Convergence of B2B and B2C

There was time not too long ago when B2C versus B2B, from a recruiting perspective, were viewed as distinctly different disciplines requiring totally different skill sets. One was a cat, one was a dog. It was a rare occurrence when I placed someone with almost all B2C background into a strictly B2B role. But B2B employers are getting warmer to the idea of hiring a marketer even if that marketer is resume-heavier in BtoC, and when you think about it, it’s really a natural evolution. The people who are buyers in the B2B world are also ordinary every day consumers, and as well as know, consumer expectations have changed.  While B2C and B2B buying objectives may differ, social, mobile, cloud, and analytics are playing very important roles in how companies market their products to other businesses.  For B2B employers looking to hire digital marketing leaders- which is one of the most common searches I’m asked to conduct- B2C’ers can bring relevant and valuable experience to the table. They come pre-packaged with the experience and know-how to engage and develop meaningful relationships with with customers, and build online brands.

There are other benefits, too:

B2C’ers, by their very nature, are very innovative. Legacy B2B’ers are trying to figure out how to adapt to the digital age. This requires an entirely new way of thinking about their customers, and along with that, new set of marketing skills is required. B2C’ers have been doing this since the first days of Amazon and eBay. B2C’s are also expert at turning data into actionable insights. I hear it all of the time from B2B owners: “We have tons of data, we’re just not doing enough with it.”  Top notch B2C’ers are experts are turning lots of data into lots of dollars.

Focusing on the customer experience.  This is a challenge, if not flat out foreign, to many legacy B2B businesses where marketing traditionally has been primarily a support function for sales. But as B2C’ers know so well, the customer experience goes far beyond the actual sales transaction. Today’s B2B’ers must design rich experiences to make sure customers are getting the most functionality and use out of the products they buy. Chaulk up another one for the B2C’er.

Being where the customer is. Today’s buyers are often millennials who view the face-to-face sales pitch as just the beginning of a longer journey. Many grew up with the internet- they look for product information online, they view videos on YouTube and other platforms, they interact with their peers on social channels, and they use mobile devices anywhere, anytime. B2B marketers need to be where the buyers are. That’s what B2C marketers do.

The lines may be blurring but they haven’t gone away, and in fact, the differences in B2C and B2B are many: B2B is characterized by a longer decision-making process, there are often more decision makers involved, price points are often higher, the lead pool is smaller, and of course business products can be significantly more complex and technical, often custom-developed and manufactured for a specific customer application. But I’ve recently placed a few B2C’ers into B2B roles who came from more complex, multichannel and multifaceted consumer environments. Not only have they made the transition, it’s almost as if they had been doing B2B all along.