Published: 15 July 2014
With B2B marketing, the relationship is between the brand and trade customers, who arguably understand the product being sold and how to purchase it. In the B2C market, in many cases this isn’t the case. A good example of this is fencing – a fencing contractor or builders’ merchant knows exactly what components they need to buy, how to calculate how much of everything to buy and how to use it. Joe Bloggs building a new fence in his garden doesn’t, so the support offered on a fencing website selling to consumers as opposed to trade needs to be comprehensive enough to avoid abandoned purchases due to lack of understanding. The shift from being a pure B2B brand to providing your products/services directly to consumers necessitates a shift in thinking and approach.
Especially within a retail sector as competitive as Home and Gardens, there is a lot of ‘competitor noise’ in the B2C market and achieving stand out amongst distracted consumers is even more challenging than cutting through in the B2B market. The mindset of consumers is different. A B2B user is more likely to proactively seek out suppliers. With consumers you are trying to cut through the noise of all the other brands in their consciousness both in and outside your own industry sector.
Bridging The Gap
Increasingly brands are recognising the added opportunity the Web, social media and mobile are offering them. An increasing number are broadening their offering to work within both sectors to broaden their customer base and increase revenue.
The table below highlights some of the main differences between the two forms of marketing and the key points which businesses must keep in mind when moving from one to the other
Logical and Emotional Purchases
’A B2B purchase is based more on logic and a B2C purchase is based more on emotion.’(marketing.about.com). One of the main issues that a lot of businesses face when they move into Business to Consumer marketing from an online perspective is the functionality of their websites. Business to business customers will often have been actively looking for your product and take the time to look around your website to ensure that your products and services are right for them; they will
then make a logical decision on whether to purchase.
When it comes to business to consumer marketing, consumers have many different choices and will quickly go elsewhere if your website is not fast, easy to use and easy to navigate. If you think about the decisions you go through when purchasing a certain product online it is likely you go for the most accessible website and will even sometimes pay a bit more for the same product elsewhere if you trust the company and know exactly where to go to get what you want. A recent retail survey found that 78% of consumers go online before shopping in- store and 88% of consumers ‘sometimes or always’ consult a review when making a purchase, and 60% were more likely to purchase from a site that has customer reviews on.
So much consumer purchasing is based on emotion. If your website isn’t up to scratch it’s more than likely that you’re going to have trouble selling to online consumers. Think of things you can add to the site to make their life easier and reduce the friction. Examples could be tools that help users such as: calculation tools for things such as fencing, curtains, flooring, wish lists, mood boards, 3D design tools or video tours. All these bridge the gap between the on and online experience of your brand. Whilst of course they have a place to play in B2B marketing they are crucial if you are moving into B2C marketing and dealing with a less knowledgeable customer that will probably need more hand holding.
Cross Platform Marketing
Mobile marketing magazine found in a recent study that ’the number of Smartphone owners has reached 72 per cent in the UK, growing by 14 per cent in the last 10 months alone’. Consumers can now access information wherever they are and they are doing it on countless different devices. Businesses that are looking at moving into B2C marketing need to make sure they are aware of this and ensure that they are making the most of cross platform marketing. Dulux, the paint company now have a free downloadable app, which lets you take a picture of a colour and the app will match it to the closest paint colour they have in store. It will then let you know where your nearest store is that you can pick it up from! Apps like this are becoming more and more popular and are proving a great way for businesses to stand out from competitors and draw customers in. A trade customer would be less likely to need this kind of add on service.
Customers want to know that your business is tailored to them. This means that if you are moving from business to business to business to consumer you may need to make your website more personalised so that consumers feel more at ease. A great example of this is Staple’s website where as soon as you enter the site a pop up box appears asking whether you are a business or a consumer. Whichever one you pick will determine the prices of the products that they have for sale as the business option prices exclude VAT. This is a great example of how business to business websites must adapt to cater for a shift to B2C selling.
In conclusion, moving from B2B to B2C has its challenges but none are insurmountable. Businesses must change and adapt their websites and social media presence if they are moving into business to consumer marketing as the consumer experience has to differ in many ways from a trade sale. What never changes is the need for a good reputation and relationships with consumers and suppliers, on and offline.