Is B2B a Myth?

“Business-to-Business is a myth. Business is all about personal interactions.”

B2B_people

A few words I added to a retweet of a CMO.com article that was headlined, “Don’t hide behind a logo. Companies need to be represented by real people.”

That editorial addition of mine generated some interesting responses, but most were along the lines of “B2B is about where the customer isn’t the end user, while in B2C they were the same.” These are reasonable definitions, but they don’t address the central point I was making that whether they are buying something on behalf of a business, or for your own use, the customer is still a living, breathing, person. ( I hope).

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying office supplies or companies, it comes down to personal relationships and experiences.

Earlier this week I was listening to a business podcast where they were discussing a multi-billion dollar acquisition. Among the usual factors such as a strong order book and good margins one of the top reasons given for the deal going ahead was that the prime investor “knew the CEO and the management team and how they operated.” – They had built a personal relationship that was driving perhaps the most quintessential of business-to-business transactions.

Running out for new pens for your small business, which office supply store will you go to? Most likely the one where you had the best experience last time you shopped there. The one where someone helped you look for what you needed, the one where the person on the register smiled, the one where they actually know your name and what your business does? – The one that knows you as a person. Or maybe you get your pens from a catalog that your employer says you should use. Why did that office supply company become the corporate approved supplier? Because their sales person got to know the people in your purchasing department so he could make a competitive bid at the right time.

The B2B/B2C distinction has always bothered me. Outside of work we are all consumers, yet there seems to be an underlying assumption that when we are buying on behalf of someone else our behavior and expectations change the moment we walk through the office door. That the way we act in a work environment is different than we do at home. – I don’t believe that.

Marketing content isn’t (or shouldn’t be) aimed at an organization, it’s aimed at people within that organization. Good business marketing is about giving people the information to help them do their jobs better, or make their lives easier. It’s about reaching decision makers – i.e. the people who can make a difference. – See, “people,” again.

I have a Content Marketing best practices list pinned up in my office and on that list is “Think human-to-human not B2B or B2C.” – I couldn’t agree more.

I did start another detailed blog post on what I believe to be the “Myth of B2B” that quickly grew long enough to be a chapter (or chapters) of what might be a whole book one day. But I wanted to get other people’s thoughts beyond just those few responses on Twitter.

Do you believe that “B2B is a Myth”?

1 thought on “Is B2B a Myth?

  1. Do I believe that “B2B is a Myth”? Yes and no. (How’s that for taking a firm stand?)

    Yes, for the reasons you said. We mustn’t pretend that human interaction isn’t a vital part of B2B marketing. For me, this is the key takeaway of your blog post, and you’ve stated it very persuasively.

    But no, because while B2B and B2C share the human component, the stories are different. In B2B, we make business cases and orient our story to helping a business succeed. In B2C, our story is less oriented to the bottom line and more to making someone’s life easier, or helping them feel important, or simply giving them pleasure.

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