Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

Is B2B Different Than B2C?

August 8th, 2006 by Bob Bly

In a recent post on this blog, JS proclaimed that there is “no difference” between business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing … noting that both are just “business to people” marketing.

But is that really true? Is selling a Happy Meal really the same as selling enterprise software to a Fortune 500 UNIX data center manager?

If JS is right, then there is absolutely no need for the countless seminars, speeches, courses, books, articles, and publications devoted to B2B.

I do NOT agree with JS. I can think of at least half a dozen significant differences between B2B and B2C.

Here’s one: the business buyer is typically much more knowledgeable about the product than a consumer.

For instance, the typical homeowner knows nothing about the roofing shingles you are trying to sell him.

But a professional roofer knows a lot about shingles and their installation — a lot more than the copywriter writing the ad, most likely.

What about you? Do you think B2B and B2C are basically the same … or fundamentally different?

If so, what are the important differences — and how do they affect your marketing efforts?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 at 9:38 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

79 responses about “Is B2B Different Than B2C?”

  1. Bob McCarthy said:

    I believe the differences are much less than you and others think.

    To be sure, there are knowledgeable buyers and unknowledgeable buyers for both B2B and B2C.

    To use your example, a roofer who sells his services to commercial accounts could have as his customer the facilities manager (knowledgeble customer) or the building owner (unknowledgeable customer).

    I run into this all the time. Sometimes my customer is an owner who knows very little about direct marketing (other than it could help his business) and sometimes it is the marketing director who might be very knowledgeable about my work.

    B2B is more often associated with lead generation programs – but even that’s not accurate. There are plenty of B2C businesses that use lead generation.

    B2B marketers often argue that their audiences and mailing lists are smaller, more narrow and more focused than B2C. But that’s not true either. There are plenty of specialized consumer lists (for example, hobby lists) that are equally small, narrow and focused.

    Where I might agree with you is with the copywriting. B2B copywriting can be much more challenging when you are writing to professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers, programmers and others who have their own language – and a level of knowledge in their fields well beyond the layman writer.

    Overall, I think B2B is more a creation of the B2B marketers (of which I am one) who want to position themselves as specialists – a strategy, by the way, that has been very successful. Many marketing service buyers today make this a priority in their vendor selection process.

    Bob McCarthy
    McCarthy & King Marketing, Inc.

  2. Michael Stelzner said:

    Bob – You and I are in full agreement. I would not be in business if there was no difference.

    Perhaps the biggest difference is the sales cycle. Many consumers buy on impulse or based on a true need (TV just broke so I need a new one).

    However, business have a much more complicated process that must take place to make a purchase. First, usually many people are involved with the decision to purchase something. Second, much analysis usually takes place (for example: the reading of white papers, etc.). Third, you cannot walk into a store or even purchase most business-to-business items on Amazon (with the exception of paper clips and the like).

    The fact is that servers, software and services (three big B2B products) are real expensive and must have a ton of support around them to sell the products.

    Enough from me…


  3. Joseph Ratliff said:

    There is definetly a substantial difference between the B to B client and a B to C client in terms of marketing to them…

    B to B, there are many more influences in the purchasing/investing decision such as process and procedure, others involved in the decision, and the mindset that a B to B client has of buying on fact.

    B to C will typically buy more on emotion, and are more easily influenced by a marketing piece designed around that aspect.

    Joe Ratliff

  4. Don Marti said:

    Here’s how open source software sells. This may or may not apply to your product.

    1. Knock someone’s socks off with a really good demo in which the product itself makes the person see a way to be more successful at work. This can be a real online demo, a site using the product, or a copy of the product bundled with a Linux distribution. You now have an internal advocate working for you within the company. (Since you’re distributing the software as widely as possible and making it as easy to try as possible, you can afford to give a lot of demos per internal advocate generated.)

    2. Provide the backup information that the internal advocate can use to work through the company buying process. An internal advocate will participate in online forums to help you develop this content.

    3. By the time the “real sales process” starts, most of the minds have already been made up and it’s mostly your internal advocate’s fight.

    You can drop the ball and make a good product unsellable through a lack of good backup information and followup. But you can’t make a crummy product sellable, because people don’t read white papers until they already want the product.

