The Convergence of B2C Consumer & B2B Industrial Marketing

Ed Marsh | Mar 10, 2018

Still think the rules are different since you're a "B2B" Company?

Introduction to SignalsFromTheOP


Guide to episode

  1. Is there a difference between B2C & B2B buying?
  2. Don't confuse the transaction itself with the buying experience
  3. B2B industrial manufacturers have to satisfy buyer expectations - and those are changing

Transcript follows

Hi, I'm Ed Marsh. Welcome to this episode of Signals From the OP, where I discuss issues that I believe should be of strategic importance to industrial manufacturers.

Today's topic is about the convergence of the B2C and B2B worlds.

It used to be that there were stores and there were factories. A B2C transaction happened as retail and a B2B transaction happened as procurement. You walk into a store as a consumer. Or, you'd open your Thomas Register, and summon three vendors as a business. Of course, that's changed.

Today as a consumer, when you have an idea, you're wondering about a problem, or a product, or looking for an answer, you pull out your phone, and you Google it.

And it's different as a business. When you have an idea or you're searching for help with a problem, or looking for a product, or looking for an answer to something, you open a tab in your browser, and you Google it.

All right, so it's a little bit tongue-in-cheek, obviously. The point is, there isn't a difference. Perhaps the device, but increasingly, that's not even a difference anymore. Here's the thing. The point is that the way we interact, research, and buy has completely converged. I mean, the transaction itself might be different in a B2B side of things as a consumer. It could be that we have a one-click, sort of an eCommerce transaction.

On the B2B side, there's probably a capex submission, and there's negotiation, there's a formal PO to be cut, but the process of how we research, think through our options, compare them, come up with a best solution, select the best vendor, or the best product, et cetera, has converged.

And the implications of that are enormous and, I think, discounted. Our consumer experiences are shaping our expectation for our business experiences. That's the bottom line. Mobile-friendly, ease of navigation, finding information, answers, the ability to interact with the person that's selling to us.

Tools like video, and search, and voice, all these trends are relevant because it's not the product, or the service, or the industry in which you're selling that determines the process. It's the buyer. And this is the expectation of buyers. Ourselves, when we're buyers, and our prospects when they're buyers. Today the buyer has been conditioned for that kind of experience and they value it.

Now you can ignore that at your peril and you can continue saying, "Oh, well. That's B2C, we're an industrial B2B business," but the point is that this convergence is happening, it's real, and it's unrelenting. If you can stop and actually think as the buyer, yourself, and what your expectations and experiences are, and try to compare those to what you offer as a business, I think you'll find that there's a dissonance.

If you enjoy this kind of a provocative look at topics, and trends, and issues that really have strategic implications to industrial manufacturers, I'd welcome you to subscribe to this video series, Signals From the OP. You can do that at I'm Ed Marsh. Thanks for joining me.