Do you know the difference between B2C and B2B marketing? Tami and Joe talk about the key differences between the buyer journey in these industries.

Episode 6 Transcript: 

Tami: Welcome to High Energy Marketing, a podcast with us, the digital marketing agency Ajax Union, where we interview our CEO, Joe Apfelbaum on key marketing topics and we share everything you need to know to properly grow your business online. 

This is a question and answer podcast where I will ask Joe questions about different marketing topics and trends in marketing based on his book, High Energy Marketing. You can get the book and follow along with us at Ajaxunion.com/book. This is the sixth official episode of our podcast series about High Energy Marketing. 

Today, we are going to discuss the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. So that’s business to business, that’s B2B. And then B2C is business to consumer. So there are totally different ways that you market these two types of businesses. 

But first, a little housekeeping. You can find us wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher: go ahead and subscribe. And also on Apple Podcasts, if you could give us a rating if you’re enjoying this series. If you’re getting some helpful marketing tips out of it, give us a five-star rating and leave us a review. That would be amazing. 

And let’s move on to our inspiration of the day. Joe, do you want to hit us with a quick inspo minute before we get started?

Joe: Remember that you can only grow your business. As much as you grow yourself. I always tell people to think about if you’re the leader of your organization, or of your department, think about how much personal growth you have. And if you want to be able to improve your business, you have to improve yourself, which means your mindset, your thoughts, your beliefs, and your habits. 

And the more you can improve yourself, the more you have the potential to change the world around you.

Tami: I love that. that’s so very true. It’s hard to change yourself, but it’s so worth it in the end. 

So let’s jump right into today’s questions about the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. So first, Joe, tell us what is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?

Joe: Well, when it comes to B2B or B2C, they’re both businesses at the end of the day. So the main difference is who you’re targeting. So a B2B company, a business-to-business company, essentially is targeting another business. Whereas a business-to-consumer company is targeting consumers. 

So when you’re targeting a business, businesses buy differently than consumers buy things. Think about when you walk into Rite Aid and you buy a toothbrush. You’re having a different thought process than when you’re researching phone systems for your business. You’re in a completely different mindset. It’s less of an impulse buy. And it’s more of a strategic research buy.

I’ll give you some examples of businesses: a barbershop, nail salon, grocery dry cleaner, a dentist, a laundromat, chiropractor. Those are all examples of B2C companies. 

A marketing agency like ours, Ajax Union, an IT consultancy, or manufacturing company, a distribution company, a medical supply company, even a truck leasing company—are all examples of business-to-business companies. 

Now, there are many companies that are both B2B and B2C: for example, Staples. We buy office supplies at Staples sometimes, but they also sell office supplies to mothers looking for school supplies for their kids. And that’s actually a huge part of their business. 

Now, there are three major differences between a B2B business and a B2C business. And I call it the people, the value, and the time. 

When it comes to the people. Specifically, in B2B, there are many buyer centers, there are many people that have to decide on whether or not you’re going to buy that product. 

There’s the influencer, which often might be like the CEO. There’s the decision-maker, who would be the person in the role, like in marketing, it might be a marketing director in sales, it might be a VP of sales. And HR might be a VP of HR or an HR director. 

There’s the gatekeeper – might be an assistant or an office manager. They’re the ones that kind of either allow or don’t allow things to come in. There’s the user, the person that will actually be using the products and services, often the employees. There’s the buyer, maybe procurement. So there are lots of different people that you have to market to when you’re doing business to business. 

Sometimes there’s even the board, and they could be considered influencers. So understanding how to craft your message to those different buyer centers—or we call them personas—buyer personas are going to be really important as you craft your marketing. 

Whereas when you’re doing B2C marketing, when it comes to the people, it’s usually just a person walking into a store buying something. And most of the buyers are the people that take care of the house. And so thinking about that, in that way, people are the one big difference. 

The other difference is the value. B2C products and services are usually inexpensive. Think about the price of tissues. Think about the price of dry cleaning, the price of gasoline, whereas think about the price of salesforce.com software for your business or HubSpot or something. Think about how much office furniture costs compared to buying something for your house. 

