The notion that “marketing is marketing”—whether your company is trying to sell a product business-to business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C)—is one that will more than likely leave your business falling short every time. Developing two separate marketing plans and corresponding materials for these two unique audiences is crucial to your success. Although they can be dispersed through the same methods (events, direct marketing, internet marketing, advertising, public relations, or word of mouth), what each document includes and looks like should be different. Before embarking on any campaign, set a plan in place that includes goals as to why you are creating the materials in the first place that encompass your intended message, who that message should reach, and why they need your product. By starting here, you will find your plans for B2B and B2C marketing are very different. Motivations for making a purchase, and consequences for making the wrong choice, greatly differ between these two types of audiences.
“Show me the numbers!” That’s all a business partner wants to know. Does it sell, and if so, prove it! What makes you better than the competition? Does it do what people want it to do (encouraging repeat buyers)? This is all rational, fact-based information about your products. But that’s not all. Making your product or brand an attractive option to a business wanting to sell your product also involves relationship-building. At a retailer, wholesaler, or distributor, you will most likely be assigned a buyer who is knowledgeable about your category of products. Developing a positive relationship with this representative is just as important for your success as the arsenal of marketing materials you bring with you. Gaining their trust and favor increases the odds that they will take a chance on you and your initial round of products; maintaining this relationship greatly increases the odds of them stocking your future products. Because most companies cannot maintain this type of relationship, most manufacturers will hire a team of outside sales representatives to take on this roll for them.
The logic and depth in which you present information about your products to purchasing businesses is an equally important factor in B2B marketing. Businesses want to hear about how selling your products meet their specific needs, while saving them time, money, and resources. It’s a matter of doing the work upfront to test and collect feedback from your target market as well as collect data on its sales. Proving your due diligence to promote the brand to the end consumer through such efforts as online product educating or in-store sampling will also need to be documented. In the end, your goal is showing the buyer why your product is better than the competition from a cost and performance standpoint. They aren’t interested in cute and punchy sales tactics or attractive, glossy presentations. Sure, a professional image is still important, so make sure you presentation materials are well organized, but they are looking for facts laid out plainly and simply. Bullet points are just fine, but don’t skimp on the information you provide. The following are items that are commonly included in a company’s B2B marketing kit:
- Sell Sheets: 8.5” x 11” flyers featuring full-color photos of your products; brief descriptions of the products and their uses/benefits; and a table of specifications (SKU, UPC, size, case pack, pallet count, etc.).
- Case Studies: Specific cited examples with explanations of how your company addressed questions/problems from the target market. This could include before & after photos, conversations in Q&A format, or videos of in-store demonstrations.
- White Papers: Make yourself an expert in the category in which your products fall with a well-written fact-based research document that demonstrates why your knowledge of your field. This may be on anything from an ingredient found in your products to the methodology for applying the product.
- Press Releases: For gaining editorial coverage in print and online publications, press releases are written with an edge towards newsworthiness, highlighting such changes as a product launch, event coverage, or company update and dispersed to influential members of the media.
Marketing to the consumer (B2C) means switching gears almost entirely. As opposed to B2B, with B2C, the target buyers are going to be using the product for themselves or people they care about. As opposed to the strict logic of B2B marketing, targeting the consumer means primarily appealing to their emotional needs…think tactics that encourage impulse buys. Whether it be based on novelty (a new product for them to try); ease of use (something that would make their day-to-day lives easier); or price (budget-minded), marketing to the consumer is personal.
The consumer doesn’t need to be—and in fact, prefers not to be—bogged down with loads of information. They’re busy. They don’t want to work to find the information that is relevant to them. They want you to lay it out for them clearly, so marketing material for this category should be clever, eye-catching, and to the point—clearly making your product desirable. The following are items that are commonly included in a company’s B2C marketing kit:
- Print & Web Advertisements
- TV Commercials
- YouTube Instructional Videos
What works for Both B2B and B2C
Inbound marketing—the practice of spreading the message of your brand through Internet and social media—is a growing trend that has been proven to be beneficial for both B2B and B2C marketing efforts. Businesses and consumers frequent the web to inquire about products that they are interested in, so providing enticing information about your brand or products through such outlets as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or even just your company’s website, will give you an edge. In today’s world of technology, having an online presence is a must and the broader (positive) presence you have, the better the opinion of your buyers and sellers.