As most business owners and employees know there are major differences between how a B2B (Business to Business) organization is run compared to one with a B2C (Business to Consumer) focus. Whether it is company image, sales and promotion techniques, business ethics, or customer relationships, there are distinct aspects of each business model that need to be learned and practiced in order to be successful. This holds especially true for the content marketing strategy style and approach that your company uses.
In content marketing, B2B and B2C are two very different animals. Whether your business is entirely B2B, entirely B2C, or some combination of the two, it’s important to understand the differences between them.
To help guide your efforts, we’ll look at some of the critical differences between B2B and B2C content creation, and how the most successful companies approach content marketing.
The goal of B2B digital marketing is connecting businesses with your products and services. Purchase decisions follow a process that includes recognizing needs, identifying products to fill those needs, evaluating options, comparing vendor offers, and much more. B2B customers will spend much more time learning about your company and your products/services because they are usually looking for a working relationship compared to a one time buy for B2C consumers.
Because of the longer buying cycle, B2B marketing becomes more about selling yourself than selling your product/service. To that end, your B2B content marketing should focus on establishing your business as a trusted provider and proving your expertise in the field. Keep in mind choosing topics based on what questions your target audience is asking.
Some key elements of B2B content marketing are:
Building Brand Identity: A good content marketing campaign starts by associating your company with the products and services you offer, and the industries you serve.
Establishing Value: White papers, case studies, articles, blog posts, and other in-depth resource types provide potential customers with useful, actionable information. These aren’t about closing a sale; they’re about helping customers see you as a valuable resource and positioning yourself as a thought leader in the industry. When people are looking to make B2B decisions they want facts and data to support their decision making, therefore this should be the focus of your content marketing strategy.
Develop Trust: For decision-makers to trust you, it’s important to show them that you not only understand your products and services, but also you also understand their business and their particular needs. Developing content around the needs and interests of your client base will further show your dedication toward their business and allow them to gain trust in you.
IBM is the global leader in B2B sales. They’ve built a universally recognized brand identity that’s associated with business and technology solutions for many industries. They use a variety of channels to deliver valuable content, targeted to the industries they serve. Using research articles, case studies, and white papers, IBM shows potential customers how they’ve successfully met customer needs and are a leader in innovation.
The B2C buying cycle is shorter, impulsive, and influenced by emotions. Customers see a product they need or like, and they buy it. The goal of B2C marketing is to identify a need, and then demonstrate how your product fills it. B2C customers want to know what the product is going to do for them. When it is all said and done the product itself is the main deciding factor and other company elements can help influence the decision to buy or not.
With a shortened buying cycle, your focus needs to be on demonstrating the product’s value and how it fulfills the customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. Lengthy descriptions and detailed specifications are less important than connecting the prospect and product on an emotional level.
Some key elements of B2C content marketing are:
Brand Identification: Consumers who are exposed to a brand are more likely to have a favorable opinion of that brand. They may see the brand as having higher intrinsic quality, or it may come down to status. What matters is that they see your brand, value your brand, and want to buy your brand.
Emotional Impact: Compared to B2B content writing, B2C has a lot more demand for creating entertainment value and connecting with people’s emotions. Customers will make B2C decisions on a whim because they are related to a brand. For this reason, social media has become a major content sharing platform as individuals are more likely to engage with content and share their feelings on certain topics.
Clif Bar does a nice job of providing content that showcases their products as well as touches their customer base on an emotional level. Their website talks about their products and what sets them apart from the competition, but then it also highlights how their products have helped athletes and customers in achieving their goals. This is a strong balance of product focus and personal connection.
When it comes to B2B content marketing, it is about proving your expertise and knowledge in the field. You need to build a relationship with the customer and help them see that you’re the business they should trust for a solution. For more information on content marketing, take a look at our 4 B2B Content Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore blog post.
On the other hand, B2C content marketing is about selling an emotional connection that makes customers want to buy your products. The relationship is less about showcasing industry knowledge and more about finding common ground with potential customers.
Whether you’re B2B, B2C, or a combination of both, any content marketing strategy must start with thoughtful planning, followed by careful, consistent execution.
Now that you know the major differences between content creation best practices for both sectors it is time to get writing! Not sure how to get started? Take a look at our B2B Content Marketing Guide. It has step by step details on how to build a solid B2B content marketing strategy and how to create content efficiently.
Still stuck on what to write about? See Bob DeStefano’s post on tips for coming up with strong content ideas for your company.