B2B vs. B2C Marketing: It’s the Same Thing People!

by Marcus Sheridan

This whole concept of B2B vs. B2C is driving me nuts. Heck, even after having owned my own business for 10 years, I never even heard the dumb acronyms until I started reading marketing blogs about 2 years ago..and quickly realized either I’d been in the dark for a long time or there was a group of folks out there who were apparently suffering from a serious case of The Curse of Knowledge. Over time, I’ve clearly learned it was the latter…

b2b vs b2c marketing

(Side note: Go ask your local plumber or electrician or auto mechanic if his/her business is a B2B or B2C (Business to Business/Business to Consumer btw for those still unaware). The odd looks you’ll get with such a question might seriously amuse you. ;-) )

The Rules of great Content Don’t Change

You see, I talk about sales and marketing. I write about it. I speak about it. And it always seems there is someone out there listening who has the audacity to think because they’re a ‘B2B’ or ‘B2C’ the rules and principles don’t apply to them.

Sure…whatever.

P2P is the Future

In fact, I’m here to say we need to throw out this whole B2B/B2C phraseology from our modern day vernacular. Let’s change it instead to P2P. That’s right, people to people, because all of us, no matter how ‘special’ we think our industry or niche is, are a P2P company.

And when it comes to proper content marketing, the rules do not deviate when it comes to people. The customer has questions. The content marketer (if they know what the heck they’re doing), has answers. It’s a simple process, so let’s stop making it out to be some deep science, because it’s not.

Let me give you a personal example from my swimming pool company. In the fiberglass pool industry, there are fiberglass shell manufacturers, and then there are builders (the guys that install the pool in your back yard). The manufacturers would be considered B2B. The builders would be considered B2C. But here is the thing– There’s not a wit of difference in the way a pool manufacturer or pool builder should be producing content.

The same questions a pool builder might have about  a fiberglass shell are the same questions an end-user would have about said shell. Whether it’s the manufacturing process, the features, etc– it’s all info of potential worth to a business/consumer.

Over the last 3 years, my company’s blog has had a major, major impact on fiberglass pool brands throughout the country because of our content. It has also had a serious impact on the fiberglass pool industry in general from an end-user educational standpoint. (In other words, it rocked both B2B and B2C boats) But if I had to go back, as a pool manufacturer instead of a builder, I’d go about it the exact same way, simply by asking myself the singular question that everyone company, no matter their silly self-imposed acronym, should consider:

What are the questions customers ask about my product?

The minute a company shifts their every focus to just that, and takes the time to answer every single question…then said company’s brand will explode and become one of the key voices to their industry– B2B, B2C, OPP, XYZ,  whatever.

Great content has eliminated the divide between B2B and B2C.

Good information is good information.

People are people.

So quit worrying about the letters in your business’ ‘classification’ and start writing about stuff people actually care about. Become a ‘teacher of men’. Give liberally. By so doing,  I can assure you that P2P will be the only self-imposed acronym you’ll ever call yourself again.

***The following video is a little snippet from an interview I gave at Content Marketing World last week. It’s only about 2 minutes, but it hits on the principle of P2P (or what customers really want). The rest of my entire CMW session will be available as soon as the great folks of CMI are able to release the footage.

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Your Turn:
OK, although this article was short, I expect most will have an opinion on this simple question: Do  you feel there is a difference in marketing a B2B vs a B2C company? If so, what is it? If not, then why the heck do we keep using the dang acronyms? As always, I’d love to hear your opinions, and if you disagree, well then speak up!! :-)

PS***: I’m speaking to a company in Michigan today about inbound marketing and then flying out to speak at the Hubspot User Group (in a session with Kyle James) on Friday. I’ve got a big announcement I’m hoping to make out there as well and so for all my fellow inbound marketers, please let me know if you’re going to be there, as I’d love to catch up and chat!!!

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{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Neicole Crepeau September 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hi, Marcus. Thanks for the post. I think you’re right in that whether it’s B2C or B2B, it’s all comes down to knowing your customers and what they want/need. So, at the core, it’s the same. However, don’t you think there are some broad differences between B2B and B2C? I’m thinking specifically about the mental state of the customer and the types of content you might produce. For example, I think B2C’s might produce more content that is purely entertaining, because that’s more likely to get shared among consumers and brings with it brand recognition. Whereas when we are focused on our business and work, we are less likely to read/watch that kind of content, and probably want more focused, professional content. Also, I can imagine B2B companies writing content for their customers about how those customers can do business better and providing similar supporting content for those customers–not something your B2C customers are going to want.

