Some marketers have argued that writing to a business audience is just like writing to a consumer audience. Since businesses can’t make buying decisions—only the people that run them can—the two audiences are virtually indistinguishable.
I’ll grant that you’ll find a lot of similarities between business-to-business and business-to-consumer audiences: they’re both in a hurry and give you limited time to make a sale, they’re both motivated by products and services that benefit them personally, and they’re both looking for reasons to justify major purchases.
But it’s the differences, not the similarities, that shape the way a copywriter appeals to business and consumer audiences. You should hire one that makes the distinction.
B2B & B2C Are Not the Same
Major differences between the two audiences boil down to discrepancies in buying behavior.
[twocol_one]Business to Business (B2B)
- Spending the company’s money
- Make buying decisions as a group
- More logical
- More methodical[/twocol_one]
[twocol_one_last]Business to Consumer (B2C)
- Spending their own money
- Make buying decisions alone
- More emotional
- More impulsive
Whose money’s being spent?
It’s not the same is it? Spending someone else’s money versus spending your own? While employees might (emphasis on the might) feel obligated to be good stewards of their company’s money, it’s not likely they’ll feel any separation anxiety when the check’s written. If you’re selling to a soloproneur or an executive who’s built the business from the ground up? Well, that might be your exception to the rule.
Who’s making the final decision?
Selling to a consumer is typically a one-on-one conversation. Your copy should reflect that, reaching individuals on a personal level. Even when the buying decision is shared between two heads of household, you’ll often find that convincing one is all it takes. That person will make your case to the second individual for you.
By contrast, business purchases are a group effort. You have to win more people over, possibly customizing messages for each stakeholder. The sales director will want different things from the new teleconferencing software than the HR manager, and it’s the copywriter’s job to find a way to win them both—even if it means creating multiple sales sheets, video scripts or emails.
What emotional buttons should you push?
You can’t sell cubicles to a sales committee with Sarah McLachlan, her dog, and a sad ballad. Sadness, anger, empathy, joy, lust—these are the emotions we use to appeal to individual consumers. But most people want their co-workers to think of them as logical, rational, smart decision makers. In B2B copy, we shoot for emotions on the stoic side of the spectrum like trust, pride, and satisfaction.
How much copy is needed?
Individual consumers are more impulsive and can be sold with a full-page magazine ad if the creative is powerful enough. Business audiences, however, have to rationalize their decisions with colleagues and superiors. They need an arsenal of benefits to justify a major company purchase. Sometimes it takes more copy to close a B2B sale than a B2C sale.