Branding for B2B vs. B2C

Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) are two forms of commercial transactions; B2B transactions are performed when products are sold to other businesses and involve product divisions, channel partners, investor relations, and distributor networks, while B2C is a process to sell products directly to consumers and is based on a volume-operated model. B2B buyers are planned and logical, while B2C consumers make decisions centered around want or desire.

To increase sales and demonstrate differentiation, you need a smart, snappy brand strategy tailored to your specific transaction process.

Consider how businesses and consumers make purchases

  • B2B customers are driven by need. When a company needs to expedite a method, solve a problem, or enhance a system, they complete calculated research to discover products and services that can help them improve their operations.
  • B2C customers can also be driven by need, but often their purchases are made based on wants or impulse. This is why museums put gift shops at the exit and why grocery stores add candy displays near the check-out. (You’ve fallen for this trick a time or two, right?)

To appeal to a B2B customer, your brand marketing should be solutions-oriented with facts and data. Branding for a B2C company, then, should have an emotional impact on the customer that elicits an instant response and motivates the customer to make a purchase or sign up for a program. Rather than a corporate strategy, B2C branding is more about product packaging and conversational marketing. (Conversational marketing is the process of having real-time conversations to help brands capture, qualify, and connect with leads through chat, direct messaging, email, or a phone call.)

Know your buyer persona

  • Whether you’re a procurement, engineering, and construction firm selling aboveground storage tanks or a technology conglomerate selling software, it’s critical to appeal to the range of stakeholders that you are pitching your product or service to, as each individual will have different criteria for making a purchase. Buying teams will evaluate your proposition on multiple levels, so it’s crucial to know how to interact with everyone involved.
  • If you’re a B2C company, though, you should focus on the individual characteristics and demographics of your potential customer, including their marital status, age, gender, household income, purchasing patterns, and spending habits.

Strategic brand management converts leads by knowing who the ideal customer is based on thorough market research and real data from existing customers.

Understanding and developing the customer relationship

  • Companies purchasing from B2B businesses want more than a solution, they want a relationship. Branding for a B2B should include proof a product or service works, long-term support, and ongoing information on updates or upgrades to a product or service.
  • Though the relationship with B2C tends to be more transactional than relational, the interaction is often short-term or a one-time-only purchase, consumers are still emotional beings with varying impulses, behaviors, and moods. To identify patterns and deviations of a customer’s mindset and intent, B2C brands should consider the digital body language of their customer base so they can treat consumers like individuals rather than data from a spreadsheet.

A full brand analysis will help you determine how to approach and appeal to your specific consumer base and their individual needs.

Determine what the sales cycle looks like

  • Since B2B companies have a longer sales funnel that involves various stakeholders and higher product and service costs, it’s critical that B2B brands build trust throughout the entire sales cycle. Being an expert in the product or service you are selling is essential.
  • B2C companies, on the other hand, have a very short sales cycle. Many online retailers offer one-click purchasing, so the cycle may only be a few seconds long. The goal, then, is to create an emotional response that triggers the customer to buy. Being able to tell your brand’s story quickly and directly is key.

Savvy brand designers know there are numerous ways to accelerate the sales cycle for B2B companies and convert more leads for B2C companies. For a B2B business, it’s important to create personalized touchpoints, use relatable language in all messaging, and nurture leads through marketing automation. In a B2C sales funnel, lead generation strategies reign supreme: cross-promote email marketing and social media marketing efforts, utilize safe language to let consumers know their contact information and credit card details are completely secure and optimize landing pages for customer intent.

Growth-hacking versus account-based marketing

  • In 2010, Sean Ellis, an entrepreneur and startup advisor, coined the phrase “growth hacking.” Growth hacking is an approach that allows brands to complete rapid tests across market channels to help propel lead generation. This strategy really only works for B2C, though, since B2B branding is more of a long-game approach. Growth hacking methods include awareness, acquisition, activation, revenue, retention, and referrals. Growth hacking tactics include data and testing, conversion rate optimization, UX improvement, automation, and behavior psychology. This strategy allows B2C companies to test multiple strategies and theories at once and make decisions quickly based on results.
  • A common branding strategy for B2C, meanwhile, is account-based marketing, which accompanies inbound and outbound marketing tactics. Account-based marketing is a targeted approach using personalized content or messaging for a specific individual. Once you’ve identified your target, you’ll want to engage with them through personalized campaigns that build relationships and ultimately lead to new opportunities.

There is definitely some overlap in brand marketing, but it’s worth noting the particular strategies that can specifically benefit the two main commercial transaction types.

Branding strategies for B2B and B2C businesses

  • Connecting with B2B customers doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep messaging direct and easy to digest, ensure you have clear brand positioning and obvious differentiation, frequently review and use data, and ensure your client is emotionally engaged.
  • Consumers today have endless options, so attracting and retaining B2C customers is imperative. Creating loyalty programs that reward customer engagement and buying behaviors, cultivating a genuine social media presence, providing an omnichannel customer experience, and offering excellent customer service are four ways B2C companies are a few ways to create a stellar brand reputation.

Whether you operate a B2B or B2C business, the customers you want to work with will heavily evaluate your brand reputation before choosing to use the services you offer or purchase the products you sell.