B2B Marketing

I am frequently asked if business-to-business marketing really different to consumer marketing?  The term "marketing" is usually viewed from the perspective of consumer packaged goods and advertising campaigns but the cumulative value of business-to-business (B2B) sales is actually much bigger than consumer side of the business.  The following table summarises some of the more important differences between these two branches of marketing:

 Business to Business Marketing

 Consumer Marketing

  • Relationship driven
  • Maximise the value of the relationship
  • Small, focused target market
  • Multi-step buying process
  • Brand identity by personal relationship
  • Awareness building activities
  • Rational decision based on value
  • Product driven
  • Maximise the value of the transaction
  • Large target market
  • Single step buying process
  • Brand identity through imagery
  • Point of purchase activities
  • Emotional buying decision


It would follow that a somewhat different approach is required to B2B marketing. Firstly, the business buyer actually wants to buy.  Most consumer advertising offers people products they might enjoy but do not really need and so business-to-business marketers address a much smaller number of customers.  The business buyer will read a lot of marketing material and is an information- seeker.  He is constantly on the lookout for information and advice that can help do the job better or increase profits.

So we can conclude that business-to-business marketing is a multistep process.  In consumer marketing the seller will aim to produce an advertising package that does most of the selling job for the product.  This will be made up of TV advertising, print media and may include a free sampling programme.  The consumer is influenced by the advertising process and makes the purchase.

The consequences of this for marketing is that business-to-business firms often have relatively high costs in terms of employees, that is sales and technical support and a more modest expenditure on other forms of promotion.  Advertising budgets for business marketers are usually measured in thousands of euros rather than in millions.

How then should the B2B marketer approach her market?  Essentially, small customer numbers, complex decision making units and complex products place the emphasis of business-to-business marketing onto better targeting of prospective purchasers and personal relationships.  Consumer marketers face the challenge of communicating with a much wider customer base and ensuring that their products or services are in perfect condition at the point of sale.


Contact me: paul"at"paulsudnik"dot"com