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17 Reasons B2B Marketing Is VERY Different

Every other day, I see yet another article or blog post suggesting that there are no longer many differences between B2B and B2C marketing.

Of course, I can’t help but notice that most of these treatises are penned by marketing services providers, rather than B2B practitioners. And as a marketer myself…and lifelong cynic…I can’t help but recognize how blurring the lines between B2B and B2C might make it a bit easier to sell B2B clients on the entertaining and unaccountable fluff that seems to be so pervasive in B2C.

Some of the arguments being used have just enough truth in them to make some intuitive sense. For example, my favorite piece of Bravo Sierra is, “Business buyers are consumers, too.” As a statement, it’s absolutely true and seems intuitive. But the implication…that the buying processes are the same in both contexts…is absolutely false.

The reality is that no matter how desperately some may want it to be like marketing to consumers, effective marketing to businesses is very different, because:

  1. Salespeople are usually involved in the transaction.
  2. Buying decisions are often made by multiple people.
  3. In most B2B markets, overall demand is inelastic.
  4. Most B2B markets have a limited number of buyers.
  5. In B2B, customer retention is an existential issue.
  6. Personal relationships are more important in B2B.
  7. B2B sourcing decisions tend to be more considered.
  8. Business solutions are often much more complex.
  9. B2B buying decisions are more “rational” by design.
  10. Sales cycles and selection processes are much longer.
  11. B2B pricing is often negotiated on a deal by deal basis.
  12. Purchasing processes are more complicated in B2B.
  13. The competition in B2B is not nearly as transparent.
  14. Business communication preferences are different.
  15. B2B buyers focus on financial/practical benefits.
  16. Companies are much more resistant to change.
  17. B2B buyers have much greater domain knowledge.

Now, these 17 reasons are just off the top of my head. I’m sure you could add many more. After all, if you’re reading this, odds are you already know that B2B marketing is a unique challenge. Odds are it’s a challenge you’re stepping-up to each and every day.

And in an industry full of people who clearly prefer to ignore the realities rather than push through them, that simple fact makes you a very unique individual. Because B2B marketing isn’t just different; it’s a whole lot harder, too!

Hmmm…I guess that makes 18 reasons 🙂


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