Go-to-Market strategy is the process of launching a new product or feature into the market. And when we’re talking about products, how can we not talk about the consumer? Who you’re selling to has an impact on every step in your Go-to-Market strategy from how you position the product to your, messaging, pricing and yes, even your sales strategy.
But what are the different types of audiences? And how do you change your strategy to suit them? That’s what we’ll be diving into today. 🤿
Keep reading to learn:
- What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?
- How to market for B2B vs B2C.
- How your audience affects your Go-to-Market strategy.
B2B and B2C, what does that even mean?
There are a lot of buzzwords in marketing, so let’s start here.
B2B means ‘Business to Business’, i.e. your business is selling to other businesses. Typically these will be SaaS (software as a service) companies that are selling software solutions to other businesses. Or they might be selling physical products, but at a wholesale level.
B2C, on the other hand, means ‘Business to Customer’. So this is traditional business-to-consumer selling. For example, when you buy groceries, Selena Gomez’s new cosmetics range, or IKEA furniture, you’re buying from a B2C company
What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?
B2B and B2C businesses have different priorities, sell different products, and therefore have different methods of selling.
B2B businesses have to prioritize ROI. It's not just about one-off purchases. You have to think about long-term relationships with your buyers, the lifetime value of each customer and how much money a decision will bring back to the company over the next one, three or five years.
And when you’re thinking about relationships between sellers and buyers, in B2B your customers will typically be doing a lot more research into you and your products before a decision is made. There won’t just be one decision maker, a series of people will have to agree before a purchase is made. And that means your business must hold up against a certain level of scrutiny.
This also affects how you sell. If a business is deciding to buy your product, they’ll expect to have conversations with yours. The more expensive a product, the more thought is given to whether a business will purchase the product or not. With B2B, products are rarely one size fits all. There’s room for custom packages and a negotiable price point, and as a result, the sales cycle is much longer.
As we’ve said, B2B businesses need to prioritize customer lifetime value and ROI, so it's worth putting the time in to establish relationships with your buyers and negotiate deals that’ll keep your customers coming back.
B2B companies, in particular B2B SaaS companies, often sell products that are suited to subscription-based models that keep customers coming back year after year.
But to keep them coming back, you have to make sure you keep making those products worth coming back for, because if you don’t your customers will look elsewhere.
B2C businesses, on the other hand, have to sell their product to hundreds and thousands of individuals and find a way to make their brand resonate with all of them. B2B businesses build partnerships, but that’s not really possible for B2C. So instead, you have to work on building a brand that customers resonate with.
Customers research products before they buy them, but they also make impulse purchases and purchases based on gut feelings rather than logic. B2C marketing has to appeal to the emotional side of the buyer. You have to find a tone of voice and a market position that appeals to what your buyers care about.
Individual buyers are far less willing to sit through a sales call, so B2C selling works better with self-serve models. Your marketing needs to be the thing that takes the buyer through the stages of the sales funnel, rather than a sales rep.
Business jargon will typically alienate B2C customers. Although people often assume it's best to be colloquial with B2C and formal with B2B, nothing’s ever that black and white. For example, if you’re selling life insurance,your message should be clear, accessible and professional.
B2B and B2C both have their strengths and weaknesses. They also have as much in common as they have setting them apart. For both markets, there are core principles you need to follow. The most important things will always be what your customers want, knowing what problems you need to solve and making sure your customers feel like they’re getting a good deal. Regardless of B2B or B2C, those principles will hold true.
How to market for B2B vs B2C
When it comes to B2B, your main marketing channels will be:
- Email campaigns.
- Sales calls.
- Freemium trials.
- White papers.
- Case studies.
- Demo calls.
And for B2C the most popular are:
- Social media content.
- Buyer guides.
- Product demos.
The social media question
Although social media is usually associated with B2C marketing, that doesn’t mean B2B companies should look the other way. But how can you effectively carry out social media marketing for B2B? How do you use social media to reach businesses, or balance your positioning and messaging with the style of content social platforms demand?
An important thing to remember is when you’re selling to businesses, you’re still selling to people. You have to win over more than one person for each purchase decision, but it’s still people that you’re convincing, not machines.
B2B businesses are still getting to grips with how they can use social media, but more CEOs and execs are on social media than ever, and they’re using it to find their next product solution. So, it's important to keep up with the way marketing is moving.
Learn more about social media for B2B launches here:
How your audience affects your Go-to-Market strategy
How you launch your products is directly influenced by who the products are for, and you’ll see that at every stage of your Go-to-Market strategy. So let’s break it down.
If you’re selling to a business, remember that they’re going to be doing a lot of research about you and asking questions about the future of your product. What features will you be adding? When will updates be rolled out? Is your product going to be the best solution for their problems? A product roadmap shows them where you’re headed and how you’ll continue to deliver value for them.
An individual buyer isn’t going to be researching your product plans years into the future, they’re more likely to be focused on the here and now. But they will want to know they’re getting a product that isn’t going to be outdated in the next year, so try and think ahead with your products and make sure you’re not launching something soon to be obsolete.
Positioning and messaging
When it comes to positioning, you need to think about what your customer needs out of the company they’re buying from. Do they want you to be authoritative? Climate-friendly? Tech-savvy? Regardless if you’re in B2B or B2C, your positioning boils down to one thing. What’s your customer's problem, and how are you going to solve it?
