In marketing there are commonly two very distinct schools, B2B and B2C. For the most part, everyone thinks that these schools are completely different.  In their defense, there are vast differences in advertising channels, sales tactics, and the length of the sales cycle.

  • Advertising Channels – Facebook might be a great avenue in B2C, for B2B.. a lot  of companies block Social Media. Which you could imagine, makes it tough to receive ads.
  • Sales tactics – Spontaneous purchases / impulse purchases (or for me putting a Mr. Goodbar in the point of sale counter), in B2B you have explain yourself to your boss. “Yeah sorry Bossman, decided to buy a 5lb bag of glitter with the weekly office supplies.. at the time.. I felt like our office could use some pizzazz!!”
  • Longer sales cycles – Of course the sales cycle is longer, you are dealing with a group of humans.. not a single person. Can you remember a time when you tried to go out to lunch with a group of coworkers? You throw out an idea that is combated by a variety of different schedules, eating habits, and objections.. By the time there is a decision you are more excited to to reach an agreement than eating.


But even after all these differences,  B2B is just a group of consumers.

We are all consumers and just because we go to a job, we don’t stop being a consumer. We still hold keep our preferences, our needs, and our wants – we just typically start thinking about the needs and wants of an organization over our own during the 9-5.

And because of these preferences from our personal life, B2C trends typically tend to sneak into and shape B2B behaviors. A great B2B marketer therefore should not look for a completely new idea to transform B2B, but instead dive into current or upcoming B2C trends and see how they can be applied to their business processes. If this is executed in a rather short time-frame, B2B businesses will find themselves light years ahead of the competition.

To drive this concept home, here are some large areas that B2B adopted WAY late, but are now a staple in B2B.


B2B is typically referred to as the slow giant, a giant in buying power.. but it tends to go at snail’s pace.

B2B eCommerce is an area that has proven itself as the avenue for growth. Its revenues are increasing at 2-times the speed of B2C and are projected to hit 6.7 Trillion in sales by the end of 2020.. it is hard to think that any business does not believe e-Commerce is the future of B2B purchasing.

Yet believe me people still do! See B2B for the longest time has been about personal relationships and face-to-face ordering. Originally when eCommerce started in B2C, B2B was quick to push it aside thinking that it would never fit. If they would have implemented at the same time as B2C they would have been correct. This drastic of a change would have come with a massive learning curve, that is why it is best to FOLLOW B2C but not lead.

By following B2C trends, B2B companies can grow sales through new technologies because it is the new preference of buyers, but they do not have to train new buyers because they use it in their consumer purchasing.

Companies like Grainger quickly realized the online advantage and popularity and adopted e-Commerce into their sales strategy. It became a cost efficient way to grow their distribution and new customer acquisition. Their timely integration of this technology led them to dramatic growth and an increase in market-share (especially for online sales). Although many companies are now starting to implement an online store, very few have the power to take market share, unless your Amazon Business ($8.6 billion in sales first year released).

Free and/or Fast Shipping

Remember years ago when Amazon started doing free shipping? Everyone thought they were utterly insane and that it made their margins too thin. Well they clearly proved us wrong, they showed how a great customer experience can grow a business exponentially in no time.

Although, now because consumers are use to it from Amazon, every other online retailer must follow suit to remain competitive.

This has also trickled into B2B, with the evolution of eCommerce there has been a smaller emphasis on one-to-one relationships and more on the experience of buying. This explains why so many B2B eCommerce sites fail!

(Not a B2B site.. but you get the point)

Companies launch these prehistoric ill designed websites and say, “Customers you can now order online!” but they never seem to ask themselves what their competitive advantage is after launching. With the online store eliminating the need for the one-to-one relationship there is no emotional connection to your brand outside of it’s online customer experience. Fast and/or free shipping is a great way to remain competitive and offer that customer experience consumers crave.