Of course, it’s still about knowing your customers and what they want, but B2C versus B2B suggests some likely differences between the types of customers.

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Jack @ TheJackB September 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

That is sort of where I fall into this. Sure, they are all people but the focus in how you speak to them will be different.

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:40 am

Hey Jack, don’t disagree bud, but the same point can be made that within b2b alone, there are different personas, and the same can be said for b2c.

Appreciate you dropping by bud.

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:29 am

Hey Neicole! So great to see you, and sorry for my slow reply, been a week of jet lag and conferences, but your comment here was great.

Are there broad differences? Yes, but I think there are big differences in b2b itself, and then b2c as well. In other words, there are hundreds of marketing ‘personas’ we’re going after, and doing our best to teach.

That’s my point about p2p. People worry too much about acronyms at times and thus miss the mark. Which is a huge bummer in my opinion.

Thanks so much for dropping by Neicole!! Hope you have a great weekend.

Marcus

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Mark W Schaefer September 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Yes of course it’s all about P2P. But its also about b2B abd B2C. These are important designations with important implication sfor marekting strategy. I would not want to hire a B2B marketing firm to seel my bubble gum and i wouldn’t want to hire a b2C firm to market my ball bearings. Right?

PS. Did you know I am a WVU grad?

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 12:53 am

Seriously Mark?? You, me, and Jason Falls? Dang must be something in the water in Morgantown. ;-) I’m actually going to be in the pressbox for the LSU game next week. No kidding. We should consider going to a game together sometime, I hit about 4 a season.

Regarding the b2c/b debate, there are some exceptions. I agree, but not nearly what we’re made to believe. In fact, I think the majority of the supposed ‘differences’ are non existent…but yes, there are a few.

Good to see you Mark…best,

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer September 17, 2011 at 10:23 am

Geaux Tigers… and have fun in the pressbox. :-)

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Marcus Sheridan September 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I will Davina!! :-)

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Beth September 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for clarifying the acronyms because I was lost… Liked the video!

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 12:54 am

Hey Beth!! Glad you liked!

Have a great weekend :-)

Marcus

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Jk Allen September 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Hey Marcus,

I like what you’ve shared here. You made a great point that I’ve never really considered. I’ve always made the distinction between B2B and B2C. But mostly in the corporate space where marketing wasn’t always my main responsiblity.

What I took from this is the human element. I’ve thought about my sales to businesses as “sales to business entities”, in the past. And my sales to consumers as “sales to people” in the past. But the reality is–WE ONLY sell to people, albeit for a business or for personal use…either way, still we sale to people.

This is great info for me You’ll see why very shortly! Very shortly!

Loved the video. You’re a natural and I loved the cinematic feel to the tone (image quality) of the video. Was that a result of the camera used or some technical thing you did? I obviously haven’t spent much time with video editing!

I vow to eliminate the B2[anything] phraseology from my vernacular.

Congrats on yoru speaking engagements. I know how much those mean to you and that’s been the plan all along. And *BAM* – you’re speaking here and there left and right!

Keep it up!

PEACE

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paul wolfe September 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

JK

Now you’ve got me intrigued! Tell more my friend, tell more!

Paul

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Brian Driggs September 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Nailed it, Jk.

B2B, B2C, all these are terms made up to further distance us from the reality of what we’re doing – interacting with our fellow man. We are all producers. We are all salesmen. We are all customers.

The CEO expects to get a real human capable of solving his problem on the phone when he calls in with a problem, so why does the CEO think it’s a good idea for his own customers to navigate a maze of automation hell before being routed to a minimum wage script-reader with no authority when they call in?

Amazing how many business, marketing, social media issues can be resolved by liberal application of a kindergarten concept – The Golden Rule.

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Brian, I love your language man. Really. Frank and powerful. Blunt and crisp. No matter way to communicate in the world my friend.

The Golden Rule….yeah, I’m diggin that man. :-)

Marcus

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john Falchetto September 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

Brian
You are so right these are all terms made up by marketing profs and agencies to create an aura of importance with jargon.
In the end we are all consumers. CEOs have needs as consumers, just like Joe the plumber, does this mean we are going to care and educate one and then cold call and spam the other?

Love your CEO story. I guess some customers matter more than others, but as you say is the minimum wage script-reader the best person to judge this?

