How Content Marketing Blurs the Line Between B2B and B2C Marketing

What’s the difference between Business to Business marketing and Business to Consumer marketing? I?d love to have a snappy punch line for the answer, but honestly, it seems like it’s not all that clear anymore. After all, for both B2B and B2C we’re still marketing to people. We still have to change behaviors and influence decisions. Plus, according to the latest B2C Content Marketing Report from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, both B2B and B2C marketers have almost universally adopted content marketing tactics (91% adoption in B2B and 86% adoption in B2C). As the data from both B2B and B2C reports suggests, content marketing may be behind these blurred lines. But to dig a little deeper, here are a few of the best standing divisions between B2B and B2C marketing, and how content marketing is tearing them down.

During one of this year?s FutureM sessions, Teicko Huber of Focus2Grow suggested the biggest difference between B2B and B2C is the consequence of a buying decision. For B2C, a poor purchase is only a problem for the consumer, but in B2B it’s a problem for the whole company and raises the stakes for anyone making a purchase decision. Because of content marketing, however, both B2B and B2C buyers now have a wealth of information at their disposal to make an informed decision. In general, both B2B and B2C marketers use an average of twelve content marketing tactics in their marketing programs. This diversity of available content means both B2B and B2C buyers can safely justify their decisions – for better or worse – by the content they?ve consumed.








Purchase Process:
Without a doubt, B2B sales cycles are longer than B2C. Navigating chains of approvals alone can take months for B2B buyers, where consumers really only have to point and click or grab and go. The reason for this difference would seem to be equivalent to the difference between a logic based decision and one made out of impulse. B2C buyers go with their gut while B2B buyers go with what they know, but content marketing is apparently changing this too. ?For B2B marketers, for example, the most trusted content marketing tactic is in-person events with a 67% trust rating. Similarly for B2C, in-person events are also the top performer at 62%. But although events do result in some information exchanges, the primary benefit of this tactic is relationship building. Clearly, logic still must work with emotion in B2B buying decisions, but by building relationships with content, B2B marketers build stronger emotional appeals thereby making room for quicker, emotion-based snap decisions.

It stands to reason that one wouldn?t appeal to an executive or high level decision maker in the same way that one would appeal to a casual consumer. But isn’t it fun when data flies in the face of conventional thinking? In fact, the top three tactics used by B2B content marketers – social media at 87%, articles on websites at 83%, and eNewsletters at 78% are nearly identical to B2C content marketing tactics –? social at 84%, articles at 84%, and eNewsletters at 78%. As you go down both usage scales, the pattern continues, suggesting – if nothing else – that content marketing tactics have very similar appeals to both B2B and B2C marketers.

So what’s the final verdict? Perhaps the principals of content marketing are universal. Perhaps there’s something more at work behind the scenes. Perhaps there really isn’t all that much of a difference between B2B and B2C content marketing – who knows? But that’s half the fun of content marketing – for all the data and information conveyed; the impact is still open to interpretation. So what do you think?

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer the power of content goes beyond industries. Curious about how you can make the most of content marketing? Contact us today!

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  1. Posted January 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Good post!

    You are correct in assuming that the tactics companies use to tell their story is neck and neck for both B2B and B2C. That’s because the principles and strategies that determine what tactics to use are fundamentally the same for ALL marketing. But the creative execution of the content is where B2B and B2C diverge. Why? Because as you suggested, B2B is RELATIONSHIP driven and B2C is PRODUCT driven. One is a marketing marathon and one is a marketing sprint.

    That means a business focused on lasting business relationships requires a different content personality and tone than a business selling consumer products.

    Ann Handley, CCO at MarketingProfs, recently share this insight on Slideshare:

    – B2C = Content worth SHARING
    – B2B = Content as a SERVICE

    Here’s the link to Ann’s Slideshare:

    Hope that helps clarify the difference between B2B and B2C content marketing.


  2. Posted January 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    B2C can be further broken down into commodities (basically all the same) and unique items/experiences. The latter tends to be relationship driven as much or than product driven.

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