Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.
Julia: Everybody, I’m excited to bring to you a podcast today about a bunch of letters and acronyms. To talk to us about it is Michelle. Michelle, tell us a little bit about you, where you’re at in the world, where you work for, everything.
Michelle: Thanks, Julia. I’m Michelle Sell. I’m located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the Philadelphia side of New Jersey, which is the better side, let’s be honest. I work for TrueLook Construction Cameras right now as a product marketing manager.
Julia: Cool. That’s awesome. I know that you’ve worked in a lot of different B2B, B2C, but tell us about your journey into marketing and what you do now.
Michelle: I actually started with an interesting path. I got a degree in psychology, and was actually working in the behavioral health field for a little while after that. I knew I wanted to get a master’s degree, and behavioral health is a rough field, so marketing was the right combination. It appealed to me, there were transferable skills, things like research, data analytics, writing. There was a lot there that I could pull from. So I ultimately went for an MBA to help me transition into the field, and did an internship during that, and ended up in a role with a business to business company. My internship was with the business to business to consumer space, and I’ve done a little bit with business to consumer as well. I think going into my career with marketing, I really wanted to get as many experiences as possible, and I think I have overachieved on that a little bit.
Julia: Before we get into B2B, B2C, B2B2C, we need to pause because I was a psych major for one semester, so really not anywhere near what you did. Because once they told me I had to memorize the parts of the brain, I was like, “Yeah, I’m out. I don’t wanna do this anymore.” But I also love psychology and sociology, all of those humanities. What are some of the things that you have seen help you from your psych background in marketing? I’m just curious.
Michelle: So the big things that I instantly found were, like I mentioned before, the research comfort levels, being comfortable with data because other people will look at Google Analytics for the first time and be like, what the heck is this? And then writing translated really well to copywriting for technical details. And then, I guess I always thought it was helpful to understand the perspective that other people have, because you have to understand where people are coming from to study psychology, and really to work in behavioral health, to understand this person is yelling at me, but it’s because they are experiencing psychosis, and you have to be able to have that empathy. Some of it is natural, but some of it is just learning what it means and how different people communicate.
Julia: In my former life, I was a social worker, and I feel like that understanding of, everybody has different nuances and communicates differently is huge in marketing because then as we are talking to people, because we’re all writing messages, all trying to understand what people are thinking. I especially talk about it with our business owners, like we can’t use your insider language because that’s not necessarily how your customers communicate. Cool. I love it. We’re not here to talk about psychology as much as I would love to, talk to us about B2B, B2C, B2B2C. Give us the definitions really quick. I think most people who are listening are gonna know those terms, but just in case.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s a good way to start out. B2B is business to business. It’s when your business is selling to another business. So like the company I work for now sells construction cameras to specifically the construction industry. And then, people might be familiar with things like HubSpot or Marketo, as marketers, those are the kinds of things that are targeted specifically to us. Then you’ve got B2C, which is business to consumer. I think B2C is a little easier to conceptualize because almost all of us, if not every single one of us has been a consumer at some point or another, so you’re familiar with Target, the McDonalds, Netflix.
Julia: Yeah, retail.
Michelle: And then B2B2C is a little more complicated, as it sounds. So you’re selling from one business to another business with the end consumer in mind. For example, I worked for an automotive manufacturer, and I think a lot of people think of the dealerships as part of the manufacturers, but they operate more like franchises. They’re almost like small businesses, and they make a lot of their own business decisions. So they’re figuring out what works for their end consumers as well. I’ll throw another example in. I was at a conference last week or two weeks ago, and there was a company presenting. It is a software company that sells an application to financial institutions that ultimately uses it for their consumers to have the online banking experience. That way, the small financial institution doesn’t have to hire a team of developers and figure out how to make an app. They just buy the app, they put their logo in it, and then the consumers get the experience of online banking with their financial institution.
Julia: Cool. That’s awesome. My brain is already spiraling because I’m like, oh, I’ve always thought we were this, but maybe we’re not this. How would one know what is the type of their business?
Michelle: I think it always gets a little confusing because everyone uses their own acronyms and definitions, and the nature of business is to innovate, so it can be tough. But for me, I try to think of like, who is your target audience? Is it parents with young children? Then you’re targeting consumers. If it’s a particular industry, if you’re targeting manufacturing companies, it’s business. B2B2C is a bit more complicated, but you tend to know if you’re marketing to both businesses and to their consumers, it’s confusing, and you’ll know.
