Are B2B and B2C Marketing Really That Different?


In the many decades I’ve been in this business, I’ve seen agencies grapple over finding some sort of precious niche.

It could be category related, such as food, apparel, etc. Or, it could be tactic related, like media buying, website development, etc.

While I don’t oppose being devoted to any one category, there’s one instance that always has, and always will, stick in my craw, and that’s the “B2B” or “B2C” niche. I think it’s total and utter nonsense.

At the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter. Whether it’s “download the report,” or “try some today,” it’s about connecting with people and getting them to take action.

“But the people are different,” they say.

All people are different,” I say.

The guy in the purchasing office has completely different motivations for buying than the guy on the research bench, yet they still fall in the B2B category. So why couldn’t an agency—at least a good one—appeal to those two diverse audiences just as well as they could to a dad buying groceries for his family? Or a backpacker looking to upgrade her gear for her next big trek?

Any agency with established chops is well-versed in digging into the most minute nuances of what makes people tick in order to connect with them. All personalities are welcomed with open arms and no single one is so elusive we can’t find them. The notion that a business audience is any more nuanced than a consumer audience is ludicrous.

“But the media they consume is different,” they say.

“The media they consume is in constant flux,” I say.

Specialization might have held more prominence when traditional media was king. But today, capturing the right audience in the right place at the right time requires way more creativity than placing a print ad in the leading industry publication.

Work-from-home has blurred the lines between personal and professional and that includes media consumption. It’s no longer B2B or B2C. It’s B2B and B2C.

Messages that impact your work decisions can (and do) infiltrate your day outside of the standard 9-5. If they don’t, I’d like to take your masterclass on boundaries. And who hasn’t needed to jot down a quick shopping or to-do list during office hours (don’t worry…we won’t tell)?

As a result, other than industry- or hobby-specific publications, all media is for all audiences. It's how you use it that matters. And if you’re getting the vibe of this post, any good agency, regardless of niche, can navigate the best usage for you so you target appropriately.

“But the way they make decisions is different,” they say.

“Is it really? Are you sure,” I ask.

Ah yes. That old chestnut. The rational versus emotional division where business marketing is focused on the hard sell while consumer marketing is softer, more brand driven.

Listen. At the end of the day, you have to 1) Stop people dead in their tracks, 2) Give them just the right amount of information they need to take the next step. How you do it is all in knowing your audience.

My guess is that there are a whole slew of business folks out there who’d be drawn in by a “pretty picture.” Some of our most successful food ingredient campaigns featured big, bold images with irresistible appetite appeal—all emotion. You had to read the fine print to get to the product.

At the same time, I bet there’s someone at the grocery store buying a particular brand of breakfast sausage based solely on its macronutrients. Bet they would respond to advertising that led with those types of features—big and bold with no fuss or muss.

Good marketers are good at knowing people. And whether it’s B2B or B2C, that’s what really matters.

If you’re looking to make a better connection to your people (aka your target audience), give us a call. Regardless of the industry you’re in, we’re sure we can help.