Marketing can mean vastly different things to different companies. For some the role of Marketing Manager is one of relationship building and lead nurturing, while for others, the Marketing Manager role is focussed on developing brand awareness and search engine marketing tactics. The difference is usually whether a company sells B2B or B2C.
The skills and experience necessary to be a successful marketer in the B2B and B2C sectors often vary as follows:
1. Relationships Vs Transactions
B2B is about building business relationships. Every tactic used, whether it is CRM marketing or social media has the ultimate goal of building a long-term business partnership. The skills required are underpinned by excellent interpersonal skills and a sales-focussed philosophy, as every action must contribute towards the sales funnel.
B2C on the other hand, is more focussed on transactions. The marketing strategy is focussed on the goal of selling products and increasing brand recognition. Companies may be striving for long-term customer relationships, but for the most part those relationships will not be personal. The skills required are more creative than interpersonal, developing visual branding and getting noticed.
2. Expertise Vs Value
B2B aims to convey expertise. The marketer is aiming, through tactics such as relationship management, in-person events, plus content marketing and social media, to offer expert advice and insight into their products and their industry. The skills required to do this are industry-specific knowledge and potentially experience, and a flair for communicating technical information in a compelling way.
B2C communication is more about the brand value proposition. Whether it is to save the shopper money, have the most comprehensive range of products, or to offer the ultimate in workmanship and luxury, B2C marketing is about the value a brand can bring to the customer. This requires an almost instinctive understanding of brand building and development, and the communication skills to express that brand value in simple, jargon-free terms across multimedia channels.
3. Need Vs Want
B2B marketers are dealing with a distinct market of potential customers who need the products and services of their brand. It can be to protect or grow revenues, but there is a solid business case for buying. The person managing the process will be looking to do a good job, and so the buying process will be a rational, with the solution eventually chosen to meet pre-agreed parameters. The B2B marketer’s role is to thoroughly understand client’s needs, through market or customer analysis, and to tailor marketing strategy and tactics towards a solutions-based approach. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis and presentation skills are invaluable for researching and responding to B2B markets.
B2C marketers are always in part creating a need for their products through brand development. With a single decision maker, the customer themselves, the buying process is not necessarily rational. In fact, B2C buying decisions are often based on the emotion the buyer feels towards the brand. Understanding lifestyle factors and market segmentation using multichannel data are important skills for the B2C marketer.
4. Fewer Vs More
B2B marketing is targeted to a relatively small pool of potential clients. Tactics employed might include direct marketing via email, social media or in person, but could also be indirect methods such as online PR. The value of individual sales can often be much higher than B2C, so the marketer’s focus is on building a business relationship throughout a long buying cycle. The skills required are strong communication and interpersonal skills, and a deft hand at influencing.
B2C marketing has a vast potential market, so the challenge is getting found in a crowded marketplace. This makes search marketing, including PPC and paid social, core skills for B2C. These tactics require specific, often specialist, expertise.
Of course, not all B2B or B2C marketing roles will fit between these rough-sketched boundaries or what being a B2B or B2C business means for the marketer. Equally, there are no marketing tactics that work specifically for B2B or B2C sectors, and there are always crossovers. But there are different perspectives for B2B and B2C marketing and it’s important to recognise this when recruiting for — or applying for — a B2B or B2C marketing role.