Want to make your B2B marketing more effective? First thing’s first: get to know your audience. Because to find, connect with, and motivate a potential customer—whether it’s a B2B or B2C customer—you need to understand what makes him or her tick. So what then are the main characteristics of a B2B audience, and how do they compare to B2C? Let’s take a look.
B2B audiences are more specialized. While consumer marketing might target a wide swath of people—such as an entire gender, or those with particular habits and interests (i.e. beer drinkers), a B2B audience is usually much more specific. You’re marketing a very particular thing to a very particular group of people. And so the more you understand your audience’s business, needs, and goals, the better you can focus your message in a highly specific, effective way.
B2B audiences make larger purchases. B2B purchases tend to be significantly larger (a $400,000 MRI machine versus a $400 laptop, for example) and decisions often involve a team of people instead of one. It also means the sales cycle is usually a lot longer. So while a regular consumer might buy something after thinking about it for a few days or weeks, B2B purchases might take several months or longer. To stay top of mind, B2B marketers need to adopt a long-term perspective in their communications and consider where the prospect might be in the sales cycle.
B2B audiences are savvy. B2B audiences are smart and sophisticated when it comes to their business and industry. They see through exaggerated claims and false information. So you’ve got to choose your words carefully and work harder to establish trust and rapport. This doesn’t mean B2C audiences aren’t also smart. But when you’re marketing something as simple as pizza or shampoo, you can just get away with more. Building trust in the B2B realm is about establishing credibility by providing information the prospect needs.
B2B audiences have more at stake. While a consumer looks at a product or service and asks, “What’s in it for me?” the businessperson asks, “What’s in it for the company?” Which tends to make B2B purchase decisions a lot more complex and layered. Some large business purchases can impact hundreds or even thousands of people. They can cost (or save) a company millions of dollars. They can affect long-term sales and profits, positive or negative. With so much on the line, purchases often require extensive research, planning, budget discussions, internal politics and layered decision-making—steps that B2B marketers need to keep in mind.
B2B audiences want to build relationships. Because their purchases are more expensive and more critical, B2B customers like to buy from reputable companies they know and trust. To them, it’s more than just making a purchase; it’s about investing in a smart, reliable business partner. With B2C, especially with smaller ticket purchases, not so much. With purchases tending to be cheaper and less significant, there’s less need to invest in the relationship. B2B customers, however, want more. They want to know how a product or service will address their unique business issues. They may require a consultation, advice, or answers to very specific questions. Which means a need for personal attention. To make a more informed and confident decision, a customer might follow a marketer’s blog, receive newsletters, talk to sales reps, and trade emails with the company. In short, B2B audiences have a long-term relationship mindset.
So there you have it. When it comes to marketing, having a clear sense for what your audience is like, what their needs are, and what their mindset is will give you a huge leg up. So be sure to keep these key five characteristics in mind. They’ll help you better focus your message and market to your B2B customers much more effectively.