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:
|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).
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