Historically marketing strategies have been born out of Business-to-Consumer, or B2C, marketing. While many of these consumer-oriented strategies are applicable and are worth recognition when selling to business customers, B2B marketing has matured into its own discipline. 


What is B2B Marketing

While B2B marketing shares the same foundations of B2C marketing, B2B’s more corporate audience requires specifically tailored techniques that reflect the business market.  

Let’s look at these market differences in depth. 

There are three main differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing.

  1. Smaller audiences: A B2C market encompasses all potential individual consumers. In general the products marketed in a B2C market are intended for personal use. A B2B market only includes other businesses. This narrows the potential customer pool significantly.

    While this makes targeting a specific audience a bit easier make no mistake there is still plenty of variation within the B2B market.

    It is still important to build something like a buyer or ideal customer profile to make sure you are designing a marketing and sales campaign that actually pertains to your ideal customer.

  2. Higher complexity: In B2B markets the decision making process can be highly complex. B2B products in general tend to have a higher value making investment a financial risk. The decision making within a company is usually a team effort.

    These teams are made up of multiple different specialists with varying needs and expertise. Instead of a single buyer looking for a good product you are likely looking to sell to a team of people looking for a multitude of benefits.

    Your sales process and marketing activities should align with your buyers decision process. This may mean researching and reaching out to each individual stakeholder in the decision making process.

    You want to develop content,  insights,  and point out benefits in your product that not only address their needs, but are most relevant to your customers interests. 

  3. Longer sales cycles: Because of the complexity of the decision making process the sales cycles of a B2B company are longer. You are working with buyers that are well informed, sophisticated and more rational.

    These buyers will ask in depth questions and take lengthy measures to ensure your product is right for their company. This also may mean extra time spent in building a connection with your buyer. Your buyer should feel that they have all the support they need to understand your product before and after the sales process.

    Tactically speaking, this means you’ll need appropriate marketing materials and sales cadences for each stage of the purchasing process. 



B2B vs B2C Marketing? 

Before we get into how your business can best go about creating an ICP, it is important to highlight how the type of business you’re in affects your overall sales and marketing approach.


As a Business-to-Business (B2B) company, you’re selling services or products to other businesses, rather than an individual consumer, the way a B2C company would. While a lot of sales and marketing advice applies equally well to both B2B and B2C companies, there are some key differences we highlight below.


Image of B2B and B2C Venn diagram


Multiple pricing options vs One price for all customers. While B2Bs often offer multiple pricing options for different levels and packages, B2Cs have the same standard pricing for all customers.


Focus on branding vs Focus on “message.” B2Bs often focus on the overall packaging and outwards appearance they present to their customers, while B2C’s are more individual focused they frequently focus on their message such as, “Nike. Just do it.”


Build personal relationships vs Build Transactional Relationships.  As B2Bs work to form relationships with other businesses, it is critical for that personal side to come out to form lasting partnerships. B2C’s are encouraging the consumer to continue buying more and more of their products, therefore a transactional relationship is important.


Market to group of decision makers vs Market directly to consumers. B2B are composed of many people and moving parts, therefore when B2Bs are marketing for their product/service it is necessary that they consider that not one but many people will need to agree on the purchasing of their product. B2C’s on the other hand are selling to an individual, therefore the marketing should focus on individual consumers rather than a team. 


Industry terminology vs Simpler language. While in standard commercials for B2C’s you see on your TV use simpler language like Frosted Flakes “They’re Great!” or Oxiclean “Oxiclean gets the tough stains out!,” B2Bs are selling specialized products to businesses that are well versed in their industries terminology, Service Now “A smarter way to workflow.” 


Start with need recognition. Both B2B’s and B2C’s start with discovering your consumers needs and goals, then tackling how your products and services can help alleviate those needs. 


Customer journey continues after purchase. B2B’s often continue to keep their customers after their initial purchase, using their products and services for long periods of time. B2C’s build relationships with their consumers, having them continually use and purchase their new products and services for years to come.


Build trust. No matter who your customers are, a big corporation or an individual, it is critical that your business build trust in your company and product for more purchases and lasting relationships with your consumers.