by Warren Moss (@warrenmoss) As advertising practitioners, we throw terms such as B2B and B2C around daily. It makes sense to us, and the difference in the two is core to how we approach marketing communications. But how do we explain to clients what they need when they don’t understand the fundamental difference and nuances between the two approaches?

So let’s start there.

The difference between filling your business-sales funnel or leaving it empty lies in understanding the complexity and risk of the B2B buying decision

Linear, low risk

B2C purchases are usually linear and the risk is low. These buying decisions are as simple as selecting washing powder from the shelf and paying for it. In the event you buy the one less preferred by the family, the disappointment and consequences are short-lived. The washing powder is either used up quickly or replaced and never thought of again. You may go as far as to say that even a more-significant consumer purchase — and certainly more costly, such as buying a car — is also a linear one with low risk. A bad buy will certainly be frustrating for the buyer but, in the bigger scheme of things, no one else is affected by the decision

The B2B purchase scenario is completely different. The buying decision in a B2B environment is a more complex and lengthy process, with far more risk associated.

A supplier contract may only require one official buyer but queueing up that final signature is far more complex than deciding upon what washing powder to buy for the house. With various stakeholders and role players to account for and to account to, in the B2B environment, the complexity lies in finding stakeholder consensus. A bad purchase in this case has far-reaching implications for the entire company. A mistake in a business-purchase environment is also far costlier. Onboarding the wrong bank or supplier to your business is far more difficult to unravel and manage than the wrong detergent.

So first establish the difference.

Key objective

The key objective of any B2B marketing campaign to existing or new customers is demand-generation. The job at hand is to pack the funnel full with leads. And we use classic above-the-line tactics such as TV, radio, outdoor and print to a host of classic B2B methods, from digital to sponsorships and events, to generate those leads.

Comprising different phases, from consideration to evaluation and purchase, the funnel narrows as the consumer continues with the buying process.

But how do you move people from the top to the bottom of the funnel? Enter marketing automation, consumer evaluation and lead scores (certainly a topic for a whole other column) and suddenly you have the ability to track customers through a score, and ascertain just how much muscle you need to move them further and further down the funnel until purchase time.

Things such as meetings with top salespeople, engaging demos, smart activations and targeted content are designed to push those leads even further. And here’s the reality: top B2B agencies understand all about that funnel and its phases. They exist to create a demand that is completely different to the B2C demand. They understand how to create strategies that play to that B2B buy.


Warren MossWarren Moss (@warrenmoss) is founder of Demographica, a full-service B2B and niche-market agency. He is also the chairman of the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards (Assegais).

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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