B2B & B2C marketers are similar in some ways yet completely different in many. We have analyzed hundreds of brands in both industries and have found there are things one learn from the other. Check out our top 5 with some bonus podcasts that provide more detail.
Your specific industry isn't as unique as you think
One of the many questions we hear regularly is, "Don't you have to build out custom rules to evaluate content within specific industry markets (Auto versus Pharma)?" The short answer is, no...for the most part, we don't. Marketing approaches across across industry markets, believe it or not, are far more similar than they are different. We can pick up the use of "Authority" for IT security provider in much the same way we can for a lawn equipment manufacturer. Sure there are differences in feature references per industry, but for the most part our frameworks are completely transferable.
What is more interesting to me is not contrast between industry markets, but differences we see in B2B versus B2C marketers.
B2B marketers can learn empathy from B2C marketers
There are various we ways we measure customer centricity and empathy in content. We measure how marketers reflect the customer's state of mind, positioning directly to the customer, portraying attributes that are like the customer, what the customer aspires to and painting a vision of a better life for the customer. B2C marketers across the board are better in these areas than B2B. My guess is this is based on the use of brand agencies who have a evolved a competency around customer centricity.
B2B marketers are far more focused on the selling process; generate leads and closing deals. B2B industries almost always have white space in reflecting emotional factors/value points for the buyer. We are starting to see a bit of a shift in B2B around marketing to the person doing the purchasing and not the company. But, B2B marketers have a long way to go in reflecting empathy.
B2C marketers can learn rational positioning from B2B marketers
As you might expect, B2B marketers are very adept at communicating the economic value of their offering. When B2C marketers do this, it almost always based on a price differentiator (we're the cheapest!). B2C marketers in general can do a better job of communicating the economic value their offering delivers. There is so much focus on the empathic nature of the customer, that B2C brands seem to ignore the rational part of the buying process. The household, for all of it's emotionally based elements, is also a business of sorts. While the household is not necessarily selling anything, it definitely has an inherent balance sheet. Customer buying decisions impact the profit and loss statement of that household. We all know price is a hugely important factor, but VALUE is often overlooked by B2C marketers.
Commitment to social good gaining traction in B2B, but better in B2C
Social responsibility certainly seems to be on the rise for companies large and small. On the whole, we probably see more communication surrounding social causes. While its not as consistent as we would all probably like to see across the board, B2C companies that do position a commitment to social good seems to do it more as a core value. We have been seeing more of an uptick within B2B companies, but this mostly remains a huge opportunity for B2B marketers.
Less brand, more customer
A common problem we see in both industries is far too much focus on promoting the brand and not enough focus on the customer. The customer is the hero of the brand story. Communication and positioning of brand and offering is rampant in both B2B and B2C. The interesting thing is most brands within a industry in either B2C or B2B usually mimic each other. It's less common that we see one brand in an industry with a great customer focus and the rest with a brand focus. The opportunity to differentiate, whether you are B2B or B2C, probably exists just by being more customer centric.
Trigger events matter in B2B as much as they do in B2C
Trigger events are communicating potential or impending events of which your buyer needs to be aware, There are some industries within B2C that make good use of trigger event communication including; Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare/Pharma. There are many in both B2C and B2B that could do a better job of communicating a reason to act. This by far is the most effective, yet under utilized storytelling element in all of our frameworks. Every single company's offering has a built-in reason to buy. If you don't, that's a different problem and a big problem at that. Most B2B brands and some B2C ignore positioning the events and instilling the urgency to act.