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What are the key differences between b2b and b2c product marketing?

4 Answers
Brianne Shally
Brianne Shally
Nextdoor Ex-Head of Product MarketingJanuary 13
  • B2B and B2C are both H2H (human to human) marketing at the end of the day. I’ve seen folks try to say there's a strong distinction and to ‘pick a lane’. I’m of the mindset that B2B and B2C are more similar than different. I’ve found my experience in B2B especially, in demand gen, has helped me with B2C thinking through app store activations and vice versa. 
  • That said, here’s the minor nuances that I’m oversimplifying: 
    • Sales Enablement: You must work closely with the Sales team to ensure they are prepared with a deep understanding of the marketplace, personas, buying process, positioning, and product. Also, Sales is a great channel to test messaging and gain customer feedback.  
    • Target Audience: In B2B there are usually multiple personas in the decision making process, while B2C is usually just one person, though there are influencers in B2C.
    • Sales as an input: Sales is a great channel to test and iterate on messaging. For example, consider your top sales rep. They have already iterated and optimized the messaging more than an a/b test. (ok, maybe not that much, but you get my point). Partner with these reps to test your hypotheses and iterate. Also, Sales is an input for voice of customer and product input. Leverage Sales, win/loss reports, and customer calls to capture the top themes for product development.
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Aneri Shah
Aneri Shah
Ethos Head of Marketing, B2BFebruary 17

Having worked across both, the key differences in my mind fall into 2 key categories: 1) ability to get customer insights, 2) role in the GTM motion.

1. Customer insights - In B2B, it's relatively easy to get on a customer call and get deep insights from some engaged customers. There are also certain customers (e.g. enterprise clients) whose feedback it's easy to skew towards as they contribute disproportionately high revenue. In B2C, you need to get feedback at scale, which is better done through user research, and you need to ensure the users you survey/interview are more representative of your whole customer base. In B2B, I've found that PMM's role in gathering and surfacing customer insights is stronger, whereas in B2C, you're more likely to rely on your Marketing Insights/User Research partners. 

2. Role in GTM - The key difference here is having a Sales or Partnerships team in B2B, versus usually using more scaled marketing tactics in B2C. This means a PMM's role will shift closer to one or the other - e.g. in B2B, you spend more time on enablement and ensuring that these teams can take your messaging and communicate it, whereas in B2C, you work more closely with in-product and scaled messaging channels to share your messaging. The messaging itself varies significantly too - consumer messaging is focused on being concise, clearly articulating benefits, and, often, driving immediate action, whereas business-focused messaging must consider all client scenarios, whether a product is solving their exact needs, edge cases and specific requests. Tactically - my messaging docs in B2B end up being 4-5x longer than those when I was in B2C! 

857 Views
Lara McCaskill
Lara McCaskill
Atlassian Principal Product Marketing ManagerJanuary 16

Three words come top of mind for this one: Sales, Enablement and Ops. In a B2B company, you often have 2 (or even more) customers: Sales and Buyers. Sales can be a wealth of information and they are typically highly motivated ($$$$) to get their problems solved and are never short of providing input and feedback to Product Marketing. This can also be challenging to understand what Sales wants versus what actually address Buyer needs. Working with Sales also involves some type Sales enablement function. I've seen roles where PMM also does the enablement piece of this, however I think that really depends on the size of the sales force, type of product and how big the PMM team is. In my experience, it's most effective for PMM and Sales Enablement to partner closely together, but they are two distinct functions. Finally, there may be an Ops enablement function involved and they can be a primary stakeholder and feedback contributor, depending on the nature of the business. 

In B2C, the challenge is to market to consumers and they are fickle! Feedback can be hard to gather, especially from prospective customers. This is where customer research and insights are super critical for the PMM function. Brand marketing and creative also play a heavier role here and launch strategies will have different tactics involving paid media versus B2B likely involves more blog posts and events. 

1369 Views
Tracy Montour
Tracy Montour
HiredScore Head of Product MarketingJuly 27

Great question! The biggest difference is in the sales cycle and buying process, but it really depends on who the audience is. If a B2B SaaS company is targeting SMBs and is product-led, it is much more similar to a B2C product marketing experience. Where I have seen the biggest difference is in the customer size/type. Working with B2B enterprise SaaS requires a completely different skillset to enable a different and more personalized type of sale. 

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