    People don’t read white papers until they already want the product.

  5. Jim Logan said:

    B2B and B2C are similar in that there are people involved and people buy, consciously or subconsciously, when they perceive a benefit, recognize a valued difference in one offer versus another, and believe in the entity making the offer.

    Tactics are different, more or fewer people are involved in the decision, and sales cycles can be painfully long of lightening quick, but the fundamental elements of the buying criteria are the same.

    In the example you gave, both the roofer and the homeowner are looking for the same things in their respective purchases – benefits, difference, and reason to believe. When they find the three together, they purchase.

  6. Kevin Hillstrom said:

    I’ve been in B2C my entire career. The marketing I do tends to be impersonal. I send a catalog, or an e-mail, cross my fingers, hope I’ve targeted my audience well, and then sit back and enjoy a 3% response rate and profitable return on investment.

    B2B marketers are constantly knocking on my door. Their lives are very different. They must beat down doors, deal with grumpy decision makers who don’t want to hear about the latest and greatest products, finally get through to decision makers, build a relationship, demonstrate a quality product, tolerate a six or nine month corporate purchase process, and then stay in-touch with the client to make sure that the relationship is going well.

    I would also argue that the B2B role requires outstanding people skills, especially when dealing with individuals at other companies. The B2C role requires outstanding people skills, especially when dealing with internal politics.

  7. Mike Duffy said:

    B2C and B2B are not the same. The the motivations of the buyer are quite different, which directly impacts the effectiveness of any particular “pitch”. Fundamentally, B2B is about addressing a point of pain and economic impact (will it increase revenue or decrease costs). The B2C motivations are much more diffuse (ego, style, affordability, etc). Yes, it’s all about fitting your customer’s world view (as Seth Godin puts it), but those world views are very different.

  8. Martin Gross-Albenhausen said:

    I do not fully agree: Yes, B2B is different, but no: not all buyers are dominated by grumpy decision-makers. My company (Rentrop Publishing Group) is selling via direct-mail, e-mail, telephone and the internet mostly to business-audiences, proprietors and employees likewise. We found that the art of direct-marketing to business-audiences still consists in finding the hidden desires of the customers. If you touch their “sweet-spot”, they are most likely to listen to or read through the following sales-pitch. That is about the importance of teaser-copy, showing the USP etc.
    Afterwards you have to supply arguments in order to help them convince the decision-makers. Thats why you need enough backup-material.
    But even in catalogs you have to guide the buyers to the right decision: Am I a deluxe-buyer or a bestprice-buddy? Herschell Gordon Lewis talks about “force communication” – in this, all directmarketers are create equal (IMHO).

    All the best from good old Germany,


  9. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob, haven’t you said your response has gone up tremendously since you started using B2C writing tactics in your B2B marketing? I’m not disagreeing with what’s been posted here, but you’ve made me see that B2B purchasers can and do respond emotionally — and that B2B marketing messages should take that into account.

  10. Bob Bly said:

    DH: You are right. I feel there are more similarities in B2B vs. B2C than differences. There are, however, half a dozen or so key differences — and they are important. And yes, when we make B2B more “human” by applying a bit of a B2C tone and feel, response goes up — because so much B2B focuses on the product, not the prospect, and ignores the buyer as a human being with needs, fears, wants, and desires. Do you agree?

  11. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob, I completely agree.

  12. Michael Stelzner said:

    I agree also.

  13. Brandon said:

    I think the two are entirely different when it comes down to finally SELLING whatever it is you’re marketing. When a person moves beyond “I may want this…” to “Should I actually buy this…” different factors come into play for a B2B decision-maker than a B2C customer.

    A B2C customer thinks only about, “Do I REALLY want it? Do I really NEED it? Do I want or need it NOW?” and so forth. A B2B customer thinks about “Would this get approved? How does this change direction for the company/department? Do I need others’ buy-in first?”

    The people-based desire you appeal to may be the same at first, but that’s only to generate an initial interest in whatever you’re marketing. After that, the other factors take over.

  14. Chestin Salisbury said:

    I believe what we’re really discussing is style vs substance.

