How to address customers – the differences between B2B and B2C (part 1)

Sometimes, addressing customers in B2B and B2C couldn’t be any more different. While B2B communication heavily depends on sales activities, addressing customers in B2C is rather a question of applying adequate marketing tactics. Knowing the differences and similarities of these communication approaches is crucial for conversion and customer loyalty.

Dear readers, when I said “heavily depends on sales activities”, that was, of course, exaggerated. However, there is some truth in it, which I will show you in the following.

B2B customer communication: changing seats

Roughly, communication with B2B customers can be summarized as follows:

  • Companies acquire predominantly regular customers with long-term contracts
  • Service and sales efforts are higher
  • The profit per customer is higher but also the risk when this customer defects
  • Target groups are more homogenous than in B2C, but there are more contact persons along the buying cycle

In order to be successful in the communication with your B2B customers, you have to master the following three marketing and communication challenges:

  1. Align the buying cycle with different personas

In B2B markets, it is very common that the first person you’re in contact with is not necessarily the one who makes the final purchase decision. Often, you communicate with someone whose job it is to inform somebody else about an offering, and that person is the one who makes the final decision. That’s why it is essential to align the buying cycle to different personas such as technical experts, CEOs and department heads and provide them content they like. Of course, you should prepare contents only for those personas who will most likely appear in the buying process .(An IT expert will probably not have a say when a company buys office furniture)

  1. Consider emotional and rational customer needs

When creating personas, identifying the wishes and needs of the customers is key. While this might be relatively easy for B2C communication, B2B buyers have to keep two things in mind: their own interest and the one of their company. Therefore, communication with each persona needs to balance out these two goals. The traditional approach often puts the company goals first. However, behind each persona, there is are real persons with their own worries and problems. If you take these as seriously as the company goals, your contact will probably be more motivated to deal with your offer.

  1. Optimize exchange of customer data

B2B is very personal, in some cases losing a sales rep can mean losing customers. Often, customers and sales or service staff know each other personally and talk about things that go beyond business issues.

Therefore, it is essential that employees don’t hide their customer insight but document and share it. This is the only way to guarantee that the customers are not treated as if they had never had contact with the company simply because a sales rep is on holiday or left the company.

In the next blog article, you will learn why B2C customers don’t always prefer one-size-fits-all communication and why a personal approach doesn’t necessarily imply extra cost.

You want to communicate with your customers in a more personal way and know what matters to them? We can help you creating buyer personas for your business.