Successful marketing strategies for B2B and B2C markets are very different. A strategic content marketing campaign is an essential part of modern marketing efforts — inbound and outbound — and the content you publish matters more now than ever before. But depending on the context — B2B or B2C — you’ll have to change the approach of your content strategy to maximize returns.
A B2B customer is driven more by the value you offer and is therefore driven by the stats you can show. If your content can present stats compellingly, you’ve already won half the battle. On the other hand, a B2C customer — driven by value, sure — is more driven by emotional triggers that only stories can easily pull. Let’s examine five main differences between B2C and B2B content marketing strategies.
1. Emotions vs. Data
If you’re targeting a B2C market, emotions play a vital role in sales, and as such, your entire content strategy needs to be designed with this in mind. This includes blog posts, the copy on your website, the tweets you send out, and every other piece of content that you publish.
Think about Apple’s marketing copy for every new product they launch. In a B2B environment, hard data wins. Companies like MailChimp or Litmus don’t try to market on emotions alone because they know that they sell to other businesses, where the primary goal is ROI. What matters in the B2B environment is the data, the numbers, and the tangible features you offer. Your marketing copy and content marketing strategy should reflect this priority in order to appeal to B2B customers.
It’s not often the case that you have to stick only to emotions or data (one or the other); you can — and should — use both. Think again about Apple or Litmus and you’ll notice that both offer a good balance of data and emotional triggers. So, it’s not that emotion trumps data or data always trumps emotion; it’s just that the ratio differs for B2B and B2C. In a B2C environment, appeal more to emotions. In a B2B environment, appeal more to concrete data that demonstrates ROI.
2. Stories vs. Fact Reporting
The best content-based campaigns in a B2C market involve strategic storytelling. This is because stories are the best platforms for emotional triggers, and are instantly relatable when written strategically.
On the other hand, for a B2B market, stories can be beneficial, but only if they are backed up with facts, numbers, graphs and other materials that boils down to ‘data’ and demonstrating ROI. In a sense, this point is a consequence of #1, but is specifically important for long-form content marketing efforts. This applies to website copy, blog posts and articles you publish as a part of your marketing efforts.
Going back to Apple for inspiration, each of their ads is a mini-story of its own. The Christmas ad was about the iPhone but woven beneath a story that tugged at your emotions. However, informative ads and promotional content are more focused on the ‘what, why, how’ of business processes.
In many ways, a B2B content strategy for is linear and focused. If your product or service caters to small businesses, you have just small businesses in mind when you generate content ideas and publish that content.
With a B2C content strategy, you’re selling to many different types of buyers even within a small niche. For instance, if you’re selling protein supplements to bodybuilders, you have many different types of personas to account for (from the pros to the newbies). You know that all of them need your supplement (or at least, you want to sell it to all of them) but content that works for the newbie doesn’t work for the pro.
That’s where content strategy for B2C varies strongly from B2B: Personas.
While B2B gives you a linear, single-stream approach to content strategy, B2C requires you to think of all types of customers you want to target. From there, you categorize them into defined classes and find the right tone, emotion, and appeal for each. Unless your B2C market is extremely niche, have to create unique content strategies focused on each of the different personas.
4. Social Media and Its Impact
In both markets (B2B and B2C), social media plays a huge role in promoting your credibility, but the way in which social impact influences sales is very different.
In the B2C market, social impact is directly proportional of the quality/demography of the social influence. For example, let’s say you have a brand built around an educational product. If you have 100,000 likes and shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., people will be more likely to trust your brand and purchase from you; it doesn’t even matter who your followers or likes are comprised of. Of course, who shared your content plays a major role in promoting your sales in the B2C market, but that metric recedes in importance when the customer finally arrives at your website or content.
With B2B, this is not the case. Your social influence / impact rarely plays a role (or plays a much less significant role) in making the sale. That’s why it’s important to tie up your content strategy with your social media impact right from the start. So, if you run a B2B business, your social media strategy should be very content-rich, and should include metrics that matter to your target market. Numbers don’t matter to the average customer in a B2C market, but they do for a business looking at what you have to offer.
5. Being a Problem-Solver vs. Being an Authority
To the B2C customer, whether you’re a large, recognizable brand or a boutique firm plays a small role. Can you solve my problem through your product/service? This question is all that really matters to your B2C target market; bonus points if you’re an industry leader.
B2B businesses are already faced with many solutions to just about every problem there is. To gain trust and, ultimately, the sale, it’s up to you to establish your trustworthiness and authority on the subject for which the customer needs a solution. So, your content marketing efforts should aim to establish your brand or your company-affiliated personal brand as a thought leader.
This is why companies value their blogs so much. “Dev” blogs run behind every popular SaaS startup you can think of. This is part of their content strategy; to appeal to B2B customers and to start selling even before the actual act of selling begins.
These are some of the major differences between B2B and B2C from a content marketing perspective. Knowing these differences will allow you to create better, higher-converting campaigns through your content marketing strategy.