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Brian Driggs September 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thanks, gents.

Broaching a touchy subject (yet one close to my heart), are we going to care and educate Mr. CEO whilst cold-calling and spamming Mr. Plumber? What does Klout say about their “influence?”

So, to my original short-list: B2B, B2C, “influencers.” ;)

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:33 am

‘The Human Element’—-that’s exactly it my friend. That’s what we’re all about (well hopefully ;-) )

And what’s with the tease man? Huh? You been holding out on me bro? ;-)

Regarding the video, there were two cameras, strong lighting, professional equipment, and excellent editing. I’m getting ready to personally invest a boat load of money on new equipment like this because I’m ready to take video up to another level.

Thanks for being such an awesome support my friend.

Marcus

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Eugene September 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I didn’t understand a thing you said in that video because it didn’t have a “Dirty Dancing” reference.

B2B and B2C has always bothered me too. If you’re a “B2B” then your consumer is another business, instead of an individual. So what?! There is still an individual in that business in charge of making the purchase decision.

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:35 am

Hahaha Eugene, I love how you pick on me about Dirty Dancing man. But hey, if it makes you feel better, when I spoke in Michigan this week, Patrick was living large on the stage…you’d have been proud my man. ;-)

Thanks for dropping in and all the support my friend,

Marcus

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Bob Reed September 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Marcus, I agree that the b2b and b2s labels are meaningless in regards to social media and inbound marketing efficacy. In fact, distill the effort down and you get the following sentence: “Social media is where your company’s answers to your prospects’ questions intersect.”

Looking forward to hearing your big announcement!

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:38 am

Social media is where your company’s answers to your prospects’ questions intersect. Did you make that one up yourself Bob? If you did, that’s pretty dang smart brother…and if you didn’t, you’re still a smart fella. :-)

Regarding my announcement, I just released my first app to the inbound marketing Hubspotters of the world. It’s called the ‘Tipping Point’ app and is now available to anyone that uses the product…for free. I’ll be doing a big write-up on it soon.

Thanks for all bud!

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Bob Reed September 17, 2011 at 8:50 am

Yep, all mine, but I can’t say listening to you didn’t have a hand in it. I was heading in the same direction re: content, and you validated it… big time.

Congrats on the app! Looking forward to the write-up.

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john Falchetto September 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I worked with both.

I used to call them retail and wholesale, selling to small end user or selling to a larger corporation.

Is the message the same? Yes, and the tactics you use like Inbound marketing are also the same.
You are right in the end the head of purchasing who signs off on an order or the small business owner are the same. They need to believe in what you are selling.

I also work with government agencies and they are huge bureaucratic nightmares. Same thing though, in the end the decision is in the hands of one person. He is your C.

I never saw a corporation write a check.

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm

“I never saw a corporation write a check”….Awesomeness John. It’s all about the ‘P’.

Appreciate all your support my friend, I’m typing this from an airport as we speak and looking at a big Air France plane, reminds me of my friend across the pond. ;-)

Cheers bud,

Marcus

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MaAnna September 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm

If you qualify a business as a solopreneuer, or just a couple of employees, then maybe it is the same. But, I’m certainly not going to hire an enterprise web developer for a solpreneuer’s site design. Or, hire for a corporation a social media consultant who does not understand the different legal issues between a corp. and a one-person LLC. Most of the marketing I see on blogs and places like Facebook news feed is geared toward solo or small biz owners. On that level, there’s not much difference. But, I wouldn’t agree to that across such a broad definition of B2B

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Hey MaAnna, so great to see you and appreciate your example here. Where I disagree with you is this: The Sales Lion blog tailors to…..large corporations, medium sized biz, solos, non biz owners, students, etc, etc….It goes on and on. The information herein speaks to people. Those that really like it, come back. Some hire. But again, the approach is the same. Are there exceptions or modifications to marketing based on the audience and the end goals? Yes, certainly, but people are people, which is really what this post is meant to be all about, and I simply don’t want folks to forget that.

Thanks again for taking a moment to comment MaAnna. I really appreciate it.

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley September 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I love the concept of P2P… I have been talking a lot lately on my blog about “Don’t buy the Insurance Carrier, Buy the Agent”, which speaks to this point people to people. We buy from people not logos…

Really like the short video Marcus. Thanks!

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Hey Ryan, really appreciate that bud. And LOVE what you’re doing in your industry. It’s going to pay off big-time my friend. Keep speaking loud. :-)

Best!