However, once you’ve got your positioning nailed down, how you distribute your messaging will be affected by whether you’re a B2B or B2C company. You’ll want to use different channels for different audiences. B2B businesses, as we’ve said, have to provide a lot of technical information, so they’re better off with marketing formats that make it easy to get a lot of information across. Webinars, white papers, sales calls, email campaigns, and so on.
Meanwhile, with B2C, you’re speaking to an individual and to a gut feeling that this product will make their lives better. You’re showing them the life they’ll have with your product and asking them to buy that fantasy. This is why the most effective channels for B2B marketing are social media, video content, and influencer marketing. But for the more discerning consumer, who is weighing up their options, buyer guides and digital/video brochures are also effective. Again, it’s important to remember the more a product costs, the more time a customer will spend on the decision. What it usually boils down to is value for money.
As always, bear your specific audience in mind. Social media is a broad spectrum and not every demographic is using every platform. Work out where your audience is and meet them there. For older demographics that may mean email campaigns are more effective than Instagram reels, for example.
For B2B businesses pricing can be more tailor-made for customers, especially if you’re using a sales-led Go-to-Market strategy where the sales team is getting a lot of face time with the prospective buyers. You can negotiate with the individual client and make sure you’re getting the most out of deals without alienating customers with a smaller budget.
For B2C, your pricing isn’t going to be negotiable, so you need to find other ways to be tactical. There’s a lot of psychology behind your pricing. Go too high and people will think it's a rip-off, go too low and you’ll be perceived as tacky or low quality.
We all love the occasional McDonalds, but no one thinks it’s good food. Meanwhile, in many restaurants the most expensive main will be the healthiest option because it's easy to rack up the price of something niche. It’s important to pick a price point that consolidates your positioning and feels worth it to your customers.
Read more about pricing strategies here:
Back in the good ol’ days you walked into the store, picked the product you wanted from the two or three options available, and that was that. Now, there are infinite options and we increasingly order online. And there are more and more products that have gone digital, can’t be held and are only ever seen on a screen. So, what is the best way to distribute your product?
In a fast-paced market, one of the most important things for all of us is convenience. If you’re in B2B, what’s the easiest way to get a product in the hands of your buyer? If you’re exclusively selling online, find ways for customers to try before they buy with demos, or offer trial periods (especially good for digital products).
A lot of B2B brands now use social media to share demo videos of their products, presented as ‘unboxings’, so customers can feel confident in what they’re getting. Plus, when B2B customers purchase products, they’ll usually want to solve problems for themselves rather than spend hours on hold, so make it easy for them to get answers to questions with FAQ pages. And if they do need help, chatbots or customer service teams that can be accessed via email are a lot more convenient for most people.
The key takeaways are to ensure information about products is easy to access, ordering and returning products is straightforward and customer service is effective.
But what about B2B?
Well, it does still come back to convenience. If you’re selling digital products in particular, it’s probably going to be online. Freemium models work well because clients can try the product out and then upgrade themselves to the premium option. Although if they do need a nudge in the right direction, making answers to questions and sales reps readily available is still key.
With B2B, we’re increasingly seeing distribution strategies that allow you to get more creative. For example, you can build a Go-to-Market ecosystem. In an ecosystem model, you team up with other businesses that provide services you can’t, but are complementary to your service. You build out an ‘ecosystem’ of services so that customers can find all the parts they need in one neat package rather than having to piece solutions together for themselves.
This is far more convenient for the customer, and also gives you a competitive edge in terms of pricing if you can offer bundle deals.
Learn more about ecosystem Go-to-Market in the GTM Motions playbook:
Customer service is also a big part of B2B distribution, although in this context it's more commonly referred to as a customer success function. B2B products are typically more complex and technical than B2C, so for customers to get the most value out of them they’ll need to be onboarded.
If someone buys an iPhone, you can pretty much leave them to figure it out on their own. And if they get stuck, they’ll just pester the nearest Gen Z family member to set it up for them. If you’re selling a complicated SaaS product that’s being rolled out across a whole company, that probably won’t cut it.
Having a customer success team carrying out an onboarding strategy, monitoring retention and churn and checking in on customer satisfaction at pinch points (like when a subscription needs renewing) is going to be crucial for most B2B customers. As we’ve said, B2B businesses tend to build relationships with clients when they’re negotiating on price and product offerings. To maximize customer lifetime value, that relationship has to continue into the distribution and customer success stages of Go-to-Market.
To sum up
When it comes to B2B vs B2C Go-to-Market, you’ll probably find as many similarities as you will differences. When you break it down to basics, each customer will have different needs, problems and priorities. That’s especially clear when you group them as B2B and B2C.
But the core values of the customer, wanting to get a fair deal, convenient solutions, accessible information and a seller they can trust, are true of pretty much anyone. Whichever market you’re catering to with your Go-to-Market strategy, the most important questions to ask yourself are:
- What does this customer want?
- How do I solve their problem?
Ready to have your say on Go-to-Market salaries?
Go-to-Market is the backbone of so many businesses, but Go-to-Market job titles are still new on the scene.
That’s why we’ve set out to find out what the GTM job market looks like, how much you can expect to be paid and what it actually means to work in Go-to-Market.
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