B2B vs. B2C Marketing: What Are the Differences and Effects on Local Strategy?

BrandMuscle | July 27, 2021

Getting a product into consumers’ hands involves many steps, from production to manufacturing, to marketing, to selling. One crucial step is the process of identifying exactly who the business is selling to: individual consumers or other businesses. Determining whether you’re marketing B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) will influence what tools you use to advertise to your target audience and shape your strategy for reaching customers at the local level.

B2B vs. B2C Marketing

B2B marketing describes when a business promotes a product or service to another business. For example, many wholesale companies sell directly to other businesses, be they retail outlets or other intermediaries. Because they usually sell goods in bulk, they can sell their products at a lower price. Larger businesses sometimes prioritize transactions with wholesalers because wholesalers can manage high volume and demand.

What does this look like in the real world? Rather than marketing directly to consumers, insurance companies market their commercial insurance to larger businesses. Software, security solutions, and office supply businesses market their brand directly to other companies, rather than to customers at brick-and-mortar stores.

Because the audience within the B2B segment is larger corporations, B2B marketing must target the needs of people who make decisions on behalf of that larger organization—be they stakeholders, buying committees, or corporate decision makers—and focus on building relationships within those companies.

On the other hand, B2C marketing refers to the act of directly marketing goods to consumers. There is more personal agency within B2C marketing because individuals are deciding what they want to buy for their individual use, and their purchasing decisions are not shaped by and do not impact the success of a larger business.

Familiar examples of B2C companies are retail clothing stores, car dealerships, and fast-food franchises, as well as entirely online businesses like Amazon. B2C marketing focuses on advertising a product or service as relevant for a consumer’s everyday needs through catchy, enjoyable content. It also aims to advertise effective solutions to common problems in a consumer’s life.

How Is Local Marketing Different for B2B and B2C Companies?

B2B and B2C marketing affects the way companies market through channel partners, which are local businesses that help companies establish a local presence for their brand. Channel partners may be retail locations, dealers, agents, branches, or franchisees who engage directly with consumers and understand their unique needs, challenges, and lifestyles.

  • Local marketing uses buyer-specific language

While a B2C customer doesn’t need to confer with others to decide on a purchase, a B2B customer must consult with others in the company, make decisions based on financial data, and come to logical conclusions. These differences influence the language behind a marketing campaign. While B2C marketing attempts to evoke an emotional response to showcase how a company will make a consumer’s life better, B2B marketing highlights how a product or service can improve the business or drive more revenue.

  1. The point of sale is different, and so is the journey thereAnother significant difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the physical location where purchases happen. B2B products tend to have a longer, consultative sales process that takes place over many emails, phone calls, and meetings. B2C products are often sold online or through local businesses, and the customer journey is much quicker.
  2. The customer relationship variesLocal B2B marketing tends to be focused on retaining customers long-term and developing the relationship while local B2C marketing is more about achieving repeat sales. This means that B2B local marketing uses tactics that nurture relationships and increase brand loyalty, such as attentive customer service and high-quality educational content. On the other hand, a B2C customer makes purchases more frequently and therefore needs regular exposure to quick-hit ads that inspire them to make another purchase. As a result, B2C marketing often leverages tactics such as digital ads, social media, and seasonal promotions.
  3. Local brand recognition is achieved differentlySince B2C products are more relevant to everyday use, local brand awareness and reputation is important for reaching customers and achieving sales. Therefore, reviews are critical for building trust with consumers, and local B2C marketers should prioritize collecting and responding to comments on online review sites. B2B customers rely less on reviews and more on evidence that the company can help them achieve their business goals. This makes persuasive content such as case studies and testimonials a local marketing priority, since it’s crucial to the B2B sales process.
  4. Customers are reached at different times and places using different tacticsB2B companies run out-of home advertisements during business hours because that’s when and where people make business decisions. B2C companies target consumers with in-home advertising because that’s when they’re most likely to leisurely browse products online. Local advertisements should tap into an area’s cultural norms, purchasing habits, and behaviors in its messaging.

It’s important to understand the differences between B2B and B2C marketing because different marketing techniques are required to reach different audiences. At the end of the day, maintaining customer relationships is the main goal of both B2B and B2C marketing. Regardless of whether you’re selling to a large corporation or an individual buyer, your marketing strategy should strive to create loyal, repeat customers who trust your brand. For both large companies and their channel partners, the solution to increasing revenue, serving more clients, and being a top-rated business is a simple one—know your audience.

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