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B2B vs. B2C: Media Planning for the Right Audience

Making a successful media plan really boils down to one thing: knowing your audience. It’s one part intuition and several parts in-depth research. If you have a strong understanding of those most likely to buy your product, you can better target them through messaging and creative which, ultimately, leads to more conversions ($$$).

But after going through the discovery process with enough clients, many marketers see a strong dichotomy develop: the challenges of selling to consumers versus selling to businesses. Are these groups really that different? Do we really need separate strategies to target each?

In short, yes. While both strategies build on the same logic, the materials and methods are distinctively different and require unique approaches.

Business-to-Consumer Advertising

You know the drill—shiny product illustrations printed in teeny bopper mags. Colorful spots wedged in between episodes of House Hunters International. The one Meow Mix jingle that etched itself into the psyche of a generation. This is consumer advertising as we know it.

To begin, ask yourself the same three questions with each new media project:

  1.  What are we selling?
  2.  Who’s buying it?
  3.  Where can we find them?

Once you’ve got a general idea of who you’re targeting, dive deeper. On average, how old is your consumer? Are they male or female? Where do they live? What are their hobbies? Creating individual personas for each primary audience (and secondary audiences, if you have them) will help humanize the demographic information you collect here.

Audience Breakdown

If you have more than one audience, you have even more decisions to make. Multiple audiences mean more messaging, more creative and more mediums of display. With a tight budget, this becomes a challenge. So, what can you do? Put your money where it’ll do the most work.

Determine the percentage breakdown of your overall audience. What percentage is made up of Group X compared to Group Y? Is there a middle ground where we can target both? Using this information, you can divide your media spend and allocate funds to the most important outlets.

Once you know who you’re talking to, the challenge becomes locating these individuals on both a physical and virtual level. Where do they spend their time in real life? What about online? These considerations will ultimately direct which types of media you use to display your ads.

Business-to-Business Advertising

Media planning for a business market is similar to consumer marketing in the sense that you still need a strong understanding of your audience. But unlike B2C media planning, advertising in the business arena requires consideration of “positions” rather than individual demographics. Purchasing power escalates from “Should I splurge an extra $3 for this detergent?” to “Should I use a portion of my company’s yearly budget on this software?” It’s a bigger sell, and a harder one at that.

Your target audience is almost always made up of individuals who understand marketing on some level, making them harder to sway. Rather than appealing to emotion, which tends to work well for B2C, go for authority instead. Decision-makers with purchasing power need to be convinced of your product’s ROI. How will it benefit them? Can you prove it?

For this reason, ad placements in industry journals, reputable trade magazines and talk radio do well for this audience. For these print publications, however, it’s important to find just the right fit. Choose the publication that offers an audience most likely interested in what you’re selling. Just like B2C placement, you’re trying to meet these people where they are, only with a different angle.

If reaching decision-makers proves difficult, consider targeting those who could become advocates for your products and convince their superiors to buy in. These individuals are usually the ones who will actually use the product—the boots on the ground. They may not have the authority to buy it themselves, but they understand the work and will be able to better translate the benefits to their bosses.

Getting Started

Whether you’re new to the media planning world or looking for an organized reference to the variety of outlets at your disposal, download our Media Planner Reference Guide today. Have any other questions or comments? Feel free to message me at [email protected] 😎