Marcus

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Ameena Falchetto September 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm

The obsession with B2B or B2C comes from …. THE CLASSROOM! We are taught to view them differently which IS wrong. Tools are the same … I usually find that people say “Yeah well that doesn’t apply in my case cos of XYZ” because they’ve over complicated it, or they have been brainwashed by Professors or they genuinely have NO clue what is going on!

Thought provoking as ever … :)

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Ahhh my dear Ameena, totally diggin your take here. In fact, I think you and I could go on and on about how whacked out the classroom is, especially with their need to classify and acronymify (like that??) every aspect to life in general. :-)

Keep blazin your trail lady,

Marcus

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Erin Feldman September 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I don’t think there is a difference between B2B and B2C companies. Like you said, people are people. I do, however, think that tailoring of content may occur when speaking with a particular set of individuals. For instance, if I were to talk about writing with a professional group, I might address proper email etiquette. If I were speaking with a group of writers, I could still use that topic, but I would tailor it toward to submitting their writing to potential publishers. I hope that made sense. I feel as though I’m talking in circles, which probably means that it’s time for a lunchbreak. :)

Also like you, I didn’t know about the B2B and B2C acronyms until several months after I started my business. I still remember having to do a Google search or something to find out what the acronyms meant. It makes my head hurt because I feel as though I’m back in geometry class with sets and subsets.

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm

‘Set and subsets’…yep, that’s exactly it Erin, and it gets pretty old really fast. It actually drove me crazy using these acronyms in the title of this post, but I knew it was my only option…as I just can’t stand all the acronyms flying around out there, as they just end up alienating folks due to their misunderstanding of ‘the language’.

Hope lunch was a good one Erin, ;-)

Thanks so much for your support,

Marcus

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Tom Ewer September 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Hey Marcus,

I’m no expert on this, so please forgive me for my naiveity, but I feel like things such as this get way too overcomplicated (and I recognise that you are trying to cut through the crap).

To me it seems very simple. Yes, B2B exists on an ‘entity’ basis – as in a business is an entity. But if you distill this down, eventually you reach people. As such, all relationships, business or otherwise, are always P2P, regardless of the prevailing circumstances.

The sooner you understand that there is always a person, and not a business, making a decision on the other end of the table, the better it is for you in trying to produce positive outcomes.

My 2 cents :)

Cheers,

Tom

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Tom Ewer September 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm

P.S. The production values on that video are awesome! Can’t wait to see more.

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Awww, thanks Tom. You’re going to see a lot more soon my friend. ;-)

You’re support rocketh bud!

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Tom, this comment is worth way more than 2cents. Seriously. Awesomeness bud.

Yes, I’m trying to cut through the hills of ‘poo’ that have been created by too many ‘technical’ jargon speak and books on principles that aren’t as complicated as we try to make them.

I completely agree that b2b exists on an entity basis. That’s really the perfect way to describe it , and ultimately, it just comes down to people…that’s it.

You really ‘get it’ Tom, which is why I appreciate it so much that you come by and support the blog.

Cheers,

Marcus

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Bob Reed September 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm

BTW, Marcus. What equipment shot that video?

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hey Bob, good question man. It was a pretty nice set up. To cameras, lighting, all that stuff. Joe Pulizzi I’m sure could give you the technical jargon though.

Marcus

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Philip Nowak September 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Marcus, I agree with you 100%. I love the concept of P2P or people to people. There are people behind every B2B business and have questions and answers just like customers of a B2C business.

Going one step further, a B2B business owner should write out and answer every possible question a customer might have using both everyday people language, aka “layman’s terms,” as well as industry terminology or lingo.

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Hey Philip, good to see you man. I agree with you whole heartedly regarding the Q and A in layman’s terms. I’ve been preaching that one from the rooftops for quite some time. In fact, I think that one skill alone is the great divide between average and amazing content marketers.

Thanks again for dropping by and supporting the blog Philip,

Marcus

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Nic Cartwright September 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

My philosophy (within sports – thou sure it gotta apply elsewhere) – is “Give people what they want”…. Surely no one ever buys something they don’t want???

Yes – over time – your other job is to change what people want – so that your own objectives are more likely to be met – but first up – listen to what your customers are asking you and give it to them…

P2P sums it up perfectly… though How about H2O – Human to Other (human)…..

