What exactly does “Business-to-Business” (B2B) communications mean?

Griffin Communications works almost exclusively with business entities that offer products and services to other business entities. The difference between that and businesses selling to individual consumers is vast and can’t be under-stated. Let us explain:

When Joe Consumer’s wife sends him to the store to buy laundry detergent and he selects a brand different from what he’d been asked to get, the consequences of his decision are seldom more than disappointment and perhaps a mild scolding. Additionally the cost of this inaccurate selection is likely only a few dollars.

In contrast, when Joe the Manager selects a product or a service to be used within his business, the cost of decisions is, almost without exception, magnified by hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars. Should that purchase not produce the desired result, or worse compromise the functioning of the business, the consequences are similarly magnified. Rather than a mild scolding Joe could lose his job over his bad decision. Co-workers and even entire divisions could also be placed in jeopardy. Our Joe example can also be more than a manager. He might even be a CEO, answering to his board and stockholders. So the difference between consumer and business marketing is the magnitude of each decision.

Consumers, on the majority of purchases, act on whim or impulse. Talking animals, clever one liners and even swimsuit models can influence a sale. Business buyers, out of necessity, are motivated by facts and logic. They work with much deeper concerns and responsibilities. Understanding this and therefore knowing effective ways to communicate it is what makes business-to-business a whole different animal from communications directed to consumers.