I can guarantee that either you are or you know a friend that is utterly loyal to a brand. The one brand that pops into my head is Apple.

They have a cult following that if they see you with an Android they will almost immediately become offended. They just can’t comprehend why someone would ever buy something that was not Apple. The best part about it, is that they typically can not say one thing that makes an iPhone better on a technical or feature based standpoint. But the one thing that is clear, they are emotionally attached.

For a long time emotional selling that creates a loyal consumer base was largely seen as only a B2C tactic. B2B was seen as the opposite, a completely logical and unemotional purchasing behavior.

But that is far from the truth.

I can say this because I am a member of a VERY loyal B2B consumer base, HubSpot. I remember attending Inbound and hearing the story about how HubSpot grew to where it is now. It gave me hope, the values of HubSpot directly aligned with the values of my company and personal beliefs.

How do I know I am emotionally attached? I really can’t tell you how Hubspot Marketing Automation differs from Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, SharpSpring, etc. because truly I do not care, in my eyes there is only one marketing automation platform.

B2B businesses need to position themselves to take advantage of this B2C tactic, yes features, benefits, and product specs matter, but if you can align your business values with your target market’s – your competition begins to disappear.

Other areas B2B followed

When writing this article. Here at this exact point in typing I noticed the word count and thought, TL;DR – so I sparknote’d the rest below. Please let me know if you have any questions as I am happy to explain. Also have some to add? leave it in the comments.

  • Social Proof Selling – Using reviews to increase conversion rates by decreasing perceived risk.
  • Persona Marketing – In-depth demographics and psycho-graphics to speak directly to decision makers.
  • Content & Social Media Marketing – Generating shareable content to reach your audience.
  • Chatbots – Automated customer service and self service technology.


B2B and B2C marketing are not as different as we commonly make them out to be. Purchasing decisions are still coming down to individual(s) that have consumer preferences. In order for a B2B marketer to grow with the times, they should look at the B2C market now and analyze current trends and ask a couple questions:

  1. Will this trend be full adopted by the general public?
  2. If it is, how will it look in B2B and how can I prepare my business for it?

Areas that this might fit:

  1. Augmented reality or virtual reality – Help understand complex products, or online buying if you can witness a product remotely
  2. Cryptocurrency – becoming more widely used as a B2B payment, especially in an international setting.

B2C just subscribed a minute ago.

Time to follow.

Throughout my blogs you will undoubtedly hear me preach the need for automation across all areas of marketing as well as any operation. Yet, there are negatives to automation.

Look at your inbox right now (I know you won’t but at least imagine it?) How many of your emails are coming from real people? How many emails do you receive that you are emotionally attached to?

Commonly it is a very small percentage. Automated messages (especially in email) are so easy to create and are making it incredibly easy for marketers to reach an enormous amount of prospects in one send.

But at what cost?

Physical cost.. almost nothing. Email still remains one of the most cost effective mediums in marketing…

The cost of loyalty and attachment to a brand is the cost. They are costing companies more and more each year.

Throughout the digital transformation movement we have been looking for ways to automate the processes across all departments. Although in doing so we have also deteriorated the one-on-one relationships that were typically so important to make a sale.

On the plus side, the cost of acquiring customers has dropped but on the negative side, we are seeing the public lose their loyalty for brands more and more each year.

This is because we are no longer aiming to build a relationship, we are looking to push promotions, sales, and nurture campaigns all through automated messaging.

The truth is, every consumer knows what these emails look like, they have become numb to them and they tend to blend together in your inbox. At no point does someone feel like they are special to that brand in a mass email, because they always know that the email was sent to more than just them.

Many emails have attempted to move to plain text to solves this, but truly it is fooling no one, especially when the unsubscribe button is at the bottom.

Anyways, because of this tactic, consumers and businesses do not have the emotional connection with one particular brand, instead they are moving from brand to brand based on whatever variable means the most to them (this is commonly coming down to price).