Lions are Cool

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm

“H20″…not a bad one either Nic ;-)

Sports guys rock,

The Lion

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Debra Ellis September 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

B2C marketers speak directly to the decision makers. They have to sell the product or service to one person. B2B marketers often speak to intermediaries. They need to provide content that convinces the direct contact and information to assist in convincing all of the people in the decision stream. It requires a different approach.

Yes, there are people involved in every transaction. B2C is definitely P2P. A better representation for B2B is P2P2P2P. If the message is diluted from the first P to the last, the sale is lost.

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Hey Debra, so glad you chimed in, and I really do appreciate your opinion. But tell me, specifically how is the approach any different in terms of content production? Keep in mind, I’m not talking so much about “If you sell my product you’ll make this much money” stuff. I’m talking about the content a company puts out there to the world. I’d love to hear your further thoughts.

Marcus

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Debra Ellis September 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Hi Marcus,

Most B2B people already know that how much money they’ll make if they sell the product so I’ll skip that part. : )

B2C content is (or should be) all about the consumers. How the product or service improves their lives, saves them money, increases their fun, etc. B2B content is more complicated because it has to appeal to the end user if it is public (they read corporate blogs too) and include information on how to sell the products and services for the corporate reader. The better the information the B2B company provides for its customers (B2C companies), the more sales. But, and this is a big one, if the information is public, it can create an environment where it hurts the B2C companies. Having two content sources where the consumer information is public and the company information is private is an option, but that is a lot of content management. The time involved can overwhelm small to midsize businesses.

A good example of a company providing public content for both consumers and companies is Sears Parts Division. The schematics they provide are amazing. (Not all content is verbal.) They are so good that it reduces the need for technicians to do appliance repairs. If the primary source of Sears Parts revenue was from the technicians, how would the content serve the company’s customers? It wouldn’t. I’m not even sure it serves Sears because they don’t have the best prices. People can check the drawings to find the right part and then search for the best price. Gating the content would be a better idea.

B2B content also needs to help the reader understand why their products and services are better than the competitors. The information that does that is rarely a good fit for talking with consumers. It includes industry terminology and specifics that most people don’t care about. One B2B company that I audited (name withheld due to non-disclosure agreement) made a content shift from talking about manufacturing processes, quality control, and other company information to writing exclusively for the end user. Blog traffic increased as sales decreased. The things that appealed to the consumer alienated their customers. It is a delicate balancing act that B2C companies avoid.

Saying that it’s people to people over-simplifies it because the needs of consumers are very different from the needs of companies.

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

Hey Debra, I really appreciate the fact that you came back and shared such a great example of the differences between the two.

Although I can’t say we completely agree, I can say that I feel you make a great point.

To me, marketing is great teaching. It will change and vary on many levels, be it b2c or b2b, depending on who the target market or buying persona is, but the principle, that of great teaching, never changes.

You rock Debra..and you’re one seriously smart person!!

Marcus

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Debra Ellis September 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Thank you Marcus. I appreciated your question because it reminded me of some great experiences. I’ve been crossing channels and creating marketing strategies for a long time. Your point “marketing is great teaching” is spot on. Educating customers (whether they are direct consumers or resellers) increase sales and reduces costs.

Keep up the thought provoking posts and feel free to challenge me at any time. We’ll learn from each other.

PS: I still like my concrete pool. : )

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Davina K. Brewer September 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

Great examples Debra, nice to see.

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Debra Ellis September 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Thank you Davina. Your points were very good especially the “integration and relevance.” Finding that common ground can be challenging in face to face relationships. Doing it electronically is even harder.

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Brenda Stoltz September 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Great example, Debra.

The first time I saw Marcus talk in person, I was blown away and ready to ditch 20 years of marketing experience (primarily B2B with some B2C and B2G thrown in for good measure) and redo all my clients’ blog strategies. I was convinced I was doing it all wrong – such is the power of Marcus’ message!

When I went back and reviewed my client strategies, I realized that there are differences. Ditching the corporate speak and P2P goes across the board, yes, but there are differences. It’s been a few months and I wish I could remember specifics – because it did happen!

We can all be acronym haters as well, but if my buyer needs to hear me speak his language as proof that I have industry experience and know what I’m talking about (and often this is the case) then I’d be wise to do so.

Great discussion! Thanks for another though-provoking post, Marcus!

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Debra Ellis October 1, 2011 at 8:43 am

Thank you Brenda. Your comment “We can all be acronym haters as well, but if my buyer needs to hear me speak his language as proof that I have industry experience and know what I’m talking about (and often this is the case) then I’d be wise to do so.” is spot on. The ability to speak the language is key.

