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. Amazon.com, ebay.com and overstock.com 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...
References: B2B vs. B2C marketing. (2005, April). MarketingProfs, LLC website. Retrieved on August 25, 2005 from http://www.marketingprofs.com/ea/qst_question.asp?qstid=1141.
Bly, R.W. (n.d.). B2B and B2C marketing: seven differences. Retrieved on August 25, 2005 from http://www.pictoucountyconnects.com/?At+Work/Business+Articles/B2B+and+
Business-to-consumer e-commerce. (2001). Center for Virtual Organization and Commerce: Louisianna State University website. Retrieved on August 25, 2005 from http://projects.bus.lsu.edu/independent_study/vdhing1/b2c/.
Constantinides, E. (2005). 4S web marketing mix. 12Manage.com website. Retrieved on August 26, 2005 from http://www.12manage.com/methods_constantinides_4s_web_
Essentials of value-based B2B marketing. (n.d.) Management Centre Europe 's website. Retrieved on August 25, 2005 from http://www.mce.be/events/print.php?id
Minett, S. (2001). B2B marketing: A radically different approach for business-to-business marketers. Indiana: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
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