This does not mean that you your business should shut down your automated messaging or your large email sends (they are most likely generating a positive ROI), but it does mean that you should be looking into initiatives to delight your customers, create one-on-one relationships, and drive emotion.

In a small business with limited resources it can be tough to build this one-on-one relationship effectively, here are a couple:


1. Personalization to the extreme

Every company is dropping in your contact details from a CRM into mass email cadences. These personalizations do wonders for open rates and click rates, but the truth is they nearly do nothing for loyalty.

In order to really build loyalty you need to show information that goes past the conventional informational plug-ins.

This type of information is typically something that you learned from a discussion and that is commonly a personal trait rather than a company trait. Such as; where you went to school, planned or previous vacation spots, etc. by referring back to these non-typical pieces of information, you prove that an individual is listening and a relationship is able to be established.

This can be easily done with just listening to your customers/prospects and maintaining your CRM. If you know your way around marketing automation, it is very easy to put in a workflow. (Automating works if nobody knows)


2. Presents / rewards (action based)

It feels like everyone has a loyalty program these days. Although do they really drive loyalty? I personally believe they only eliminate even competition but not truly create loyalty.

For example, I loved Delta Airlines. Even before being in their reward club, I preferred their service over any other airline. Even though they are giving me perks to fly with them, I am still cost sensitive. I will happily choose Southwest Airlines if they come in at a lower price.

My point here is that when a rewards program offers the sames incentives to everyone, you can strengthen the preference to use the product, but you do not gain die hard loyalty.

Building Die Hard loyalty takes one-on-one behavior. This can be easily done by sending gifts. Not the typically Holiday gifts companies send “Happy holidays from ABC Company” – that’s not personal at all.

Hungry? Here is the link.

Instead sending them gifts for things then never expected. Some of these events could be; hitting milestones that were not disclosed prior, big news that happened to their company (Google alerts can help you with finding those), promotions, etc.

By catching people by surprise with gifts shows them there is a one-on-one relationship and that they are far more than a typical customer.


3. Putting a face to a product

Think about your shopping experience, how often is another human involved. If you say “frequently” then one of us is shopping wrong.

eCommerce and large bx stores have made the customer service part of buying only there when you need it. Is this bad? Not for me. I wear giant head phones when I shop for a reason.

On a negative side, it makes it really tough to build an emotional connection. You never interact with a human, meaning whatever buy is just a product, which can most likely be found in numerous locations (AKA your competitors)

In an eCommerce setting we have noticed a huge growth in chatbots for this reason (seriously did Drift just become a massive company overnight?) But that is not enough.

Look to putting an actual human face to the experience of buying. Even better the same human face!

Through today’s marketing platforms you can assign a customer to a current employee and make that employee the name that sends emails, the face that is on chat, the one that is on a note in a shipment, etc. By building that one-on-one experience, you can drive a feeling of being a partnership, rather than just a product?

Did I miss other ways to get up in peoples’ personal space? Let me know in the comments below!

Let’s establish this one-on-one relationship

Starting with your email.

After a large rainstorm, it became very evident that my gutters were no longer doing what they were intended to do.

Unless water spilling over the edge of the gutters and filling a 5-gallon bucket like it was a shot glass is normal.

I did what every rational person would do, jammed a long 2×4 to raise the gutter up to stop the leak.. and it worked! Well, in that specific location.

As great of a solution that was, I decided maybe it would be better to get a professional to do a more “Long-term” fix.

I called a specialized gutter company to give me a quote,  the salesperson arrived on time and was incredibly kind.

He went around the house for an hour and a half measuring stuff and looking at his tablet in a state of confusion, like he was handling some really tough trigonometry.

Eventually, the numbers must have come together and he came to me with the quote.

The cost of the job was definitely higher than I was expecting, especially since I looked up the cost of materials at Home Depot.

