B2B vs. B2C Advertising Best Practices

MediaGo Staff | 01/21/2021

While we’ve previously explored the difference between performance and brand advertising, and the difference between various ad formats like native, display, and video, there’s still an important topic that we’ve yet to address: the different ways to approach B2B and B2C advertising.

B2B refers to a “business to business” model, which means that a company is offering its services directly to another business. B2C, on the other hand, means “business to consumer,” which is the relationship that most of us have with brands and companies. It seems only natural that a different advertising approach be taken for B2B and B2C products. After all, the target audience is different, right? In actuality, things are much more nuanced. 

Although it’s true that B2B advertisers are focused on companies instead of individual consumers, it’s actually impossible to interface directly with a company; thus, B2B advertisers face the challenge of seeking out and converting corporate decision-makers who are responsible for making purchases on behalf of their company. These decision-makers are normal people just like the rest of us, with their own thought processes and emotional responses. And the ads should take this into account.

In other words, B2B and B2C advertisers would do well to remember that their audiences have more in common than it might seem at first glance! So why not just end the discussion here, and call it all B2H (business to human)? As idealistic as that idea sounds, there are a few key differences between B2B and B2C shoppers when it comes to their purchasing mindset. We recommend keeping the following guidelines in mind when you’re putting together your next B2B or B2C ad campaign:

Logical vs. Emotional

B2B shoppers tend to be looking for a solution that addresses a need at their company. Because of this, they tend to be more logic-driven and focused on details – like how the product will integrate or specifically help their team’s projects and their professional career. Thus, B2B ads will benefit from more direct, concrete and focused messaging. 

However, that’s not to say that there’s no room for emotion. B2B buyers want their careers to benefit from making wise, informed purchases. That’s why it’s a good idea to speak directly to their desire for their project or company to succeed. For example, a social media professional might want a better tool to grow their audience. In this instance, it would be a good idea to highlight the specific growth percentage they can expect from using your product, and the benefits it can bring them on a personal and professional level.

B2C shoppers, on the other hand, tend to be more emotional and impulsive. Presumably, they’re making purchases with their own money instead of on the company dime. But because their purchases are generally smaller and less consequential, they are more prone to act on emotion than on logic.

Long Sales Cycle vs. Short Sales Cycle

B2B shoppers are generally looking for a product or service that will be used by multiple people at their organization. Because of this – and because of the higher average price point of business products compared to consumer products – these shoppers need to make sure that their company is fully onboard with the purchase. In other words, they need to get internal buy-in. In a large company, this might involve multiple rounds of review and discussion before a sale is eventually made. You can thus expect a much longer sales cycle for B2B clients.

B2C shoppers might need to get their own form of “buy-in” from their spouse or other family members, but they tend to move faster and more unilaterally on purchases. Generally speaking, there are fewer stakeholders involved in consumer purchases and therefore fewer considerations before making a purchase. Because of this, the B2C sales cycle is much shorter than that of B2B.

It’s important to remember: the length of a sales cycle significantly impacts conversion cost! 

Playful vs. Educational

Your ad content should reflect the shopping mindset of your target audience. B2B consumers tend to be at work when they’re researching their purchase, and they’re almost certainly thinking about how your product or service will impact their work performance. It’s thus safe to assume that they’re in a more serious, analytical mindset. While it’s OK to inject a bit of levity into your B2B ads, don’t get too silly. A goofy ad could give the impression that you don’t take business seriously. That’s why an informed, educational approach (with a bit of humor) works best for B2B ads.

B2C ads, on the other hand, can afford to be lighter and more humorous. As we mentioned above, B2C shoppers tend to follow their emotions more than B2B shoppers. Find out what makes your target audience tick, and then go ahead and tickle their funny bone.

This is just the beginning of our exploration into the differences between B2B and B2C advertisements. There’s much more to unpack so we encourage you to check back in for future posts where we’ll dive deeper into this topic.