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There is still a difference between B2C and B2B

Many online marketers claim that "there's no difference any more whether you're talking to consumers or corporate buyers—you're just talking to people". I'm claiming, though, that there is still a difference between B2C and B2B.

It is certainly true that all marketing should shift more towards a one-on-one style of talking to be efficient and engaging. Still, the differences between the B2C and B2B buying/selling processes have not disappeared. Some comparisons:

B2C B2B
Single decision-maker A larger group, often across functional/departmental borders
Tackle possible objections of one person Tackle possible objections of many people, including some that see the proposed purchase as a threat to their position or status, or causing more work to them or their department
When the person you talk to agrees to the purchase, you can close immediately When the person you talk to agrees to the purchase, you need him/her as your “agent” within the organisation to convince the rest of the purchasing team
May make a purchase on a whim or to follow a trend Always look at return on investment and ancillary costs (service, repairs, lifetime ownership cost etc)
Influenced by emotional arguments Influenced mainly by rational arguments
Usually has the money ready or easily available Usually needs to go through an investment proposal process before getting the funds
A single face-to-face contact may lead to purchase Purchase process is complex and usually requires several meetings, often involving groups of people from both sides
Purchase process can be automated Purchase always takes place through person-to-person contacts

Even looking at these examples, it is obvious that you will have to "talk to people" in substantially different ways if you're selling to B2B customers. The differences also play a role in why you shouldn't assume that using social media to engage B2B customers is similar to engaging B2C customers.

More on the subject in Alastair Allday's e-book Think Like a Copywriter (highly recommended).

2010-12-16

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