When it comes to marketing to B2B buyers, many of the elements considered along the content creation process remain similar to the B2C world. Primarily, there’s a clearly labeled buyer’s journey map covering the basics: awareness, consideration and conversion.
Even the methods for progressing a buyer from one stage to the next prove familiar. As Gartner discusses, B2B buyers turn to digital channels at all stages of their buying journey. No longer is the sales process a function of digital first, sales rep later. The research and information-seeking process remain constant, making content produced for those at the point of conversion just as important as what’s created to drive awareness.
All of this is not to say that, as a content marketer, you shouldn’t draw some lines in the sand between the two. On the contrary, you must ask, what are the differences between B2B and B2C buying behaviors?
It’s these differences in buying behaviors that’ll most clearly define your approach.
A Longer Buying Cycle
When thinking about what makes a B2B buyer the right one in relation to your business, there are a number of factors you can control in marketing to them. What you can’t always control, however, is the length of the sales cycle. B2B customers must define pain points, compare you against competitors and/or seek to gain approval from upper management.
For B2B marketers, the length of time between awareness and conversion can be a lengthy one. Depending on the product, cost and industry, the selling process could last anywhere from 6-12 months. Compare that to B2C consumers, who can be prone to impulse buys, and it’s fair to say that how these two types of buyer relationships are nurtured can vary greatly.
More Emphasis on Research
The more money spent on a product and/or solution, the more time a consumer is likely to spend researching pros and cons. The same could even be said about those paralyzed by too many choices.
As a whole, though, the emphasis placed on budget for B2B buyers—in addition to any internal pressures—force them to gather and intelligently report back on their findings. B2B buying behaviors are centered around not just their own decision to buy, but those of their team. It’s a choice that has personal and collective consequences if made without due diligence.
Greater Consideration for ROI
Snowballing off the aforementioned point, this post-purchase anxiety felt by many B2B buyers leads them to consider a purchase’s contribution to ROI more often than B2C buyers. This isn’t to say that as a consumer, you wouldn’t weigh the future impact when buying, say, a car. Naturally, you’re bound to ask forward-thinking questions like, how much money will this save me on gas? Will this car grow with my family? What kind of repairs will it require?
Of course, these types of long-term considerations come into play alongside B2C buying behaviors. But overall, they’re more commonly seen across the board for those in the B2B space, where buyers are hungry for ways to improve processes and contribute to business success.
Compelled by a Mix of Logic and Explanation
While B2B buyers may respond to technical specs and jargon, they’re by no means robotic. These consumers make personal purchases that defy their workplace buying behaviors and can be driven to click Buy based on emotion.
With this in mind, B2B and B2C buying behaviors don’t differ because of the fact that one can sell its product with adorable puppy love stories, and the other can’t. B2B marketers can indeed harness that same level of creativity and storytelling emotion in their own content efforts.
In their case, though, it’s simply a matter of remaining balanced between the two: logic and emotion. You must speak to frustrations, hopefulness and anxieties in a way that can both foster loyalty on behalf of the buyer while remaining translatable to stakeholders in upper management.
As a B2B marketer, what are some of your biggest frustrations with content created for your customers? Let us know in the comments below.