Content marketing is one of the most important elements of the inbound methodology. Content is a valuable offering that attracts, engages and delights customers along the buyer’s journey. Content is a pretty broad term, it can mean anything from blog posts, landing pages, email marketing, social media, video, podcasts or ebooks. Producing content in this way ensures you’re providing value at every touchpoint of the user experience. Your customers need to be engaged and educated about your brand, product or service to make that all-important buying decision. Appealing to the right audience is vital when creating content. Whether your target audience is B2B or B2C, it’s important to use the right content marketing techniques to achieve results.
What is B2B?
B2B refers to business to business. It concerns businesses whose primary customers are other businesses. B2B businesses market and sell their products or services to whole organisations rather than individual customers.
A HR agency is a perfect example of B2B marketing. This company offers its services to another business, such as a technology provider, to help recruit and retain employees. Another example is an office fit-out company that designs and supplies office furniture to companies looking to refresh their workspace.
What is B2C?
B2C stands for business to consumer. It refers to companies that sell their products or services to an individual buyer rather than a business. This includes the products and services that you use in your day to day life.
This could be a fashion retailer selling hiking and outdoor gear to walking enthusiasts. A personal hygiene company selling shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap to individuals. Or a mindfulness app that helps anxious individuals sleep better at night.
Can B2B and B2C overlap?
There can be significant overlap between B2B and B2C marketing depending on the type of organisation offering the product or service. For example, a furniture manufacturer might sell desks, equipment and storage to businesses looking to kit-out their new office. They might also sell their furniture to homeowners who want beds, drawers and wardrobes in their houses.
If your company targets both types of audience, you must adapt your marketing approach to B2B or B2C differently. You have to consider the differences in goals and priorities, tone of voice and channel and format before creating content targeted at your desired customers.
What are the differences between B2B and B2C content?
Goals and priorities
In the early stages of content marketing, the differences between B2B and B2C are quite obvious. For businesses targeting other businesses, the primary goal tends to be engagement. There are a lot more things that must be considered in the B2B buyer’s journey so getting that initial engagement is crucial. From that point on, engagement can be nurtured into a quality lead that eventually results in a contract.
B2C, on the other hand, is more instant than that. The goals for businesses targeting consumers is generating buzz and closing a sale. The consumer is looking for content that tells them exactly what they need and why they need it now. There’s less time involved in the buyer’s decision (depending on the level of risk involved in a product or service) as they’re looking for excitement and deals they can access straight away.
The number of parties involved in the B2B buyer’s decision is much more complex because you’re marketing to a whole business rather than an individual person. When looking at a new product or service provider, businesses have to deal with a long chain of command before making a final decision. That initial engagement is usually made by a sales manager, but the product evaluation and consideration must go through directors before reaching a consensus. This long chain, unfortunately, creates more chances for leads to drop off. That’s where your engaging content offering must come in along every touchpoint and consideration stage to keep the business on track to closing that sale.
Business to consumer only has one individual to deal with in the buyer’s journey and that’s the buyer themselves. The content offering must be direct and engaging to generate that instant excitement that drives them to learn more about the product or service. Sometimes all it takes for a consumer to buy a product is a gleaming recommendation on social media or from a friend. Consumers make decisions based on how they’re feeling at that moment. The content must immediately resonate with that emotion to close a sale in a short amount of time. If that content doesn’t strike a chord, consumers are likely to move onto another competitor who provides that instant gratification.
Tone of voice
The tone of voice used in B2B and B2C content is one of the most obvious differences because of the priorities these audiences have. The B2B tone of voice is typically much more formal and professional. Businesses have a lot to think about when choosing a product or service and it involves the success of the company as a whole. This means the content they consume has to be in-depth and expert to ensure they’re making the right decision for the future of the business. Return on investment is priority and content has to focus on communicating the benefits the product or service provides. For example, improving efficiency, saving money or saving time.
As the buyer’s journey is much longer for businesses, content must pay closer attention to addressing the pain points and challenges they face. Solutions must be provided to show exactly why this particular product or service is much better than another industry competitor. The key is stressing the unique selling points (USPs) and building ongoing relationships that turn into longer contracts and retainer clients.
The B2C tone of voice can afford to be a lot more fun. There’s much more emotion attached to the individual buyer’s journey and they want a product or service that provides satisfaction and represents the self-image. Content is much more short and snappy and addresses the consumer directly, rather than an entire business with multiple stakeholders. Consumers aren’t looking for in-depth information like businesses are. They want approachable language that’s easy to digest and understand. The focus is less about money and time and more about improving the self and having fun with the products they buy. A brand story, social media post, video or recommendation can be all the persuasion consumers need.
Channels and formats
As always, the content format must be determined by the needs of the B2B or B2C audience. Businesses want to be educated so they prefer content that provides information about how something works, why they need it, how it returns investment and how it improves the business. This long-form content works particularly well in ebooks, publications, videos, blog posts or podcasts. The more quality content created the more value provided to the audience will keep the relationship positive.
The channels businesses tend to prefer consuming content are websites via desktop, landing pages, blog posts, email campaigns and social media. For social media, you may focus your attention on LinkedIn as a lot of sales managers, directors and executives have a large network on the platform and use it to find business opportunities.
Consumers prefer emotionally charged content that’s short, snappy, digestible and visual. Content offerings tend to focus on videos, visual imagery, personalisation and reviews that give consumers the instant understanding they need. This type of content is relatively quick to consume so individuals don’t have to take a lot of time to deliberate the buying decision. It gives them information in an exciting and concise format telling them why they need and why they need it now
This type of content is perfect for social media, particularly visual channels like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Consumers tend to use their mobiles over desktop so content has to be responsive, engaging and accessible.
Whether you’re targeting B2B or B2C, content should lead the way of your marketing strategy. The principles of marketing are the same but the approach to creating and delivering that content must be different to make sure you appeal to the right audience type. B2B goals and priorities are much more complex and there’s a need for ongoing engagement to guide stakeholders along the buyer’s journey. B2C goals are typically more simple and emotionally charged. Consumers want instant gratification and to have fun with the products they’re buying.