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Marcus Sheridan October 1, 2011 at 11:31 am

Hey Brenda, let me clarifying what I’m saying here:

Great content is all about being a great teacher. If you look at the comment stream here, many people didn’t even know what b2b meant. Does that mean b2b shouldn’t be used in a conference full of ‘b2b’ PR consultants? No, of course not.

Great teachers speak at the level of their audience. Sometimes, that means acronyms are perfect. On other occasions, because of different levels of knowledge and understanding, that same language will draw blank looks.

So the moral of this article is that we can’t be assumptive with the way we speak, write, and communicate. And 90% of the time, there is a gap in that communication.

There is never a hard and fast rule here. Constant adjustment will always be required.

Thanks again for being a part of the conversation Debra!

Marcus

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Erica Allison September 16, 2011 at 8:56 am

Great video, Marcus. Oh, and the post wasn’t bad either! :) At the end of the day, it all boils down to getting your content right. I actually work for both of the Bs…I have retail clients that I handle marketing for and I have “services” clients that I handle PR and social for; both need great content that reach their target market. Their target market is a person. Tailor your content for that particular person.

I’ve come a long way, huh, Marcus? :) Very easy transition, my friend. Very easy. Now, to get all my wheels in motion, that’s coming….

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

Hey Erica! (and happy b-day again to you kind lady :-) )

Thanks for the kind words regarding the video and I appreciate what you’re saying here in that when it comes down to it, you’re working with people. Sure, there are different classes and types of people. Heck, there are different classes in C and B, but bottom line, the great marketer knows how to listen well and teach even better.

Thanks for you tremendous support Erica. :)

Marcus

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John Sherry September 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Come on Marcus, let’s cut to the chase. They are all letters of funky marketing speak to create a buzz or a trend within the business field. I don’t ever subscribe to this focus on market segementation. It is, and always has been, how you connect, serve, treat, and respond to people be it a one-on-one meting or a training seminar, a Facebook hook up or a returned faulty product at your store. Treat people right and they will do the same to you. Or BN2P – Be Nice To People!

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:09 am

BN2P – Be Nice To People!…Yes John! Love that man.

Your thoughts don’t surprise me at all actually. That’s the way you see the world. Kind of similar to me– breaking things down in a way that chucks out all the frivolous make up and details, to the core of the matter….And being good to people is always the core of the matter when it comes to success and happiness in life.

Have a great weekend my friend.

Marcus

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pea September 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Over the years in business I have found that people obfuscate things to make them seem more knowledgeable than the people they are selling their services to and to justify their pay cheque.

An online marketer or SEO merchant has to create mystery and intrigue in what is a fairly straightforward online PR/marketing job for their clients. Hence the ever changing acronyms that make it all seem so much more complicated than it is. The banking industry have been doing this for years.
The individuals job is to do what you have done and strip any task down to it’s bare bones and dispense of the unnecessary clutter and nonsense.

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 8:02 am

Holy Cow Pea, this comment was literally awesome. Really, I mean super AWESOME….plus you used the word ‘obfuscate’ ;-)

Yeah, this whole effort to create mystery and intrigue, all in an effort to seem important, is a shame. And really helps no one in the long run. Oh well.

Love your spunk Pea, and really appreciate you dropping by.

Marcus

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leon Noone September 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

G’Day Marcus,
To quote the title of a Fletcher Henderson-look him up man-classic, “Yeah Man.” I only use B2B in the blogosphere. I’d never use it to a client or prospect.

Y’know mate, there’s so much wheel reinvention in internet marketing that I’m surprised that it doesn’t just roll off the planet: sort of blogosphere into stratosphere!

The first book I ever read about internet marketing contained this gem; “If you think this sounds like old fashioned mail order, you’re right.” Abloodymen!

Now, if you really want to discover what marketing’s all about, there are two books by Al Ries and Jack Trout that you really must read:
“Positioning, the Battle for The Mind” and “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.”

Anyway, I’m off to listen to some sides by Fletcher Henderson.
Make sure you have fun
Regards
Leon

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 7:56 am

there’s so much wheel reinvention in internet marketing that I’m surprised that it doesn’t just roll off the planet

Ahh yes, another Leon classic.

