B2C Or B2B? That Is So The Wrong Question.

Peter O’Neill here. Today, I was just polishing off my presentation deck for my upcoming workshop, “Achieve Revenue Acceleration Through Better Content Distribution,” at DMA 2013 this weekend and was debating whether I needed a slide that set the right expectations about B2B marketing versus B2C. This is a common discussion point with clients in my experience. Many of the documented marketing stories and best practices seem unsuitable for B2B marketers, they claim. B2C marketers respond that even business buyers are people and so the lessons they have learned apply equally to B2B. We even discuss this often within Forrester. Now, as is always the case with these interminable arguments, both parties are partly right — and they are partly wrong.

Scott Santucci and I are currently working on a Forrester report that explores this dilemma in much more detail — and suffice to say, I have selected the table below, from that report, to lead my discussion with my audience on Saturday in Chicago. As this is “research in progress,” I have annotated the graph accordingly. In fact, you now have the opportunity to give us some some feedback about this — do we use the right words? Is there something we have missed? In any case, please watch this space for the final version.

The most important difference between marketing/selling to an individual and to an entity is the natural science line: sociology versus psychology. B2B marketing is about understanding how a buyer center works as a whole. Good buyer journey research involves finding out which member has which influence at which phase — and what makes that member decide to continue on that journey. These are what we call decision triggers, and identifying them is the secret sauce for successful content marketing. What makes the buyer decide to plan a project, obtain the budget for a project, assemble a vendor shortlist, select a vendor, and stay with a vendor? If you know the answers to those questions, you will create compelling marketing content across the complete buyer journey.

Agree? Need more details? Drop me a line. As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics. Same if you want to see the slides I use in Chicago.

Always keeping you informed! Peter


BtoB / BtoC

Hi Peter,

The way we see B2B or B2C is by the nature of the products sold : usually, in B2B, frequency is low and price is high, in comparison B2C have lower price and higher frequency. As price are higher, sales cycle are longer and sales people are involved. It means therefore higher acquisition costs for BtoB.

But of course, there are numerous exceptions : Selling cars to people is high value, low frequency, with sales teams involved ; Selling office goods to companies is high frequency and low value ; ...

At the end, there is a higher probability to have high values/low frequency, sales teams, longer sales cycle in B2B and the other way round for B2C.

It why we segment our customers by the type of process they use more than to the type of entity they are selling to : 40% of our customers declare selling to B2B, but only 60% of them are using B2B like processes.

I think your classification is really useful, but will influence the way sales process are designed in "B2B type of sales", when price is high and frequency is low.

See you in Chicago


Thierry, Thanks for your

Thanks for your input. That is the point: there is not a on/off change between the two - calling it EITHER B2C OR B2B leads to that. It is more of a sliding scale and most businesses have a mix according to their target markets and product offerings. See you in Chicago on Saturday. Peter