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B2B vs B2C. Building marketing messages

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Мирослава Юрова

What is it and how is it served?

  • B2B is the sale of goods or services "from business to business". An example could be a company that rents coffee machines for offices.
  • B2C (business to client) is a sale to the final consumer. An example is a manufacturer of home furniture with a retail shop.
  • There is another C2B option: for example, an entertainer for a corporate party.
  • Mixed options. For example, a producer sells milk to a supermarket, which then sells it to the consumer. For efficient operation, the producer must produce milk that the consumer will like, but build business processes so that supermarkets are comfortable working with him.

Today we are talking about the two most common processes — B2B and B2C.

The client is always right

Let's start with B2C. Your client is a living person. He wakes up in the morning, minds his business, works, spends time with family. And he doesn't care about your product or how good it is. Therefore, the approaches like "our company of dynamically developing professionals has been working on the market for 20 years" and "our super-duper product" have not yielded results for a long time. The client has his own problems and needs. And your task is to show him the solution to these problems and fulfill these needs. With your product, of course.

"It's not enough to know your price — you need to be in demand."

Leshko, Common Sense

We do not sell the product, but the image

Why do you think in online stores people are more willing to buy clothes photographed on models (better in dynamics)? For the same reason why you pay more attention to the product presented in the offline store on the mannequin, rather than to the one on the hanger. Because you see the image better! A person can imagine those clothes on herself/himself (and why are these plus-size models suddenly becoming more popular?), and likes this imaginary picture.

Take, for example, home furniture. If you see a visualization or photo in the interior or a stylized mini-area in the showroom, you will be more inclined to buy.

The same applies to text submission. Compare excerpts:

"The upholstery of this sofa is made of Italian fabric with a soft pile, there is synthetic padding inside and a lasting spring block that ergonomically repeats the contours of the body."

"Just imagine sitting down as if drowning in the softness of a sofa seat. It repeats the contours of your body, adapts. You run your hand over a soft cloth… This is called rest!”

Don't sell goods — sell a sense of ownership. And sell it so that the customer does not want to part with that feeling. Take out the characteristics of the goods in a separate block. On the right. Below. In small print ;)

"Emotions motivate people to act. They make us laugh, scream and cry, exchange ideas and buy. Therefore, instead of counting statistics or providing information, we should focus on feelings.”

Jonah Bergerk “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” 

Place and time are important!

We've already figured out that the customer doesn't need you, you need him. Where to look for clients? Concerning your niche, think about where the customer tends to be and when he is in a good mood to buy.

For example, if you sell bath bombs, you should work with the client in the evening through social networks or contextual media advertising. Admit it, which one of you takes a bath mostly in the evening? And which one, risking drowning the phone, scrolls through social networks, immersed in bath`s warm embrace? Even if it's not about you (surprise me!), most of us do so. And, scrolling through the Facebook feed or reading entertaining articles on web resources, you will see high-quality advertising of bombs… And suddenly you hardly want them now! And there is also a discount, you can pay upon receival (no need to recall those cards` numbers and get out of the water), and the product will be delivered directly to your house / to the office the next day! And tomorrow you can also lie in the bath with a phone in hand, but with a great smell, foam and something else that gives the bomb. Bingo!

However, if you are selling professional literature or task scheduling software, for example, e-mail is the best tool, and the best time for it is the first half of the day.

"The winners are not the brands that first entered the market, but those that were the first to win people's consciousness."

Marty Neumeier “Zag: The №1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands                                                              

Interview your target customers, try to imagine yourself as one of them and adjust. And then analyze the statistics on advertising campaigns and edit your plans.

Allow yourself a little romance, open the curtain

People are very busy right now, the amount of information is disproportionately large and advertising calls are hitting us in the chest wherever we go (both in real and virtual sense). For the last few years, marketers have been talking about graphic content, because people don't read, and they need a picture… And now everyone is buzzing about longreads and storytelling.

And both thoughts have a logical explanation.

When there is a lot of information, only a bright picture can capture attention. And what to do when the whole information feed is full of bright images that are motley like a gypsy`s dress? Now it is easier to stand out with a black and white illustration.

Why longreads? Because people are tired. People are always tired of something. Now they are tired of a bunch of cheap content (a photo of a cat and 3 words of text about nothing), so the algorithms of social networks are changing. Interesting, useful, well-developed content is now appreciated. It is better to give one quality message than 10 incomplete ones.

Do not be afraid to tell stories about the product, tell the details of its manufacture, show the team that worked on it. Tell me honestly: if you are a person far from making pots, wouldn't you be interested in watching a dynamic and well-shot video about the path of the pan from the blast furnace to the store? It's definitely much more interesting than reading "Buy pans by ‘Pan-clay’ and everything will be okay." 

Technology is a great force

Once I heard a waiter's answer to a dissatisfied customer: "Well, do not come. Ten of them will come instead of you tomorrow." Maybe that client didn't have substantiated remarks, but even if he is wrong, it is not acceptable to do so.

What would have happened in such a situation ten years ago? The client would go home and tell the relatives about the case. In a day — to colleagues. So a dozen people would learn about it. Or 50 at most!

What can happen today? That client could be a blogger. Or one of his friends, relatives or colleagues could be. How many people can learn about this situation? You can’t even imagine.