Here is what I like about you so much Leon: You don’t make things more complicated than they really are. Amen brother. This whole wheel reinvention is literally driving me bonkers….which is where pool guys and Aussie’s with flare have to step in and call a spade a spade. ;-)

Thanks for all bud,

Marcus

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Grady Pruitt September 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

This is a great post!

I have often wondered what all the fuss was with B2B vs B2C. I mean, as far s I could tell, the ONLY difference was in the scale. With B2B, you might be selling more of a given product at one time.

I like your idea that it’s all Person to Person, because that’s how relationships are formed. You don’t form a relationship with a business, you form a relationship with the people who run and operate a business.

Thanks for sharing!

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Marcus Sheridan September 17, 2011 at 7:51 am

Hi Grady! A pleasure to have you come by here!

I like the word you used to describe the difference–scale. That’s spot on, as it goes along with the point that the principle of being a great teacher, and marketer, doesn’t change.

Appreciate the comment bud, come back again!

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer September 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Interesting discussion my friend, so a few rambling thoughts:

1) Are these made up, academic terms? Sure. Most of us don’t use B2B or B2C except when talking to each other. The other thing I think of when I hear “it’s a B2B” is “it’s a small biz you’ve not heard of, so we’re calling it that” when of course almost ALL businesses operate under the general consumer radar, except major global brands. IMO.

2) People make decisions, true that. So ITA get what you’re saying there, P2P. Except in larger consumer or business organizations, those people answer to other people who answer to boards and stockholders and lawyers. Debra’s excellent point about the layers of people in the middle, that is what makes B2B different if not in terms of marketing and marketing strategy. By targeting the wrong info to the wrong audience, a B2B can alienate their paying customers.

3) It IS about People. People want to know who it’ll help them, how to get a deal on whatever they’re buying. Business people want to know how it’ll help them.. and how to make money on the deal, how to sell it to their bosses, put it into their workflows, how to resell it to their users WITH the add-on expense of being the ‘middleman’ so to type, when the consumer wants to cut out as many middle people – and expenses – as possible.

4) It is about People, the right ones for the job. See Mark and other comments on which company you hire to do what. If you’re a tech or Interweb startup looking for a lawyer, do you go with the boring old farts on the nameplate who’ve not practiced in 10 years type firm, the brash personal injury powerhouses, or does the sleek, ‘glass and chrome’ marketing aesthetic of the ‘tech’ firm speak more to you and your business?

It’s not that I think you’re wrong so much as.. it’s N2N or I2I, Need to Need or Interest to Interest; as a PR person, I always come back to integration and relevance, what matters most to the different audiences. Sometimes yes it is price, up front and clear; others it’s how something works, getting from A to B. And for all, it’s WIIFM – and what’s in it for a consumer may vary from what’s in it for a stockholder, an employee, a vendor or an enterprise needing your business’s products or services to build their own. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan September 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Davina, let me just say this comment was awesome. Really awesome. Your professional PR perspective really comes across here big time, and the ‘Need to Need’ and ‘Interest to Interest’ mentality is perfectly in-line with my thoughts.

Thanks for being awesome :-)

Marcus

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Bryan Thompson September 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

LOL @ OPP, XYZ. :)

Great reminder, Marcus. I love the P2P idea. I guess from where I’ve come from, providing a service to businesses is what I’ve done, but to me, they’re my customer. That’s all there is to it. I provide a service to them so they can better perform their services to their own customers. In the end, we’re all connected.

On the side, have you read Gary Vaynerchuk’s “The Thank You Economy?” I’m reading it now, and it deals with this very thing. The elements and fundamentals of business and sales are changing. More than that, they’ve changed. Gone are the days when business owners take a back seat to their company and let their salesmen do everything. It’s crucial for biz owners to be intentional about every person that approaches them. It’s ALL service industry!

Great thoughts my friend. Congrats on so much success you’re experiencing. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Appreciate you, buddy!

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Marcus Sheridan September 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Hey Bryan! So nice to see you man, hope all is well with you and that fam of yours.

Yeah, Gary hits on some pretty good stuff with Thank You Economy. I got that book when I met him in NYC earlier this year. What a guy. Unbelievable energy. Honestly, it’s my goal to speak with him at some point in my career.

Appreciate your kind words my friend,

Marcus

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Steve | ROI detector September 18, 2011 at 1:06 am

Awesome video and you’re right…companies are better off addressing problems than pretending they don’t exist. After all, it’s incredibly easy for the customer to find out from someone else which could make it worse. As customers we’re always afraid of buying crappy products and we usually fear the worst. When a company is straight forward and honest, it helps alleviate those fears since they’re usually not as bad as the customers imagination.

