B2B vs. B2C, is there really a “versus?”

I currently work in a B2B industrial environment which is a tough market to market for.  Granted, our products sell in to more than just the industrial manufacturing space which does allow for a bit more flair when it comes to some of our outreach.  The tough part has always been to break through the B2B mold & make people realize that at the end of the day, a building does not buy products, actual people buy products.

When I was managing all of our social media platforms, it was very hard to not get down on myself that we didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of interaction from our fans.  It did occur to me that although Facebook & Twitter were good brand building machines, where we needed to be was LinkedIn.  With the help of our PR agency, we created three separate LinkedIn groups that allowed our top thought leaders to talk about their knowledge on various markets.  They were talking to people…not buildings.

This thought that B2B is just a disguised B2C “person” was further confirmed when I read an article in AdAge magazine that talked about the fact that the lines have become so blurred that even the biggest B2C advertising magazine thought it worth while to buy up the biggest B2B magazine.

“The move reflects the growing overlap between b-to-b and consumer strategies as both grow more focused on targeting and engaging specific customer groups…While exceptions abound, the stereotype was always that b-to-b marketing was boring. B-to-b companies did little TV advertising and spent most of their media dollars on trade publications. You had industrial companies selling boring products to other boring companies. All that anyone cared about was price and product features.

Times change. The b-to-b sector accounts for over 50% of the U.S. gross domestic product. As a category, b-to-b makes a huge contribution to the economy, job creation and innovation. Now marketers are just as likely to engage with business customers on personal channels like Facebook and blogs as we are to engage with them in trade publications.”

Here is one more article about bringing B2B marketers in to the social media world. “It would be easy for smaller to midsize B2B companies to ignore the success of the GEs and IBMs, since the pockets are deeper. But the fundamentals are the same — and the new channels to communicate are far more cost-effective today than ever before. To those B2B marketers who say social media isn’t relevant to them, how do you explain the thousands of “likes” for IBM’s Smarter Planet? It’s a matter of incorporating a variety of media into a marketing mix, understanding that people who buy toothpaste also buy industrial engines or technology solutions.”

What do you think? Is B2B merely a front to hide behind?  I’d like to take a deep sleep, pretend like there are no rules, and start fresh with a new mentality of P&S2P, products & services to people, or business to consumer.

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