Julia: Well, that answered my question, because I was like, maybe we are B2B2C, and I’m like nope, I think we’re B2B, because we’re a marketing agency marketing to business owners. I think my confusion is that they’re marketing to their consumers. Does that make sense? I don’t know. What do you think?
Michelle: That is a good question because I know, like the automotive manufacturer, we would supply the marketing materials, and then they might have a marketing team who picks what to use ultimately.
Julia: Food for thought. I love it. So you’ve had opportunities to work in each of those types, what have you found to be nuances between them? I’m assuming each type would market somewhat differently, but there could be similarities. Tell me about that.
Michelle: I think the biggest differences are, especially the experience of the purchasing decision. B2C tries to make things quick and easy. If you’re thinking, “Oh, I’m low on toilet paper”, you just wanna get that toilet paper. You don’t wanna put a ton of thought into it. You go online, you add it to your grocery list, and get it at the store when you’re there. But if you’re a business trying to purchase toilet paper, let’s say you’re a fast food chain, and you have stores across the country, and working in the purchasing department, and you’re like, these fast food chains need toilet paper, it’s gonna be a more complicated decision because you’re gonna need to know from your vendor, are there minimum order quantities that you need? Do you have to store the toilet paper somewhere? How do you ship it to all of your different store locations? There’s just a lot more involved in the decision making process, even to the point of, is my boss gonna be mad if I make the wrong decision and spend too much on toilet paper? So B2B has more contracts and more communication during the sales process versus B2C. As a consumer, you just want it to be quick, you wanna figure out what you need to know and make your decision.
Julia: Right. So then for the marketing teams, for each of those, then that requires a different set of information even. I think in general, there’s this, at least in my head, I’m like, B2B, their brands are always uglier, B2C is more attractive. But B2B still has to worry about their website and their visual identity, just because they’re not sitting on a shelf at Target. That’s still important, right?
Michelle: Yeah. It’s still a big factor too. I would say, make sure that you’re communicating appropriately and positioning yourself, but you don’t have quite as much noise necessarily with a ton of competitors and different companies. It seems like the B2C world has so many options, and then the B2B world tends to be served by bigger players. So you have like, you’re a red company, and you’re green company. You can almost get away with things being a little more simplistic, and more serious too, because it’s a lot easier to market with a lot of emotion when you’re working with consumers versus businesses, because you don’t have the consumers having to think about that like, is my boss gonna be angry with this decision, type of question? They’re just deciding for themselves what makes them feel good in the moment.
Julia: That’s so interesting, because I would also imagine, while both B2B and B2C, you do have to, per se, show that you’re better than the competition, with B2B, you may have to provide more information. I think about our work, our sales process is a lot longer than a split second decision because you do have to answer the questions, and you have to talk about all of the things that they’re gonna get or the contracts, et cetera. It’s not just picking something off the shelf.
So based on your experience, what are some tips that you would give to B2B businesses who are trying to be better at marketing?
Michelle: I would say you want to make sure that you’re really thinking about your communication touch points with the other businesses, and making sure that you’re communicating with the different people who are involved in making the decisions. So you might have multiple departments that you need to communicate to, whereas with B2C, it might be simpler that you’re focused on two parents as your consumers, whereas business to business, you have to think about how the purchasing department’s gonna feel about it, how the executives are gonna feel about it, how the end department that’s using the software product, whatever it is, is gonna have to have the experience of using it. There’s just a lot more people that you have to make sure are feeling good about the decision. So it’s just a different way of communicating.
Julia: I think that’s even an interesting point because the people who might be making the decisions might not even understand the problem that your product is solving. I would imagine that could happen too, where somebody makes a complaint, but the other person, the actual purchasing power or the executive person doesn’t actually understand why this is important. And so, you almost have to act like a liaison for that information in a way too.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s a great point.
Julia: What about B2C businesses? What are some tips that you would give them?
Michelle: I would definitely focus on making things as easy as possible for the consumer to make a decision, provide them with all the information they need, think about what they could be searching for when they don’t really necessarily know that your product even exists, and just different angles to be able to attract their attention. Just thinking of different ways to communicate with them.
