The difference between marketing B2C and B2B


What are the major differences in how to approach a B2C offering and a B2B offering? What I am looking for is the must-haves for each and the must-nots for each.

Edit: We market a SaaS service primarily to SMB. In many cases, the S is so small it is a single person. Marketing to a single person business could look a lot like B2C. So the question is, how is it different? What must we do different from the B2C world in our marketing?

Marketing B2B B2C

asked May 10 '11 at 10:33
Kenneth Vogt
2,917 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Care to share why you down vote this? – Kenneth Vogt 12 years ago
  • While I am not the one who down voted this question, there is not enough information in your question to answer it. The only information you supplied is that you are selling to either a business or a consumer. All potential answers depend on **what** you are selling. – Gary E 12 years ago
  • Not only did I down vote it, I also voted to close it. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Thank you so much for the question Kenneth. Your active engagement in the site is awesome! Entire books have been written about this subject, so it is very difficult without more specificity to provide any meaningful answer. By re-asking this question with industry, product, and customer information -- individuals with specific experience marketing in those areas will be able to provide very specific information about a must-have or a must-not. As you can see from my answers on here I love to talk about B2B marketing and I promise I wont let your new question pass without comment! – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • Ok @Joseph Barisonzi, I amended the question. Does that give you enough to run with? – Kenneth Vogt 12 years ago
  • Very good. It does, it really does. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago

1 Answer


This is actually a very interesting question.

Conventional wisdom says that when you communicate B2B you sell what problem it solves where as when you sell B2C you sell what need it satisfies.

Now you could say that solving a problem and satisfying a need is the same thing and I would agree.

But the reason why it makes sense to use this distinction is that it will provide two very different mindsets when you communicate it.

Where you to sell a computer in 1984 the difference would be pretty clear.

Business2Business Business2Consumer But something have changed over the last decade or so.

Not for big corporations as they are still tied into enterprise software but for those who decide to build their own companies.

There have never been so many people who are building small business on their own, whether it's design shop, programming shop, javaScript engine, project management tool etc.

To communicate to them you need to think a little bit different. They still have a consumers mindset even though they have business needs.

To them they care as much about the needs it satisfies as the problems it solves. It's not enough to compete on what problems it solves but also on how it solves them. Aesthetics matter to this group and so on.

So today you find yourself in a situation where you have two types of B2B

First group is the one who still will by the 1984 commercials.

Second group needs something different. To them you can market your product without any reference enterprise. In fact it's often seen as a negative because enterprise often means very complex software.

Marketing to B2C is also quite different than it used to. It's no longer possible to maintain a brand image purely through advertising and marketing. If your product is faulty, bad or if you are a bastard people will find out. So the best way to market your product is trough other people.

And of course to make something that people either want or something that takes advantage of network effects. I would argue that you should focus all your energy into making a product or service that people want rather than worrying about marketing.

Marketing in the B2C market have become about optimizing sales not about establishing your product on the market.

Hmm don't know if this is helpful.

What I am fundamentally trying to say is that there is obviously a big difference between B2B and B2C like those 1984 commercials show and there is obviously still a big need for that kind of distinction.

But given the trend of more and more smaller and smaller companies who start-up to fill out all sorts of niches how you market become increasingly similar.

answered May 12 '11 at 18:21
Thom Pete
1,296 points
  • yes this is helpful and +1 for that. So to boil this down, we have "solve a problem" vs. "satisfy a need". You argue that the product or service itself should satisfy a need and thus the effort should be put there rather than marketing. I like your reasoning but I will challenge that final conclusion. I think it comes down to which of those to communicate, not which of those to do. You had better be doing them both after all. That being said, you make a good case for satisfying a need for the smallest of customers. Would you still go with solve a problem for the more typical SMB? – Kenneth Vogt 12 years ago

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