What makes B2B marketing different?

Is business-to-business marketing really that different from business-to-consumer marketing?  As business-to-business market research specialists, managing hundreds of b2b projects every year, we certainly think so.

Our latest white paper, ‘Why is business-to-business marketing special?’, recognises the many differences between the business and consumer disciplines, highlighting the implications of these differences when it comes to implementing a business-to-business marketing strategy.

B2b marketing is about meeting the needs of other businesses, though ultimately the demand for the products made by these businesses is likely to be driven by consumers.  When acting as consumers, we are often less well-informed, less accountable to others and far more susceptible to whims, indulgences, recklessness and showing off than is the case when we are in the workplace.  We therefore have a tendency to make purchasing decisions that a rational observer (a business-to-business buyer that has to make a profit each month) would regard as ludicrous.  As consumers we are far less likely to ask whether the product we are buying has an ROI.  We buy what we want, not what we need.  Not so in b2b.

B2b marketing is actually more unique than most people realise; our white paper highlights ten key factors that make b2b markets special and different from consumer markets.  To summarise:

  1. b2b markets have a more complex decision making unit
  2. b2b buyers are more rational
  3. b2b products are often more complex
  4. there are a limited number of buying units in b2b markets
  5. b2b markets have fewer behavioural and needs-based segments
  6. personal relationships are more important in b2b markets
  7. b2b buyers are longer-term buyers
  8. b2b markets drive innovation less than consumer markets
  9. consumer markets rely far more on packaging
  10. sub-brands are less effective in b2b markets

The full white paper, which expands on each of the above points and highlights their implications for the business-to-business marketer, can be accessed here.

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