    In substance, marketing B2B or B2C is no different. To be successful with either requires you hit the emotional hot-button, agitate their desire/need to have it fulfilled, provide plenty of support as to why you have the best solution for their need, and then convert them to paying customers. As a previous post said, it doesnt’ matter if the buying cycle is lengthy and drawn out vs lightening quick or if the target prospect is a stuffed shirt C-level executive vs a mini-van driving soccer mom, the substance of the process doesn’t change.

    When it comes to style however, there is most definitely a difference. The same ‘cutesy’ ways you would use to find the soccer mom, educate her about your product or service and how it can fulfill her needs are certainly not the same methods you’d use to convince a boardroom full of stuffed shirts that you have the answer they’re looking for.

    Knowing the appropriate style requires knowing your target customer, but no matter the style, it should never interfere with the substance.

  15. Craig said:

    Your copywriting shouldn’t change whether your writing copy for b2b or b2c folks and here’s why:

    In b2b and b2c you’re still selling directly to people.

    What makes us and our marketing different, is that people have personalities, businesses do not.

    Your copywriting should always communicate and push your prospects emotional buy-buttons at will. People buy based on “emotions” and make decisions based on what they want to do, not what they need.

    Here’s an example. If you end up buying a home you’re ultimately buying it because you’re going to feel better in that particular home than in your existing home or in another home. You don’t look at it and say “Well, I like the layout and the square-footage”. There’s a reason why. “Because Im able to entertain more there and I enjoy entertaining.” They’re all emotional things. And unless you’re triggering emotions, you’re going to have a tough time making sells whether in b2b or b2c. This is the universal truth about marketing and what makes “emotional direct-response copywriting” so effective.

  16. Jim Symcox said:

    Well that caused a juicy discussion…

    The way I see it is you have a global market, within that you segment your market using their differences and characteristics.

    So marketing to SAGA type customers will be different to Frequent Flyer customers. Just as marketing to IT companies is different to marketing to insurance companies, which is different to marketing to newspapers.

    I’ve seen business people make decisions based purely on emotional reasons. After all who knows business people who’ve bought because they like the salesperson? That’s emotion.


  17. corridas said:

    disegno piacevole, lavoro grande 🙂

  18. mexico said:

    i’am really impressed!!

  19. peso said:

    Great site! Good luck to it’s owner!

  20. los tres said:

    disegno piacevole, lavoro grande 🙂

  21. servicios said:

    I’ll tell my colleagues about your page..!

  22. riesgos said:

    Interfaccia comoda, colori piacevoli, buoni!

  23. ropa said:

    Ich fand gute und wichtige Informationen – dir zu danken.

  24. italiano said:

    ooo! it’s one of the best sites ever! 🙂

  25. analisis said:

    work’s done the way it must be..! ^^

  26. bianchi said:

    Lavoro eccellente! ..ringraziamenti per le informazioni..realmente lo apprezzo: D

  27. moglie said:

    i’am really impressed!!

  28. naturista said:

    Dein Aufstellungsort verdient nur gute Woerter. Danke.

  29. donne said:

    ooo! it’s one of the best sites ever! 🙂

  30. video xxx gratis said:

    mmm.. nice design, I must say..

  31. culo said:

    Great site! Good luck to it’s owner!

  32. chat said:

    Chi ha fatto questo? E un buon posto per trovare le informazioni importanti!:)

  33. tesine said:

    La buona visione del senso!

  34. incontri said:

    Chi ha fatto questo? E un buon posto per trovare le informazioni importanti!:)

  35. can you get shingles more than once said:

    It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Erin Lee said:


  37. ritariya said:

    It’s an awesome article. I could find more contented matter in the post. It’s my pleasure to see the post .I feel so delightful while reading the article. It’s really informative. You can make the post much better if you add some more content in the article. Thanks for sharing the post. Keep sharing the updated postsprivate tours washington dc

  38. Kane said:

    However, you need to keep in mind that you will always need to get some grades. If I were a student, I would use some special services that help with writing like Paperell. Cause it is really simple to get more free time and earn such grades as other students.

