What Is B2B Marketing & How is it Different from B2C?

Mandy Movahhed
August 11, 2015

If you have a problem, there will usually be a business that solves it for you. Between these problems and solutions, an entire economy comes to life. Of course, within this broad purview, there are businesses that sell directly to consumers, and businesses that sell to other businesses. For instance, it’s all about B2C when you go buy a car. But when an engine valve manufacturer sells valves to the company that makes automotive engines, we’re talking B2B. Let’s take a look at the marketing strategies in these two very different realms, the differences, and the considerations for wholesalers…who may have to do a bit of both.

What is B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing is a branch of marketing that’s diverged from traditional consumer marketing. Because B2B products and purchasing decisions are often more complex than those for end consumers, the approach of B2B marketing is to cater to rational buyers with a more educational, value-driven approach. Below, we outline some of the key differences between B2C and B2B marketing to make the distinction clearer.

Where B2C and B2B Marketing Differ

B2C businesses provide products and services that meet the needs, wants, indulgences, or lifestyle aspirations of end consumers. B2B businesses don’t really provide “indulgences”; they only serve needs. B2B marketing, therefore is focused on educating buyers and offering expertise.

  • In B2B sales, there’s a great deal of complexity in the sales cycle––multiple stakeholders, a long list of requirements, a long decision-making process––that’s uncommon in B2C (where customers can buy on a whim). B2B marketing, therefore, requires a greater deal of trust and value-driven messaging.
  • B2B marketing caters to buyers who are more rational and calculating. B2C marketing caters more to emotional decision-making.
  • B2B marketing demands detailed content production, education, consulting, and handholding. B2C marketing can do more with ads and buzz.
  • Fostering interpersonal relationships are more important in B2B marketing than B2C.

B2C & B2B Marketing Considerations for Wholesalers 

As a wholesaler, you’re likely concentrating mostly on selling goods to other businesses––retailers, manufacturers, etc. Perhaps you’re a wholesale brand that also sells to end-users directly (through an eCommerce portal, for example). Depending on your distribution strategy, you could end up having to do both B2C and B2B marketing, requiring your modus operandi to change with the audience you target.

1. B2B Marketing Strategy for Wholesalers

When selling to retail buyers, your strategy should be more insight-led, content-driven, and education-oriented. The long-term focus inherent in B2B relationships means relationship-building initiatives are important.  Gathering sales data, intelligence, and deep research on clients and their competitive space is an absolute requirement. In B2B marketing, lead with this market intelligence, authority, efficient sales processes, and constant nurturing of relationships across multiple touch points with your clients. Take the consultative approach to selling and closing instead of the “pitch and pray” methods. All that said, B2B sales is becoming more and more “consumerized” these days with the advent of B2B eCommerce––portals that allow B2B buyers to make purchases online 24/7. Just as B2C eCommerce sites stay in touch with consumers via email marketing campaigns and promotions, wholesalers can also treat their B2B eCommerce portals like a marketing engine. Provide promotions and access to resources like merchandising guidelines and product education videos.

2. B2C Marketing Strategy for Wholesalers

If you have some of your revenue coming in via a consumer channel, like a B2C eCommerce platform, you’ll also need some B2C marketing strategies up your sleeve. Not only that, the fact is, B2C marketing will ultimately influence your B2B marketing. B2B buyers will buy products that they think will sell. If there is demand from end consumers for your product, you’ll be more likely to make sales to retailers. Simple as that. A strong brand is what ties these two channels together. For B2C marketing: 

  • Keep ROI-based lead generation mechanisms in place: Whether you set up direct retail outlets or use eCommerce to help push sales, you’ll need ROI-based lead generation mechanisms in place, like email marketing campaigns, pay-per-click advertising, and viral marketing.
  • Invest in a solid distribution network: Whereas B2B selling involves dealing with bulk, recurring shipments to a relatively constant set of buyers, B2C has arguably greater demands, with unique logistics, shipping, and customer service requirements.
  • Be where your customers are: Your target audience when it comes to B2C marketing aren’t executives or dedicated retail buyers. Your end users are in the general public. Go where they are––reach out via social media, a robust email strategy, and more.

Marketing (be it B2B Marketing or B2C), is a constant, relentless, and rewarding endeavor that drives sales and helps your business stay on top of its game. As a wholesaler, do you only do B2B marketing? Or do you also happen to do B2C marketing? What’s your strategy like? Share a few ideas with us in the comments.