There are many myths about the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. The biggest myth is about the supposed difference between how consumers and business people, especially those whose products and services are highly technical, make buying decisions. It goes like this:
“Consumers are more impulsive. They go into a store or look online, feel a desire for something and consume it, even if they can’t afford it. A business or corporation buy differently. Data matters more. The buying process is slower and the channels for information are different.”
There are a number of erroneous assumptions about this lazy piece of thinking. First, all buyers share a brain that is structurally identical. Second, engineers, BI specialists and all B2B buyers are also consumers. Given these two facts, it is logical and indeed entirely accurate to say that, while consumer and commercial decisions appear to be made in very different ways, the mechanics are remarkably similar. Of course, if suppliers are trying to sell a highly technical product into a business, factors such as integration with existing systems and processes, supply chain analysis, projected ROI and lifetime value, will all be poured over in minute detail on endless spread sheets, documents and presentations. But, in the end, the decision will be influenced by the same cognitive biases that drive all buying decisions such as the availability of information, habitual behaviours, over-confidence in one’s own ability, aversion to difference and the inability to let go of cherished assumptions or admit to expensive mistakes. These are just a few of the many biases that distort our decisions and these irrational distortions are present and influential whether we are buying BI software or a new car.
The basic psychology of decision-making, common to B2B and B2C buyers, is often poorly understood by marketing professionals, which is why B2B marketers can miss opportunities for growth and lead generation using social media tools.
For example, the disconnect between how individuals use Facebook and how they believe their customers use it was shown in a recent study by Vanson Bourne that a third of respondents said they would not use Facebook in their own B2B marketing despite the fact that the same study showed that a quarter of B2B decision-makers used Facebook as their preferred channel for gathering information. If we overcome our biased belief in the difference between consumer and commercial decision-making strategies, Facebook would be seen as an obvious channel for B2B marketing simply because of its popularity.
Facebook Microtargeting allows you to review and refine the structure of your ads as knowledge of your most responsive prospects becomes increasingly clear. Facebook’s ability to refine your target audience by demographic profile, interests and behaviour and the number of people from all professional and commercial sectors who use the platform make it an essential tool for B2B marketing simply because you’ll find more B2B decision-makers on Facebook than anywhere else.
If you’re still not convinced then let’s do a quick experiment. If you are an engineering business specialising in Oil and Gas, which of these two statements is true and most likely to get the best return on marketing investment:
“The best way to get to my very technical buyers is to use publications and blogs associated with the Oil and Gas industry such as the Oil and Gas Journal, Oilweek Online, Society of Petroleum Engineers. World Oil and Pipeline Magazine.”
“The best way to get to my very technical buyers is to use Facebook.”
Out of context of this article, the majority of respondents chose option 1. And they were wrong. The reason Facebook is better is simply because there are more highly technical buyers in the Oil and Gas industry on Facebook. And marketing, in the end, is a numbers game. The problem, however, is that understanding numbers means understanding your biases and how they lead to fast, automatic and uncritical assumptions.
Dual Process Marketing (DPM), a proprietary methodology based on psychology, decision science and marketing, was developed to reduce the influence these biased assumptions have on marketing decisions. Beginning from the premise that marketing is a discipline based on probability not certainty, it is the most effective approach to strategic and tactical marketing that is most likely to generate a significant and sustainable return on investment.
You can find out why Dual Process Marketing is the ONLY Route to growth here.