B2B Marketing: Similarities and Key Differences to B2C Marketing

by | Nov 29, 2023 | Communications, Marketing

B2C and B2B marketing are similar in a variety of ways. Both are increasingly digital and data-driven. Both emphasize content, influencers, and video, as well as AR, VR and AI. Both are pursuing personalization in communications and brand experiences. And both are touting more of their brand’s efforts in the currently hot topics of sustainability and social responsibility.

However, these similarities notwithstanding, B2B marketing differs from B2C marketing in some fundamental ways, which we will explore below.

Account-Based Approach

Perhaps the most obvious divergence between B2B and B2C marketing lies in the tendency of B2B marketers to focus on accounts. B2B marketers, while targeting individuals, are thinking about those individuals and how they market and interact with those individuals, in terms of their respective organizations and their value (and potential value) to the brand. This account-based approach goes beyond marketing and includes sales, customer experience and customer success. Targeting and prioritization happens first at an organizational level and only secondarily at an individual level.

Thought Leadership

While both B2C and B2B marketers care about encouraging influencers to aid in their brand marketing efforts, B2B marketers go well beyond that and seek to establish a reputation as thought leaders in their industry through white papers, webinars, industry reports and the like. This top-of-the-funnel marketing activity provides not just brand awareness to their professional prospects but, crucially, provides prospective customers with reassurance, if not additional incentive, to consider engaging with the brand.

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Email and LinkedIn Marketing

Email marketing remains one of the most effective tools in B2B marketing for nurturing leads and keeping customers informed of industry insights, products and services as well as maintaining the relationship. LinkedIn also remains a vital platform in staying on top of prospects and customers with content, commentary on industry trends and issues, as well as professional networking.

Tradeshows, Conferences and Webinars

Finally, but certainly not least, tradeshows and conferences, while depressed during the pandemic, are reasserting themselves as important platforms for B2B marketers to make brand impressions, build relationships with prospects, reinforce relationships with existing customers and other, middle-of-the-funnel activities. Webinars provide a powerful tool for enhancing brand recognition as a thought leader and for engaging with stakeholders. Their use continues to increase among B2B marketers.

The field of marketing is constantly evolving. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the proliferation of digital marketing tools and platforms are changing much of the day-to-day, tactical activities in marketing. However, especially in B2B marketing, the one thing that remains a constant is the need for marketers to build and foster a relationship with their prospects based on value, confidence, and trust. That remains unchanged, no matter the changes in the tactical marketing tools du jour.

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Frank Schab
An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.

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