B2B vs. B2C – humbug… October 11, 2007Posted by Elana Anderson in Marketing, Marketing Strategy.
I think that many of us (yes, I’m guilty too) in the industry are too fixated on the differences between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.
A while back, I was working with a group to scope a peer community for top marketing executives. One argument was that we should only include marketers from B2C firms. “Huh,” I said, “What’s a B2C firm? Do the CMOs at Wells Fargo and P&G really have more in common with one another than they do with the CMO of Cisco?”
I think not.
The CMOs of these firms share common challenges and have unique differences that are more related to the type of product they are selling and their distribution model than the audience that they are selling to. Furthermore, if you step back and look at large companies in North America (and worldwide), you’ll find that most market themselves to both consumers and businesses. The fact is that CMOs from most large companies must focus on issues related to many different audiences including consumers, businesses, investors, etc. – and each group has different needs and expectations. To think of a company – or the CMO job — as B2C- or B2B-focused is too simplistic.
There are a lot of marketing suppliers out there trying to gain entrance to the CMO suite. Most marketing services and technology firms I talk with tell me they want to position themselves “key long-term partners and advisors to the CMO.” Well, you know what? Many of these firms are also focused on tactical issues – like email, SEO, campaign management, content management, etc. — that are only intermittent blips on the CMO’s radar (and if they’re not, I question the longevity of that CMO). If you really have dreams of being the first party the CMO thinks about for most issues then you probably need to reevaluate. But, to figure out if you have a shot, start by understand the challenges of the job. Then, clearly identify where you fit in and whether your firm really addresses one or more of those challenges. If you can’t do this, then don’t bother knocking on the CMO’s door – you’ll be wasting her time.