  39. Brainsphere said:

    Very usfull article.Thanks for sharing

  40. Webcastle said:

    Thank you for sharing…. Great article.

  41. Erp in dubai said:

    Stimes ERP has a benchmark of its own among ERP companies in Dubai for providing an all-round approach and customized ERP software.

  42. Black Widow Outfits said:

    wow… what a great blog, this writter who wrote this article it’s realy a great blogger, this article so inspiring me to be a better person

  43. summer said:

    Thanks for sharing.
    web designing companies in use

  44. Shilpa said:

    Thank you for sharing the difference between B2B and B2C.
    Visit for web design Dubai company.

  45. ReenaJanet said:

    A lot of valuable information can be derived from the post.Thanks for amazing share. get your ex back spell

  46. erp software in dubai said:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable post. Worth reading it. payroll software in Dubai

  47. Corwin said:

    puppies for sale,pug puppies for sale in oregon,pug puppies for sale in az,pug puppies for sale in va,pug puppies near mepugs for sale,pug puppies for sale,pugs for sale near me,cheap pugs for sale,pug puppies for sale near me teacup pug [ We breed with exception. We are engaged in the breeding of Pug puppy for sale, which is the most desired bulky puppy. During many years of work we could breed Pug puppies, with the most unique and exceptional colors you will dream of having. At the moment our cattery is one of the biggest in the USA who produced these valuable Pug puppies. All our Pug puppy for sale are transferred according to the law with documentation and all our Pug puppy and puppies are with registration

  48. robert said:

  49. Barnard Fife said:

    Where can I locate a transmission repair shop? My car’s automatic transmission is slipping and won’t shift gears.

  50. louis said:

    Beams IT Solutions is a Dubai-based software firm engaged in Software Consulting, Development, OutSourcing & Web-based solution.
    As an IT group, Beams is committed to providing quality products and services with the ultimate objective of increasing productivity, efficiency, and profitability of the customer business Our team members are creative, experienced, and qualified professionals who are committed, competent and reliable to provide cost-effective customized software solutions to the client. Beams is one of the competent solution providers in the field of windows & web application development based on the .net and other platforms. Our team of highly skilled and qualified professionals has hands-on experience on ASP.NET, C#, VB.NET, PHP, Jquery, Silverlight, and similar such technologies supported by the .net and open-source platform. Our expertise is in converting business models to effective long-lasting business software solutions. Our committed teams have a unique blend of functional knowledge, technical expertise, and result-oriented management experience ranging from database management to developing full-scale e-business/eCommerce software development solutions.

  51. Ndure Shoes said:

    Ndure offers the best casual comfortable trousers for women online in Pakistan. Buy wide leg, loungewear, narrow and knit trousers for girls that are best suitable for all occasions. Ndure’s trousers for women are the key to everyday comfortability.

  52. Jake said:

    FACTS ERP Software House L.L.C is a leading ERP software company headquartered in Dubai, UAE. It is the No. 1 Customizable ERP for all types of small to large businesses.

  53. zulfiqar said:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable post. Worth reading it : Read More

  54. ERP Dubai said:

    Thanks for posting this article on B2B and B2C. Keep sharing more.

  55. banerpunep said:

    its really appealing and approaching content for reading and implementation purpose.

    ERP Software Dubai

  56. Flormar Cosmetics said:

    Flormar Lightweight Lip Powder is a lip powder that gives a matte appearance without drying and aggravating the lips.

  57. hrms ae said:

    yes. its really great content for reading.

    HRMS Software Dubai

  58. Nyra said:

    Our experienced team of professionals are based in Tallaght, Dublin 24 and are dedicated to providing cost-effective solutions tailored to your individual needs. Our focus is on providing a quality service that allows you to make the best decision for your business. We look forward to helping you find the perfect truck for your needs. Get in touch with us to find the best deals for truck sales Dublin has to offer.

  59. Walkeaze said:

    Find the best collection of Bridal Clutch online in Pakistan. Walkeaze offers the best quality bridal clutch for ladies online all over Pakistan. So, grab your favorite clutch online at low prices.

  60. Ammara khan said:

    Looking for gorgeous bridal mehndi dresses? Explore the beautiful collection by Ammara Khan, a trusted brand known for its exquisite designs. Discover your dream bridal mehndi dress today!