So business to consumer is usually a lot less expensive. The value of what you’re buying is much smaller, typically. Now there are many exceptions to the rules, and I’ll get into that. But business to consumer is usually a smaller value. And the timeframe for buying is also smaller. 

So that’s where time comes in. So there’s people, there’s value, and there’s time when you’re buying a really expensive product. Many people have to decide. And often that means it takes quite some time for them to decide. Usually, people decide to change vendors around the budget time when they’re allocating budgets, and they’re making decisions. And many people do that towards the end of the year. 

I actually had a conversation with a prospect recently that was considering using Ajax Union and she said, “Joe, let’s talk about this in 2024 because that’s the next time we’re deciding.” 

So yeah, I mean that those are some major differences. Now, there are some similarities in certain areas, for example, people are still buying stuff. At the end of the day, people make decisions based on emotion and they back it up with logic. And that works both in B2B and B2C. And also there’s a funnel that you take people through. The first step of the funnel is the awareness step, you still need to create awareness for both consumers and buyers at B2B companies. And there are some B2C services or products that can be pretty expensive. 

Think about a house, for example. When you’re buying a house, you probably have to ask your parents to help you or your brother or your coach to support you or your husband and wife need to decide together, maybe there’s an association that needs to decide as well. So there are lots of different things that are happening when you’re buying something that’s expensive, like a house or a car or getting a mortgage, or buying expensive insurance, or maybe a large vacation or something, that stuff usually has multiple buyer centers as well in it. 

And so depending on what your business does, you still need a marketing funnel, you still need to be strategic when you’re doing marketing. If you have a low value, just a transactional business because then you just open up a store and you’re the lowest-cost provider. And as long as you’re providing good customer service, you can make a living, but we’re talking about creating a strategy that will help you be able to get the right customers for the right price and to be able to scale. And when you’re doing that there could be a huge difference between business to business marketing, and business to consumer marketing.

Tami: So I heard a lot about the different types of people in the B2B space that you have to convince to buy your product with your marketing versus when B2C, you’re marketing directly to that individual who’s probably going to be making that purchase. So who are the decision-makers in B2B marketing?

Joe: Well, the decision-maker is often not who you think. A lot of people think the CEO is a decision-maker when it comes to business to business. But often the CEO is going to let one of his or her lieutenants decide what to purchase. Like, for example, me and you, we run the company, but we might not decide what particular social media management tool we’re gonna use. We’re going to rely on our staff to decide. They’ll bring it to us, they’ll show us the different prices and the different features and will influence the decision. But ultimately, it’s going to be up to them to choose the CRM, the project management tool, and so on. 

We’re gonna allow them to make those types of decisions because they’re the ones that are really going to be responsible for the result. The decision-maker in B2B is often not who you think so you really have to think about when you’re crafting your messaging. You need to really think about who you’re talking to first. 

And that’s why it’s so important to have a strategy and figure out who’s the decision-maker, who’s the influencer? Who’s going to be the actual user, and who’s going to be the buyer and what do those people actually care about?

Once you understand what they care about, then you can craft a marketing strategy and actually go out and start marketing in ways that actually relate to them. Because these days, there’s so much noise out there, you have to be able to craft your messaging appropriately.

Tami: So that leads into this great question, how should your messaging differ between the two? If you’re doing B2B versus B2C?

Joe: When it comes to business-to-consumer marketing, you’re going to see a lot more emotional messages that people are putting out there. For example, if you’re a coach, like a health coach, for example, and you’re marketing to professionals that might need some health coaching, or you’re doing a different type of B2C coaching or a therapist, you’re going to talk a lot about the emotions that they feel and their dreams and that type of stuff. 

When it comes to business to business, if you try to do that, if you try to pull those on a CEO or a sales director, they’re gonna roll their eyes. So you have to be a little more tactical and solve problems for them and give them tips and educate them in a more tactical way. 

