Businesses vs. Consumers as Core Clients

You’re taking the initial step to getting to know your customers. Great! The first part of the Visibility process in the VAIRCG method is knowing whether you are a B2B or B2C company. When it comes down to your clients, who are you seeking – businesses or consumers? Although the methodology and process of approaching, nurturing, and satisfying B2B and B2C clients are dangerously similar, there are notable differences to keep in mind.

 

B2B (BUSINESS)

B2C (CONSUMER)

Decision-Making Process & Buying Cycle

  • Generally longer and requires more time to cultivate relationships
  • Expect multiple phone calls, presentations, meetings, etc.
  • Cater to long-term business goals
  • Generally shorter and focuses on impulse buys
  • Purchases are usually made to address immediate needs

Stakeholders

  • More decision makers (think executives and chiefs)
  • Tailor to every stakeholder – or as many as you can – to garner their approval

 

  • 1 or 2 (possibly more); refers specifically to the buyer
  • Influencers can be parents, friends, spouses, colleagues, etc.

Relationship Timeframe

  • Usually longer relationships to increase reliability of the product or service, and decrease the hassle of finding new vendors to restock or resubscribe

 

  • Shorter timeline (although we advocate for a long relationship) – 1 transaction or limited services
  • Relationships should always be ongoing, but the level of engagement may be different in the buying cycle

Pool of Leads

  • Smaller lead pool and much more defined because there are less businesses than there are people
  • Leading businesses (top % within the industry) make up most of the ideal B2B clients

 

  • Targeted for a specific market, vertical, or niche, making it a smaller “pool” (as opposed to a large net of available consumers)
  • Larger than B2B leads, which are specific companies and businesses

Product Knowledge & Education

  • More technical and demands more in-depth overview of features and specifications
  • Provide constant technical updates and ongoing support.

 

  • Outlines why certain products are better than others, and how it benefits the buyer directly
  • Not necessary to give a comprehensive overview of the product/service
  • Describe only the basics to solve the buyer’s problem

Language & Personality

  • Use industry relevant keywords and technical vocabulary to illustrate expertise and authority over your subject
  • Present a leadership voice that exercises your ability to provoke

 

  • Simpler language, more colloquial and approachable
  • Adopt the cultural mannerisms of language in the consumer’s daily conversation
  • Fun” and personable – think of a “grandma voice

 

Content

  • Highly detailed, lengthy, and organized
  • Include lots of information that adds to their expertise and knowledge
  • Let them leave feeling smarter than they came in

 

  • Useful to their needs, but also humorous, shareable and short
  • Incorporate trending and less formal material
  • Favor the usage of imagery, metaphors, similes, anecdotes, and other entertaining writing approaches

 

Goals to Drive Purchase

  • Efficiency, expertise, speed, performance, quality
  • Align to their business goals
  • Decisions are made from a logical thought process

 

  • Anything beneficial to their personal cause and beliefs
  • Deals, discounts, promotions, bargains
  • Entertainment value is higher and often warrants an emotional response

Buyer Behavior

  • Task-oriented, business goal-oriented, less emotional
  • Focuses mainly on product attributes and specifications (economy in cost and use, productivity, quality)
  • Wants to benefit their bottom line (attracted to evidence-based pitches, content marketing, and follow-up)

 

  • More easily influenced by marketing and advertising techniques
  • Looser product specification required, which allows flexibility in purchase options
  • Evaluation comes from brand recognition and approval
  • Buying decisions affected by peers

Buyer-Customer Relationship

  • More personal one-on-one negotiation, feedback, and conversation
  • Talking mostly to stakeholders, influencers, and decision-makers

 

  • Addressed via mass media and retailers
  • Flow of relationship is based mostly on customer satisfaction and treatment

Customer Interaction

  • Through meetings, phone calls, presentations, private & public events, offline events

 

  • Mainly uses digital and non-traditional (online) methods of communication
  • Advertisements, promotions, transactions, social media, etc.

 

Communication

  • Direct and shorter channels
  • Often has a smaller budget for advertising (tradeshows, banner advertising, paid search)

 

  • At times, long-winded paths to converse with a targeted group of people
  • Requires bigger budgets for advertising (i.e. inbound and outbound marketing, PPC, digital advertising, email marketing)

 

Price Points

  • Dependent on business size:
    • Small: less than $1 million
    • Medium: $1 – 10 million
    • Large: $10 million +
  • As long as the features and benefits are optimal for their needs, a few thousand dollars won’t be a heavy hit

 

  • Dependent on product category, features, and competitor prices
  • Consumers may make big purchases, but not in high quantities
  • Often not associated with bulk orders

 

The list isn’t exhaustive, but gives you a good idea of some of the major differences. You might be wondering: “well, what’s the same?”

 

Similarities of B2B and B2C clients

  • They both need an engagement model. Answer their needs, solve their problems, and address their pain points.
  • They both need to align with your business goals. After devoting time to the customer, be sure the interaction lines up with your own goals.
  • They both need your understanding of their buying process. The customer buying cycle may be different, but knowing the stages will help you help them.
  • They both need to match with market prices. Make sure to position your business with consistent prices relative to the market.
  • They both need amazing customer service and communication. Customer satisfaction is the key to bringing in more business.

 

More Tips on B2B

There is so much content about B2C tactics and strategies, but not much love for the B2B environment. So here are some additional details gathered from Harvard Business Review’s study on “What B2B Customers Really Expect.”

 

1. Their highest ranked expectations are subject matter and solution expertise.

2. They believe that improvement is needed in salespeople’s knowledge on the customer’s business and industry.

3. Their last priority is social and communication skills.

 

In another study, HBR also cites from Gartner that the most influential B2B marketing activities are:

  1. Direct interactions with the provider
  2. References (i.e. reviews, testimonials)
  3. Events (in-person & virtual)

Channels like social media and advertising decreased the likelihood of purchase.

 

Be sure to understand exactly how your business satisfies the needs for the customers you’re seeking and their background.

Next up: Building Your Buyer Personas.

 


 

This is a blog series outlining the details of the 6 principles of Engagement Marketing: VAIRCG.