  61. Mushtaq said:

    The wait is over. Mushtaq Cloth store offers an amazing collection of ladies’ wear sale on brands in Pakistan. Get amazing and huge discounts on all your favorite clothing brands. So, order your favorite dresses online at the Mushtaq Cloth store.

  62. Das Master Solution said:

    Das Master Solution was established in 2006 as a Private firm in the name of Masters computerswe now merged into large group DAS and changed our name to Das Master Solution to serve the business community in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. IT services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We have15 Years of experience in UAE for IT Solutions.

  63. Shahtaj said:

    Discover the latest and high quality bridal dresses by Shahtaj Qaiser. With a wide range of colors and styles, Our Latest designs will make you feel at your big day. Shop now and elevate your wardrobe with the newest and most stylish dresses.

  64. ERP Software Oman said:

    Your writing style is engaging, and you managed to break down complex ideas into easily understandable concepts. The flow of the article was smooth, and I found myself captivated from start to finish. Looking forward to more of your fantastic work!
    ERP Software Oman

  65. Deutech said:

    Illuminate your skin with Deutech’s special skin whitening cream. Our whitening cream combines powerful ingredients and proven methods to deliver visible results. Discover the power of Deutech’s whitening cream and unlock a perfect, glowing face that radiates confidence.

  66. dasmasterseo said:

    great post

  67. BabyBoxShop said:

    Celebrate the upcoming arrival of a precious little one with our range of unisex baby shower gifts. These thoughtful presents are perfect for baby showers where the gender of the baby is not revealed or for families who prefer gender-neutral options. Show your excitement and love with a gift that will make the baby shower even more special.

  68. BabyBoxShop said:

    A baby girl gift hamper is a delightful way to welcome a baby girl into the world. These hampers are filled with a variety of baby essentials and adorable items designed to make the baby girl’s early days as special as possible.

  69. Anthony Meile said:

    Our services offer the peace of mind that homeowners and business owners search for, as our technicians are certified and trained professionals. You can get a free estimation for your vinyl siding installation and repair.

  70. SiPSAP said:

    SAP Business One connects your major areas, such as finance and accounting, inventory, and customer relationship management (CRM), to provide you a comprehensive view of your complete business. You may access important real-time information to make timely and well-informed decisions by collecting data in one single area.

  71. BSNS Consulting said:

    BSNS Consulting offers cutting-edge Services of Web Development, delivering seamless and visually stunning websites that reflect your brand’s identity. Our skilled web developers combine aesthetics with functionality, creating user-friendly platforms that drive traffic and conversions. Stay ahead in the digital landscape with our customised web development solutions.

  72. ERP DUBAI said:

    Great Article!!!

    Regards from

  73. TipTop Enrichtung said:

    An Elektrische Kosmetikliege is an electric cosmetic bed or treatment table used in beauty salons and spas. The electric functionality allows for easy adjustment of the bed’s height and incline, making it suitable for various beauty and cosmetic procedures.

  74. CarzillaUAE said:

    Thank you very much for this discussion. I read all the comments and really appreciate you all.

  75. KeenTeQTime said:

    Thanks for sharing such a useful information. KeenTeQ provides all major world-class time attendance system in Dubai
    . We deal in all major world-class Time Attendance Machines & door access control systems ranging from Honeywell, Bosch, Hikvision,Suprema, ZKteco, IrisID, Matrix and Idemia brands. So we can provide a system that will cater to your time and attendance needs.

  76. Pink Salt said:

    Learn how to cook like a pro with Himalayan pink salt. Learn how to use sprinkles best, what pairs well with them, and how to extract the maximum flavor from each one.

  77. Carzilla UAE said:

    Thank you very much for this discussion. I read all the comments and really appreciate you all.

  78. Ramzan Grocery said:

    Explore the diverse range of Ramzan grocery packages designed to cater to the nutritional needs of fasting individuals and families. From essential staples to special treats, discover packages that offer a holistic solution for the month.

  79. KeenTeQTurn said:

    This content was nice. Turnstile Gate Supplier in UAE

Leave a Reply