Whereas in B2C, people are like, “oh, I need that blow dryer, I should buy it,” when they hear “Are you sick of having a broken blow dryer? Are you sick of it turning off while you’re trying to dry your hair? Buy this blow dryer,” in the middle of the night while watching an infomercial. It’s guaranteed to work every single time no matter what you do. Don’t do that in B2B. Nobody does that in B2B; they do that in B2C. 

So the messaging is going to be based on who you’re talking to, the context, and the environment that those people are in. It’s really important to think about context. People say content is king, I believe that context is more important than content. And so your content is going to be created based on where you’re publishing the content and who you’re talking to. 

For example, if you’re on LinkedIn, your context is very different than if you’re on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. And the people that you’re speaking to, it’s going to be a completely different language. So considering that in your messaging is going to be very, very key.

Tami: And along with your messaging, you have to think about the buyer journey, right? So you have these different decision-makers, do each of them have their own journey? Just the influencer versus the decision-maker versus the purchaser, you know, do all these people have their own journey and B2B? And then do they all need their own messaging?

Joe: It depends on how they’re involved in the buying process of that particular industry. Certain industries, yes, you’re going to need messaging for influencers, decision-makers, users, and buyers. And depending on if you’re selling services or products, and how involved, each persona is going to be in the buying process, you’re going to need an Account-Based Marketing strategy that will speak to each of the different players in the field. 

See, marketing is very different from sales. And we’re going to talk about that a little in a different episode. But the idea of marketing means your need to market yourself, you need to send messages, to educate, to inspire to build trust, and who you are educating, inspiring, and building trust with the people that are involved in the buying process. 

So the journey might start with creating awareness and educating. But the way that you educate a CEO is different than the way you educate a marketing director or a sales director or an HR director, the way that you educate a CFO would be different than the way that you educate a manager or some user at the company. And so the education process and the awareness process of your products and services is going to be different based on the personas that you have. 

So, you absolutely are going to have a different buyer journey. But the main one that you’re going to want to focus on is often going to be the decision-maker, and figuring out who the decision-maker is key, and then figuring out how they buy figuring out what they need to research when you need to be in front of them. And what you need to give them in order for them to be able to make an informed decision is really important. 

Whereas in B2C, often, it’s going to be an impulse buy. A lot of the B2C clients that we’ve had, you know, selling a scooter or something like that. It’s going to be an impulse buy. And so you need to tap right into their emotions, know exactly what they’re looking for, know exactly what they’re thinking. And their journey is usually much shorter. It’s an impulse buy, they’re buying right away. And that’s really what happens. 

So the key is for you to have a strategy. Understand what steps people need to take in order for them to actually buy. And when you understand those steps, then you can craft the right messaging, then you can take them through the right journey and ultimately take them from just being a person who’s hanging around reading some of your stuff, you take him through your funnel from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom line. And ultimately, that’s the goal. The goal is to have a return on investment with marketing. And in order to do that you have to see progress in life in general, progress equals happiness in marketing, progress equals success. You want people progressing through your funnel, that’s the key.

Tami: Yes, 100% you want them moving from the top of the funnel down to the bottom of the funnel where they purchase your product or service. Thank you so much, Joe. That was amazing information. I hope everyone listening got as much out of it as we did. 

In next week’s episode, we will be talking about prospects versus leads versus qualified leads. So getting more into the sales aspect that Joe was just talking about. 

Make sure to hit that subscribe button to catch the next episode. You could follow us on Instagram @Ajaxunion.

You can follow Joe on all social media platforms @JoeApfelbaum and follow him on LinkedIn at JoeLinkedIn.com. If you didn’t catch that, check our description for all of our social media links. If you have questions, you can shoot us an email at amazing@ajaxunion.com. 

Our music is by Michael Suarez. This podcast is produced by Sarah and Shannon and edited by Sami Mititelu. Thank you so much. See you next time.

Joe Apfelbaum: LinkedIn

Tami Schlichter: LinkedIn

Ajax Union: LinkedIn