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Marcus Sheridan September 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Exactly Steve. There’s no way around these ‘negatives’ as a business, especially with the power of social media, so the way to deal with the problem is head-on…and thus earning the respect or loyalty of fans everywhere. The stuff works, it’s just a matter of who’s got the guts to answer the questions people really care about.

Always good to see you bud,

Marcus

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Tim Johnson September 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

While ALL selling is indeed person to person, there is one big, significant difference between B2B and B2C. That difference is whose money is being spent. Whichever checkbook the money comes from does dictate the playing field, the decision making process and the underlying psychology of the sales process.

While emotions play a role in all sales, a consumer is much more prone to impulse purchases and very often requires a much lower amount of information and justification in order to purchase. A business consumer however, must cover their butt, by being able to explain and defend what they want to buy, why they want to buy it and when they want to buy it. I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point.

That said, good content is good content, for both B2B and B2C.

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Marcus Sheridan September 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Hey Tim, great to see you here, and really appreciate your comment.

Although I agree that there is a ‘difference’ with some components of B2B and B2C, I feel that good marketing is good marketing. Great teaching is great teaching. And that’s what I’m trying to help folks understand—their business is not the exception to the rule when it comes to being a teacher of men.

Thanks again Tim,

Marcus

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Ryan Critchett September 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Your posts always get me thinking. You go deep man! I like the idea of people to people. It’s a great way to frame this selling and marketing thing.

Lionhead!

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Marcus Sheridan September 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Thanks Ryan! Always happy to make you think brother!

Have an awesome week :-)

Marcus

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Rajka Milanovic Galbraith September 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Dear Marcus

Now that I am out of the dark about what B2B and B2C means, I would have to agree with you that you should treat them the same.

Always love your examples. Safe travels and Enjoy!

Cheers,
Rajka

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Marcus Sheridan September 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Speaking of being in the dark Rajka, I’m glad you bring that up, as the high, high majority of folks are in your same boat.

Your words are so kind and appreciated Rajka!

Marcus

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Richard Rudy September 20, 2011 at 4:34 am

I would agree to a point. B2B does differ in one part of messaging. If you’re selling to retailers they care about things like sell-through and margin. You can use a lot of the same content marketing to B2B as B2C but it’s not a two way street. Also depending on the industry, I find helping your B2B customers sell your product B2C is also an effective content strategy. Sure, your B2B and B2C customers care about the same features, but sometimes you need to teach B2B customers how to highlight those features to their customers.

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Marcus Sheridan September 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Hey Richard, I certainly understand your point. The main thing I’m trying to help folks see is that great teaching is great teaching, either way you shake it. And instead of always trying to classify this and that, dividing this and that, we should rather focus on solid principles of thought leadership and influence.

Thanks so much for your comment,

Marcus

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Traci Wheeler September 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

A little late on this one. Just catching up on my reading. Anyway, I love what you have to say here, Marcus. Just last week my husband, an attorney, asked me what B2B meant. He was as baffled as the plumbers and auto mechanics you refer to in the post. Person-to-person keeps it real. Keep up the good work!

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Marcus Sheridan September 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Hey Traci!! So great to see you again :-) Love the example of your husband, which is just one more reason why we should chuck the acronyms out the door!

Thanks for all your support Traci and have a wonderful week,

Marcus

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Keith September 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm

In all honesty, my biz is B2A (biz to ANYONE!) :-)

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Anthony_Rodriguez September 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

This is one of the greatest posts I have seen in a while. Thanks for writing it! I never really understood the B2B or B2C concept since businesses for all intents and purposes don’t sell a thing. People buy people first then consider what that person is offering second. When you become the trusted source of information customers keep coming back for more.

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Marcus Sheridan September 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Amen Anthony. So glad you got something from this post and I certainly hope you’ll come by again in the future and keep the conversation going. :-)

Best,

Marcus

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Generate Income January 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Hello Marcus,

Nice post you got there. I agree with you that the rules of great content does not change. Having a great content will help your audience know more about your company and your product. They will be waiting for your next post or information because they find it useful in their business or whatever purpose they may serve to them. Just like this one I will definitely look forward to your next post because I really find them informational.

Thanks,

Gray

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Marcus Sheridan January 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Really appreciate that Gray, and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the post and hope you’ll come back again. :)

Marcus

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