Ask a room full of B2B practitioners if there’s a difference between B2B and B2C marketing. You’ll get some conflicting responses. A now pretty common one is, “B2B and B2C are the same thing because, at the end of the day, we’re marketing to humans. So it’s really B2H. At TBG, we are an intellectually curious bunch with a tendency to poke holes in conventional wisdom. So let’s break it down.
While technically, yes, the algorithms haven’t completely taken over yet and while we are still marketing human to human (albeit in many cases with the help of algorithms), B2B audiences are generally much harder to reach and more marketing averse than your average consumer audiences. And once they’ve aligned themselves with a brand, it’s much more difficult to lure them away. Need data to support that notion? Sorry, not necessary. It’s common sense (and a boatload of experience). Engineers, scientists and technologists are wired differently than the general public. They research things much more thoroughly and, in most instances, the purchase cycles we are talking about are a heck of a lot longer and the stakeholders trickier for, say, an enterprise software platform or cybersecurity training services, than for almost anything you’ll find at retail.
That means that with technical audiences, it’s even more important to hit them with the right message at the right time in their consideration process. And, from a UX standpoint, you need to make it super easy for them to dive as deep as they want to into specs, speeds and feeds, as the case may be. However, and this is crucial, every communication does NOT need to tell every aspect of the story. When you’re doing it right, your product, category and brand communications all have a place. Just not the same place in the same communication at the same time. It all needs to be parsed appropriately through solid UX and media strategy.
Another common misconception is that B2B communications should be devoid of personality because the audiences are so “serious.” However, last time we checked technical folks do have families. They do watch movies. And TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” tell us even physicists like to laugh a bit. In B2B, there does tend to be a lot of sameness in messaging (i.e. Whose products aren’t more scalable, flexible and infinitely more integrated than the next guy’s?). So it could be argued that having a differentiating brand story with a unique tone and manner is even more important in B2B.
In summary, it is all B2H. But there are some very human differences.