The received wisdom

Businesses, conventionally, are motivated by cold, hard profits. Thus business-to-business marketing requires a compelling presentation of facts to sell a product or service, employing logical arguments based on insight and financial data. B2B buyers are purchasing on behalf of businesses, and need to prove indisputably investments will be profitable.

Consumers, meanwhile, have different priorities. Business-to-consumer marketing is necessarily more instantaneous, rooted in emotional reactions and requiring big publicity pushes spread thinly to maximise brand exposure. In short, consumers are purchasing for themselves or friends and family – the quicker you can capture their imagination, the better.

The new landscape

Over the years, the clear distinction described above has faded as changes in technology and attitudes have precipitated convergence.

One example is marketers’ growing desire for insight. The need to prove ROI has combined with advances in analytics to make this thirst infinitely more quenchable. With this has come an evolution in how all marketers – B2B and B2C – approach their targeted consumers, with data measurement and conversion rates at the centre in an effort to maximise efficacy.

Some attitudes haven’t actually changed at all, but marketers have been too entangled in their own jargon to notice. The global fake news controversy illuminated the dearth of authentic content on offer and a widespread appetite for change. Businesses and consumers alike are unsure who can be trusted in these turbulent times, so establishing a niche for authenticity is more important (and more potentially fruitful) than ever – as discussed on Content Desk.

The convergence of these two strands of consumer relationships has led to a new phenomenon, described by marketers as ‘business-to-human’ relationships. This means looking beyond the data and treating human beings as human beings, whether they’re buying on behalf of a business or for themselves.

The solution? Content

The other trend coinciding with the convergence of B2B and B2C marketing techniques is the rise of content marketing, as shown by the Google Trends data comparing interest in B2C and content marketing over time.

Here is a chance to kill multiple marketing-shaped birds with a single content-shaped stone. Effective content marketing strategies recruit the best content creators – tools like Content Cloud aid this process – and follow up with cutting edge insights to build profiles of the people on the other end of marketing efforts. This is a proven and personable marketing approach, whether in the B2B or B2C arena.

Content’s other advantage is its unparalleled flexibility. It can be used to tug the heartstrings and generate quickfire purchases if necessary, or to disseminate highly technical information to specialised audiences in an appealing format.

Whatever your view on B2B-B2C convergence (or lack thereof), a content-forward approach to marketing is the best way to transcend the two. Don’t let the dichotomy get you down – content marketing, after all, is the future.

by Tom Lawrence. Contact him here.

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