Julia: Yeah. And I could see where, like for both of them, it’s important to know who you’re talking to obviously, but with B2C, I would imagine that you also have to, just because we’ve been talking about how it might be a split second decision or a fast decision, you do want all of that to be easily accessible so that people feel confident in making a decision. I would imagine that’s important as well.
Julia: Michelle, thank you. This is so informative. I have a couple questions for you that are not on the list. We do something once in a while called Hot Takes. It’s a really silly thing, but it’s just questions that I come up with right before this. Everybody, Michelle has not been prepped. Michelle, I hear a lot of people say even a B2B business is B2C because you’re still marketing to humans. Yes? No? Maybe? What would you say?
Michelle: I like that thought process to an extent, especially having my psychology background, like we talked about, and it is people making the decisions even though they have to think or almost look through a different lens because they are making a decision for a business, and they have a lot more thoughts in their head around what’s the right decision for the whole company. But it is almost just targeting multiple people, like I mentioned, communicating with all of your different decision makers, and influencers, and the people who are going to be day-to-day. It could be somebody in a warehouse using a forklift, and the executives didn’t realize that they needed a forklift with some new feature that was gonna make things much faster. So it’s a matter of dealing with so many different people.
Julia: Yeah, so it’s almost like a group. While I was researching this, one thing that I found really interesting was that I read an article that was saying, in B2C, you don’t wanna use insider language because you want it to be easy to understand, but B2B, you almost, in some regard, want to use insider language so that you’re seen as an expert. So not related to this necessarily, but in a way it is, because you can’t just do B2B like you would do B2C if you need to use insider language. That’s my 2 cents.
Michelle: I think you’d almost sound like B2C if you were just speaking B2B, or to people in a B2B setting where you’re just using very general language, they’d be like, “This person doesn’t understand what I’m doing at all.”
Julia: Totally. Also in my research, I found a lot of these acronyms. And so, I don’t know if you’ve heard them, but we’re gonna have a pop quiz. And so if you don’t, it’s fine, because I didn’t know what they were either, but maybe you do. Have you heard of C2C?
Michelle: Consumer to consumer? What is that? Do you have an example?
Julia: Airbnb would be one, or Etsy would also be one. And obviously, there’s still an actual business entity in between them that facilitates it. They even listed Amazon as a consumer to consumer, but I think some of it is B2C. I think Amazon has a lot of things going on.
Michelle: Yeah. Amazon tries to do everything.
Julia: Also P2P?
Michelle: P2P? I feel like it’d be too obvious if it was person to person.
Julia: They listed it peer to peer. So basically the same thing as consumer to consumer. All right, there’s a couple more. C2B, I had never heard of this one, but it makes sense. Have you heard of this one?
Michelle: It can’t be consumer to business, is it?
Julia: It is.
Michelle: That’s wild!
Julia: Do you have any idea? I had to look up examples because I had no idea. But they talked about stock photo sites, so like where people would upload their own imagery, and then businesses can buy them. They also used affiliate marketing. That one, I have a harder time understanding. They were saying the consumer puts it up with their affiliate link, and then that makes the business money. But I’m like, that almost feels like consumer to consumer with the business being the product. I don’t know. Last couple, B2A. Have you heard of that one? I went down a rabbit, Michelle
Michelle: This is delightful. There’s so many acronyms.
Julia: They talked about B2A being business to anyone, and that is almost a sarcastic version of all of these. And then the two other ones that I found was B2G, which was business to government, and that’s like aerospace, that even included TurboTax, because TurboTax technically services the government, we just pay them to do it. And then business to many was one of them, but that was like an all encompassing, “Oh I wanna do business with everybody.” Anyway, that’s my rabbit hole for you.
Michelle, thank you for joining us and sharing a little bit about your experiences in the B2B, B2C world. If people wanna connect with you, where can they find you?
Michelle: I guess LinkedIn would be best. I’m Michelle Sell MBA, https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelledsell, because there’s a million Michelle Sells.
Julia: Awesome. Your last name, do you wanna spell it for everybody just in case?
Michelle: It’s Michelle with two Ls, and then Sell, S as in Sam, E-L-L.
Julia: Sweet. Awesome.
Michelle: Definitely reach out if you have questions.
Julia: Yeah. Well, Michelle, thank you so much. We really appreciate you.
Michelle: Thanks for having me on.
Julia: Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.
Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.