After the sticker shock, he asked if he could do a couple more measurements. Whatever he found must have been good, because he came back with a cost that was $200 more than the original quote.

Oddly enough, he did not explain the reasoning for the sudden price hike, and yet he was shocked when I did not want to buy immediately.

The thing is when his pricing jumped for no reason, I moved from thinking that this company was calculating labor and materials to give me a standard price, to thinking –

he is just trying to rip me off.

Because of his inability to explain the pricing structure, he lost any chance of a sale due to my newly found distrust in him and his company.

What does this mean for your business?

Be upfront with your pricing, and your customers will trust you more and buy from you more.


How to build trust through Price Transparency

To build trust with your buyers you must be clear about what your pricing is, and if it is a service, how the price is calculated.

For B2C, this comes as no shocker. Although for B2B, the typical response is:

Trust me, I get it! B2B is complicated, it involves a lot of variables, volume pricing, service tiers, etc.

For this reason, many businesses have said it is not possible for them to show pricing to the general public, and their exact reasoning is most likely one of these:


1. We do not want competitors to see our pricing

In the past years, I have researched thousands of B2B eCommerce sites from a variety of industries and I am always shocked to see how many of them choose either:

A. Lock their site from the general public; or

B. Hide pricing from non-logged in visitors.

This behavior is very common in heavily competitive markets that are selling very similar goods.

Their focus relies so heavily on competitive pricing for their current customers, that they do not offer pricing to visitors on their site.


Sadly, the main reason most people go to eCommerce sites is to find something they have an immediate need for, and demand a streamlined digital commerce experience that will allow them to accomplish that.

By not showing pricing, you have added a lot of friction to the sales process that will most likely end up with the prospect leaving the site and purchasing from a competitor that offers a function website for their needs.

So what is the best tactic?

Show standard pricing for a single product purchase, if you wish to encourage larger orders from new buyers, include volume pricing.

On top of that, include a large call-to-action mentioning lower prices can be accomplished through an established customer account to encourage repeat purchases and more buyer savings.


2. Our pricing is too complicated

Pricing is not always straightforward and exact, but this is not an excuse to not be transparent.

Like the gutter explanation told previously in the blog, my issue with the company was not based on the price, but the fact that the price seemed to be randomly chosen out of a hat and had no explained reasoning.

For those companies that have these complex pricing structures, the best thing to do is honest on how your pricing structure is equated.

So what is the best tactic?

Show how you quote your customers.

Do not focus on how to be exact, but focus on the variables that play a role in your pricing, these could be: cost of labor, goods, customer service, etc.

You just need something that can help your prospects generate a pricing range for your offer.

Whatever these costs are, they should be clearly shown on your website. Events that expose customer later in the sales process to hidden fees or unexpected costs will be a sure cause for distrust.


3. Not displaying pricing is a lead generation tactic

Commonly businesses feel like mystery is a great tactic for lead generation. I am not one to judge, I have created a lot of content that are questions to provoke engagement and form submissions.


This tactic is excellent for content marketing, but not for your business’s pricing.

Recently, I have experienced this tactic on the Dun & Bradstreet website (

I found myself wandering around their site looking for any identification of the pricing, but I did not find anything!

So what do I do? I go back to Google and search for a website that is not to give me their pricing.

As you can imagine, I stumble upon a lot of negative reviews, a very complicated outdated pricing sheet, and their competitor Experian.

Due to the fact that can not tell me ANYTHING about their pricing structure, I have immediately perceived them as a company that intends to charge me as much as possible.

This experience led to me losing all trust in Dunn and Bradstreet, and if a time to purchase this service arose, it would lead me to immediately purchase from Experian instead without thinking twice.

So what’s the best tactic?

Be upfront with your pricing, but you can leave a small hint of mystery for lead generation.

If you have a complicated pricing structure, explain it to your best ability, but use a CTA of “Contact Us for a Quote” that will be more precise based on the customer’s inputs.

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