"The most powerful marketing technique is a personal recommendation. There is nothing more catchy than one of your friends who visited the place and recommended it to you."

Jonah Bergerk “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”

The B2B segment has its own specifics. This segment is often more complex. Although, upon successful agreement signing, the benefit is usually higher and is often long-lasting. Let's take a closer look at B2B features.

Fighting with a chair

The first task when contacting a B2B client is to find a way to the person responsible for making decisions. Usually when you make a cold call or letter, you reach a secretary, office manager or HR employee. And this may not be a problem, but these workers have many current tasks. They do not often see the company's problems and needs globally and holistically. And in order to convey your message to the recipient, you need to distract from the current routine and, excuse our language, to get your ass out of the chair.

If you are lucky enough to get into a sore spot (the secretary has just been asked to find the service provider), — yay for you! If your product is good and the prices are adequate, you may stop looking further.

And if not? Do not give up! Basic contact consists of a cold letter and a call to confirm it has been received, usually a day later. Do not forget about scripts, offer a meeting, ask when to call back about the decision. If necessary, send the letter again. It is important to form a quality chain: the second letter should not repeat the first. You can associate it with sales or some holiday — make some experiments!

The big boss surrendered. Victory?

You have achieved your goal and passed your proposal to a person who will competently consider it. This is a great result. It doesn't matter if it's a letter, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. Remember: business speaks the language of money. Lyrics and big presentations will be superfluous here. Calculate for the client the benefits of your cooperation. Support these benefits with real reasoned data, provide numbers and confirmations. Time is money. And you take the working time of a person who has a lot of worries besides you.

Have you heard of the "elevator pitch"? Imagine that you have crossed paths with the right person in the elevator. That person has a lot to do, and you have about a minute to interest him or her in your proposal. Speak / write briefly and in essence.

Patience and some more patience

"The more often we meet and interact with someone, the more chances we have to become friends."

 Jack Schafer, Marvin Karlins “The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over”

One meeting is often not enough for B2B. Be prepared to provide additional information and reminders upon request. If in the long run there is a profitable contract, it is worth waiting. While in B2C model you need to constantly work with your audience, in B2B version after signing the agreement (with well-established business processes, of course), repeated contacts and negotiations will take some time. However, this does not mean that you do not have to ask questions about the state of affairs, about comments or wishes of the client, and to control the quality of your services. 

Be prepared to fulfill your obligations

While the loss of one B2C client (potential or existing) rarely has a serious impact on the business (although bloggers do not sleep, remember it), in the B2B field, everything can be much more serious. Strengthen your business reputation by complying with the stated terms and conditions. If a mistake was made — be prepared to correct it and compensate.

"The accompanying wind of marketing, advertising and branding was not strong enough to overcome the mediocre quality of these products."

Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg “How Google Works”

Business has a face

Despite all the above, people remain human at work. To competently combine B2C messages and B2B presentation is indeed an art. Imagine you sell suitcases. You want to negotiate sales with a large store. You present the product to the chief manager of the store. He or she is a human! Yes, it would be inappropriate to use emotional delivery. But you can use a beautiful image in the presentation, which suggests thoughts about the holiday, or (in a personal meeting) you can invite the interlocutor to try how easy and comfortable your suitcase is! Yes, it is a manipulation. Like all sales in general. Therefore, clear your conscience and work on both fronts!

2 in 1

There are businesses that simultaneously process B2C audience and B2B. Consider as an example a factory that sews clothes. They have their own offline showroom, online store. In addition, they have special terms of cooperation for wholesale customers.

In this case, it is very important to distinguish marketing activities aimed at these two types of audiences. Of course, you can use the same tools — email, for example — but it can not be the same letter and the same message.

If you make an online store, target it to one of the audiences. This is usually B2C. In no case should you provide two prices in the product card — for retail and wholesale buyers. If necessary, you can make a button "login for wholesalers", which (after logging in) will open a simplified and adapted for the wholesale customer version of the site.

The same pattern works in the offline store. There may be a separate office in which managers meet with wholesalers, and a separate point of delivery of large consignments of goods. It is unacceptable when a retail customer waits while managers run around the wholesale client and wrap large bundles of goods for him.

If your business needs to attract both categories of customers, divide the work with customers into two parts. Any mixing will lead to loss of income. And rarely do sales managers work well in both categories at once; the approach is still different.

"There are no ideal managers, as well as partners, parents, children. Nothing is perfect in this world."

Ichak Adizes “The Ideal Executive”


If you are selling a product, not a service, and you have the opportunity to make physical contact with the customer, do not forget about tactile impressions. If possible, take some samples at the meeting and hand them to the client. Make sure these samples are pleasant to touch. If a person is handed something, he instinctively takes it.

Do you sew clothes? Take fabric samples to a meeting with a store representative. Do you sell watches? Invite the customer to try them on. People often do not consciously perceive the impression of tactile contact. Therefore, if an impression is positive, it can often increase the desire to accept the offer.

That is why experienced people always shake hands at business meetings. And their hands are not sweaty and not cold — they`re comfortably warm and dry. The skin is tender and smooth, well-groomed. And the pressure of a handshake is moderately strong, with a hint of dominance, but friendly. Although… this is a completely different matter to discuss.