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What Are the Differences Between B2C and B2B Content Marketing?

by Trenton Reed   |   Jun 12, 2019

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about acquisition marketing. It mentioned how it’s becoming increasingly expensive to reach consumers. It also claimed that effective content creation helps brands attract the attention of intended audiences and guide them to relevant webpages. And that half of buyers still view 3-5 pieces of content before interfacing with sales.

Okay, so content marketing is still relevant. And I could throw marketing stats at you all day (like the fact that marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to see positive ROI!).

But how can teams use content marketing to their advantage?

First, it’s important to remember that each organization is different. Your target audience depends on your service and product offerings. While there are exceptions to every rule (I’m thinking of the B2B2C ecommerce model, in which businesses reach new consumers by partnering with other businesses), most companies can be split into one of two categories:

  • B2C (business to consumer)
  • B2B (business to business)

As I discussed last week, the buying activities and sales cycles of B2C and B2C businesses are different. While B2C sales involves individual buyers, B2B purchases are generally made with the greater good of a company in mind. Individuals may be motivated by quality of life; businesses make purchases based on things like ROI and profitability.

It’s true that these audiences are inherently dissimilar. And knowing the variances is important. But the differences behind B2B and B2C copywriting are much more subtle. Let’s review.

B2C writing is all about reaching individual consumers.

One of the biggest differentiators of B2C writing is that you’re speaking directly to buyers. Generally, there’s no arbiter influencing purchases. Buyers are relying on a combination of emotions, needs, and wants—so many will tell you that emotions are the catalyst of B2C copywriting. Pull at the heartstrings of your audience. Rely on poignant, relatable verbs. Make the writing personal. And use a conversational tone if you must.

Sincerity also goes a long way in B2C copywriting. Don’t use this type of selling as an excuse to mislead and lie to your audience. You want buyers to feel good, not manipulated, about making a purchase. These consumers often desire a specific solution to a problem. And by understanding what makes your buyers tick, you can cater your products and services—and content marketing efforts—around these problems.

B2B organizations face unique roadblocks, too, right?

Correct. Much like individual consumers, businesses have a variety of challenges. But from driving revenue to increasing customers, these problems are often much more multifaceted. And they often involve multiple stakeholders.

Because there’s often more than one decision-maker involved, the buying cycle in B2B sales is longer than in B2C. Businesses often take more time to make decisions, as they must envision your product within a greater ecosystem. Whereas consumer goods may fulfill an immediate need, B2B product offerings may impact a business’ productivity or efficiency.

Therefore, B2B writing should be focused on helping an organization accomplish a shared goal.

This is done by providing the right people with the right information—be it product specs or marketing collateral. This requires writers to market the same product to different stakeholders. And it means leveraging the right channel and advertising avenues. For example, a twenty-something marketing manager and a Baby Boomer CFO probably prefer different types of messaging. The former may be used to more informal, social media ads; the latter may favor more professional email communication.

There are differences between B2C and B2B copywriting.

But the similarities are almost more important.

Ultimately, it’s essential to remember that you’re writing for people. Whether your end user is someone making decisions on behalf of a larger organization, or an individual consumer making a purchase, it’s important to understand them as people. Just because B2B purchasers are representing a larger organization, that doesn’t mean they’re devoid of emotion. Businesses are still drawn to effective copywriting.

On the other side of the coin, both audiences are susceptible to ad fatigue. If consumers dislike your copy—or read between the lines—they may ignore your ads. Likewise, if your blog content doesn’t address their needs, it may never be read in the first place.

Content may also be ignored by the search engines.

Content that doesn’t fulfill a specific goal may not only go unnoticed, it risks penalization. As I've mentioned, Google announced in February that it was increasing its efforts to combat misinformation. By giving preference to sites with high levels of expertise, authority and trustworthiness—a ranking factor know in the industry as E-A-T—the search giant has placed even more emphasis on content that’s useful and relevant to end users.

Knowing your audience is key—whether you’re writing for B2C or B2B readers.

Building personas can help you bridge the gap between writing for businesses and individuals. It can also help breakdown complex organizations into more digestible components. Humanizing your end users can help illustrate where different stakeholders are in their buyer’s journey—whether that means the awareness, consideration, or interest stage.

Approaching businesses as a group of individuals with unique goals enables you to better understand a company's collective needs. This can help you create pieces of content that address these roadblocks. In doing so, you’ll be able to create content and ads that resonates with the goals of real end users.

portrait of Trenton Reed

Trenton Reed

Trenton joined the Workshop Digital team in January 2019. After earning his B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, he moved to Denver, where he explored the Rocky Mountains and built a writing career that spanned the digital marketing, advertising, and journalism realms. Since relocating back to Richmond in late 2017, Trenton has freelanced with local agencies and national nonprofits. As our in-house writer, he’s in charge of maintaining our brand voice across all channels.