B2B Is Bi-Curious But Unwilling to Admit It

By Spicer Matthews

Before we investigate this thought-provoking claim, let’s do a quick review. Conventional wisdom holds that the fundamental difference between business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) sales is the purchaser. Furthermore, although in both cases the marketing goal is to guide customers through the purchasing process, the tactics employed with businesses and consumers differ significantly. But things change, and the line between B2B and B2C is blurring.

Traditionally, B2B has been associated with old school sales techniques. Think dealmaking between a salesperson and a business representative—over golf and martinis, maybe. In contrast, B2C entails advertising across a variety of media to cultivate brand awareness and loyalty among individual consumers. Making the B2C sale has historically involved retailers and salespeople—but in many situations these intermediaries are fast becoming relics of the past. (So is the 3-martini lunch.) Social media and the troves of information available online now empower consumers to become well informed before making purchases. They are also more comfortable with—sometimes preferring—a self-directed role in transactions. Think self-service. At home in your pajamas at midnight, if you like.

In recent years B2B has begun to look a lot more like B2C. Although Skyclerk, Cloudmanic’s bookkeeping application for small businesses, is essentially a B2B product, we do not have dedicated salespeople. Instead, we market the product in the very same ways we would a consumer product. We use mobile apps stores, social networks, and online promotion to bring attention to Skyclerk and acquire customers. The product itself is our golf-playing salesperson—meaning it has to be designed to effectively sell itself.

Therefore, strategizing how to acquire, maintain, and grow the customer base must be integral to the design of a product. Because the type of customer making the purchasing decision is becoming less important than how the customer becomes aware of and eventually onboards with the product, we at Cloudmanic Labs devote a lot of resources to making the Skyclerk onboarding process dead simple (goodbye tutorials, adios user manuals)—and a little fun.

Despite adopting B2C marketing tactics, some businesses cling to the antiquated “to the trade only” B2B model, preferring to maintain some distance from consumers. Not Cloudmanic. We readily cross the increasingly blurry line between B2B and B2C and are proud to admit it. We believe that embodying the best of B2B and B2C is not 2G2BT.