B2B vs B2C: is there a fundamental difference?
In a B2C scenario, it seems like to me, patience is not a virtue. The customer does not take long to decide and the marketer is also interested in getting an instant nod as in a yes or no. Most importantly, the sales cycle is short and feedback in terms of what works and what does not is obtained in terms of what sells and what does not.
In a B2B scenario, the cycle is long and many decision makers play a role. Each have their own “wins” and I most recently talked about it in “Cover your bases in B2B marketing”. While in both B2B and B2C the customer needs to cross the gamut of steps from low awareness to awareness, interest and so on leading to purchase and adoption which hopefully leads to repeat buys and brand loyalty, I think the B2B marketer invests a lot more post-purchase, especially if you are selling high involvement capital goods. Also, the B2B marketer understands that it is a long haul and invests accordingly. In a B2C setting, it seems the actual sale is the only act the marketer is measured by.
In a B2B setting, you have “User Groups”- both face to face and online, forums for sharing ideas, support and product improvement ideas. The higher the cost of the product, the higher the risk and more the need for reassurance from knowing “I am not the only user; there are others out there”. This involvement with the customer in all stages is what separates the B2B marketing from B2C marketing, as is practiced today.
I have seen sporadic attempts in involving end-customers in creating user groups in B2C as well. Cooking utensils makers like those making pressure cookers or microwave ovens hold cooking competitions, Camlin sponsors art competition among students in schools and liquor brands sponsor events teaching cocktail mixing to corporates and individuals. I think we will see more and more such innovations powered by the internet going forward.