What can today’s B2C learn from old school B2B?

As consumers, traditional media tends to confront us with more or less generic b2c advertising. As for b2b, we are mainly exposed to it via specific industry, business or professional channels. And with increasingly niched media and sales channels a fair share of the b2b content should be reasonably relevant to you.

Two totally different realities. No wonder b2c and b2b marketers seem to misunderstand each other now and then.

B2C –– simple, fast and emotional

Effective consumer ads generate instant attention by zooming in on the targeted people’s perceived buying motives, simplifying and sharpening the message to cut through the media noise.

As for simplifying and sharpening the message, b2c advertisers and agencies have by no doubt come a long way over the past 50 years. As for understanding and exploiting the target group’s buying motives, the b2b people have gathered some rather sophisticated insights that many b2c marketers may find both relevant and rewarding.

Building stable, mutually rewarding customer relations

When consumer goods companies build brand loyalty it is often based on the creation and nurturing of a like-minded community. The actual human relationship between the consumer and the huge company behind the brand is usually very thin, especially when distributors and other intermediaries are also involved. 

Now consider the typical b2b company where the product or service bought is integrated with the buyer’s own product offering. Or when it becomes a vital part of their own production, distribution, administrative or marketing machinery. Which, in turn, implies a close, continuous, and long-term relationship.

Rolf Andersson has worked exclusively with b2b marketing since the late 1970’s: 

”Customer relations, which often evolve over 20 years or more, are based on deep business insight and mutual dependency. The customer chooses the knowledge of a supplier and partner, rather than a specific product that may be obsolete anyway, in 5 or 10 years´ time. If the b2c marketer really wants to develop more strategic customer relationships, a lot of that can be found in b2b.”

More cost-effective communications

Consumer brand marketing and advertising is traditionally associated with brute force: huge budgets spent on simplistic messages relating to one product. In contrast, online retail companies struggle with a large product range and limited marketing resources. This can easily result in rather limited and anything but creative promotion.

Integrated marketing and sales

Another frequently discussed issue is the need for closer integration between marketing and sales. In many b2c companies sales and marketing are two entirely separate processes. The sales reps works hard to get the stuff onto the store shelf, advertising gets it out of there as fast as possible. In specific retail markets, like cars and real estate, there is certainly a potential for more sophisticated integration between sales and marketing. In b2b, marketing and sales have always been more or less integrated, end-to-end.