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B2b And B2c Marketing Strategies

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Marketing is an integral part of any business operation, regardless of platform or environment (brick and mortar versus virtual); type of product sold or service rendered and target market. With the advent of Internet technology, new business models or sites such as business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), have emerged which require the employment of different marketing strategies and tools to attract and retain customers. The following sections will provide a comparison of the marketing strategies employed and tools utilized by B2B and B2C e-business sites.

Business owners, members of the management team and key decision-makers are primarily the target for B2B marketing programs. According to Management Centre Europe's website, "B2B marketing is the process by which your company builds and maintains strong and profitable relationships with business customers - by creating value for current and potential customers and then by ensuring a fair price from them in return." B2B companies cater to other organizations by offering products and services that directly benefits the company. Companies benefit from these products/services by increasing the efficiency, organization and profitability (sales and savings) of the company. Such products and services include software, office supplies, maintenance and consulting services.

On the other hand, B2C sites allow companies and consumers (public) to interact and conduct business electronically or digitally. There are three main B2C models which include auctions, online stores and online services., and are just some of the thousands (if not millions) of B2C sites in existence.

Despite having different target customer (business vs. consumer), the purpose of marketing initiatives for both B2B and B2C sites are the same, which is to attract and retain their target market. However, the marketing approach and tools used to reach out to the general public (consumers) and business customers are very different.

Steve Minnett stated in his book B2B Marketing (2001) that one of the major differences between B2B and B2C sites is that the latter is determined or influenced by fashion or trend while B2B, is driven by technological progress. Furthermore, B2B is driven primarily by need and not want.

The marketing approach taken by B2B sites involve the use of offline methods such as tradeshows and advertising to emphasize how B2B companies can increase profitability for the clients by improving efficiency and reducing costs. Organizations emphasize this using the supply chain as the focus of the marketing material or program. Businesses can immensely improve its profitability by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of its supply chain. B2C sites also utilize the same offline methods in addition to online methods such as mass email, banner ads and pop-up ads. However, personal benefit or satisfaction is the main message.

According to MarketingProf, LLC's website, customers for B2C sites tend to complete transaction faster than B2B sites. The site further added that B2B customers tend to investigate more on the products/services before initiating and completing the transaction. This investigation usually takes a longer period of time as information may have to go through certain organizational channels (for B2B customers) for approval. Because of this, the marketing technique employed for B2B requests site visitors to provide their contact information so that online and offline methods of marketing can be used. Representatives for the B2B company may call, write customized/personalized email or traditional letters to these companies to offer further assistance/information and persuade them to do business.

In an article written by Robert W. Bly (n.d.), he talks about the following differences between the two e-business models:

* Advertising for consumer largely involves items or services the public's desire (want) and not necessarily need. On the other hand, advertising for businesses are for products or services companies already purchase on a routine basis. Companies purchase these products or services for what they deem would help the organization become "profitable, competitive and successful" (Bly, n.d.).

* Bly points out that most B2B customers are well-informed on the features of the products/services being offered; hence, marketing copywriters must conduct a comprehensive research to effectively market the product or service. Business customers are more inclined to respond to marketing materials that offer information. On the other hand, the general public has the tendency to be influenced by slogans or curiosity with products which they do not necessarily know, need or want.

* Consumers respond to colorful marketing material; in contrast, business buyers are more concerned with the type and amount of information provided by the marketing material.

* B2B involves a multi-step buying process; therefore, marketing efforts involve the use of several tools/mediums in addition to human intervention before a purchase agreement is reached. In a B2B environment, the decision to purchase a product or service is typically made by several people (management team or department). Therefore, B2B marketing teams "must address the needs of the people involved in the decision" (Bly, n.d.). In comparison, it is usually the consumer's sole decision when he/she wants to purchase a product or utilize a service.

* In a B2B setting, business buyers look for products or services that would save the company time and money; therefore, the message of the marketing campaign should emphasize that the product/service is able to help the company achieve those. On the



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