By Michele Linn published February 26, 2013

B2C vs. B2B Content Marketing: 3 Experts in The Big Debate [Video]

When it comes to content marketing, are B2B and B2C really all that different? In many ways, the key principle is the same: You need to create useful and engaging content with the reader in mind. 

I’ll admit: I’m a B2B gal, and I’ve always considered B2B content marketing to be more complex because there can be so many people involved in purchasing decisions, and the sales cycles can be quite long — sometimes requiring extensive lead nurturing programs. And, don’t forget the interactions that marketing and sales need to have.

But, as I had the pleasure of sitting in on this roundtable conversation with Craig Waller, Robert Rose and Michael Weiss, I realized how insanely complex B2C also is, because of the sheer number of people you need to get to “sing from the same page.”

That said, this is a great discussion about content marketing for anyone in B2B or B2C. In it, you’ll hear what the biggest differences are between B2B and B2C marketers based on the content marketing benchmarks, budgets and trends research. You’ll also get perspective on why print is so important for B2C.

Content Marketing B2C Roundtable Discussion from Content Marketing Institute on Vimeo.

I would love for you to weigh in: What do you think are the biggest differences between B2B and B2C content marketing? And, more importantly, in what scenarios is it important for us to understand their nuances?

Hear more insight on B2C content marketing from thought leaders like these at Content Marketing World 2013. Register now, so you don’t miss out!

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • BIS

    We’re a b2b company providing solutions to life science companies and healthcare providers (hospitals). Our life science customers are a combination of b2b and b2c, selling their medical devices and pharmaceuticals to both hospitals and consumers.

    Over the years as pharmaceutical and medical device companies have struggled to get “face time” with doctors, they have moved their marketing efforts on line, where doctors and consumers are getting more of their information.

    Our company has worked with life science companies and healthcare providers, helping them collect and analyze their marketing data so I can speak to the issue of what works and doesn’t from an analytical perspective.

    The first take away that these companies came away with was to identify their audience (target demographic) and segment that audience because a millennials digest information differently than baby boomers, regardless of issue.

    Delivery of information was the second take away. Where is it being read – smart phone, laptop, tablet, etc., versus the environment where the information is being received – hospital, home, the pharmacy.

    There are a lot more nuanced approaches that go into this scenario but you get the picture. What we see from our customers efforts is a lot more of a b2c model unfolding because it captures people’s interest more.

    The way a person digests information is critically important and a b2c marketing model based on our experience with our customers capitalizes on people’s on line consumption of information. To that end we’ve changed the way we go to market and have capitalized on a b2c model as oppose to the traditional b2b marketing process.

    • Michele Linn

      Really interesting take. I like how you are applying the best B2C practices to B2B. Would love to learn more.

  • Jeff Ogden

    Good post, Michelle. Content is content. As Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company said on my show, Marketing Made Simple TV “There ain’t now B2B or B2C. It’s all P2P.”

    With 9 out of 10 companies doing content marketing today. (And Velocity Partners says that one is doing nothing and won’t bother anyone.), relevance is the most important factor. So companies today compete on buyer insights more than ever. Check out Marketing Made Simple TV at

  • Andrew Moravick

    Great post Michelle. Not too long ago, I actually used the CMI, MarketingProfs report to explore how content marketing may actually blur the lines between B2B and B2C in a blog post for SnapApp. Whether there are distinct differences or not, however, I think these sorts of comparisons are definitely valuable in diving into the specific trends and tactics at the heart of B2B and B2C marketing. Thanks for putting this together!



    • Michele Linn

      Hi Andrew,

      Interesting post and comments — thanks for passing it along. I like how you help the reader understand why it’s important to understand the differences between B2B and B2c. It’s really not all about semantics!

  • Debbie Josendale

    Great discussion! I think there are a couple of other things that were briefly touched on that influence B2B and B2C content marketing.

    One is the impact of a decision. In many B2B situations, buying decisions have enormous impact on things like the profitability of a company or competitive advantage; and can make or break careers of decision makers. In most B2C decisions, the impact is much less because it is not a high priced item, or has a narrower circle of influence. I think that’s why content marketing is so powerful in the B2B buyers journey to educate, answer questions, build trust and confidence.

    But there is a similar convergence of the importance of content to educate in the B2C buyers journey as the buying decision becomes more significant in terms of cost or impact to the consumer. Things like buying a house, medical matters, parenting challenges etc. are examples of the kinds of consumer decisions that lend themselves well to content marketing tools that might typically be used in B2B marketing.

    • Michele Linn

      Debbie — Great points. There are definitely different things you need to do when selling directly vs selling to influencers. As Doug just mentions, the need to look at B2B and B2C as the primary differentiator may certainly not be the most ideal way to segment. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  • Best Astro
  • Doug Kessler

    Great discussion. These guys know their stuff.

    Sometimes I wonder if the B2B vs B2C thing is a dead end.

    It’s funny that we marketers – the experts on segmentation – are still banging our heads against the B2B/B2C segmentation. Maybe it’s not the most meaningful way to segment brands.

    Maybe something like ‘long sales cycle’/’short sales cycle’ is more meaningful. Some B2B brands sell off the web page (anti-virus software, say) and some B2C brands have sales cycles that last for months (cars, mortgages).

    So maybe it’s so hard to nail the differences between B2B and B2C is because they have a fair amount of overlap.

    (On a more juvenile note, we did a profane ‘B2B meets B2C’ video you might like — and might well hate:

    Warning: the language is not for kids.)

    • Michele Linn

      Doug — I agree that this discussion only has limited use, but I do think it’s interesting to understand how we need to approach things differently for B2B and B2C. We can’t have a “one-size-fits-all” approach for content marketing. I like your suggestions on how we may be otherwise able to segment this as it’s another way to learn from what other are doing. Thanks for sharing the video as well!

  • SunSocial Marketing

    I think this issue can be even more complex when you’re dealing with an industry that markets services as opposed to marketing products. Good thoughts to read here.