B2B Articles - September 15, 2023

B2B Healthcare organizations may experience negative outcomes when B2C marketing practices are applied to growth efforts.

In B2B healthcare, incorporating B2C marketing practices can inadvertently impede growth efforts.

While consumer-focused strategies often prioritize emotional engagement and eye-catching design, B2B healthcare organizations typically require a more nuanced approach. Decision-makers in these organizations are generally focused on factors that impact their organization rather than taking an individual focus. Factors such as security, improved workflows, cost-effectiveness, value creation, sustainability, compliance with industry regulations, growth, and the potential for long-term strategic relationships become drivers of B2B decision-making.


When B2B healthcare firms embrace B2C marketing tactics, they risk neglecting the significance of highlighting these important factors, unintentionally distancing themselves from their intended audience. Moreover, broad B2C strategies may water down the specialized messaging crucial in B2B healthcare marketing, weakening the overall impact of growth initiatives.

A recent Google and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study, "Decoding Decision-Making: New Insights into B2B Purchasing," substantiates these observations. The research found that B2B buyers are less influenced by emotional marketing tactics, which are more common in B2C campaigns. Instead, 80% of B2B purchasers are likelier to select a vendor that provides direct, specific, and practical content that speaks to prevalent industry issues and demonstrates clear value. This strong preference underscores the critical need for tailored messaging in B2B healthcare marketing.

Why do so many marketers in B2B healthcare tend to adopt a B2C mindset instead of focusing on business needs?

Personal Relatability & Pervasiveness

B2C healthcare marketing practices are relatable on an individual rather than institutional level, making them appealing.

In B2B healthcare marketing, despite our natural inclination for simplicity and emotional resonance, we face the challenge of adapting to the inherent complexity of the systems involved.

While B2C practices cater to personal challenges and experiences, navigating the intricacies of B2B healthcare requires a shift in mindset.

The prevalence of B2C marketing practices impacts our daily lives through various channels like TV, social media, and print media. These tactics shape our perception of effective marketing with emotional appeals, captivating visuals, and memorable slogans. However, healthcare marketing in B2B requires tailored strategies that address the specific needs and complexities of institutional change.

B2B healthcare marketers should not assume that a similar approach will yield the same results. In B2B healthcare, decision-making processes require a deep understanding of intricate organizational structures, industry-specific requirements, staffing enablement, equitable care, patient experience, and workflow transformation.

The healthcare industry's complexity can be overwhelming, contrasting with the simplicity of B2C approaches. Consequently, many healthcare marketers default to familiar B2C practices, even if they aren't the most effective for their growth objectives. To succeed, B2B healthcare marketers must invest time in comprehending the unique dynamics of their industry and develop strategies that effectively address the needs of institutional buyers and complex decision groups.

Unraveling the B2B and B2C Dichotomy: Realigning Marketing Strategies to Suit Specific Sector Needs

The lack of a clear understanding of the differences between B2B and B2C marketing can lead to the misapplication of B2C strategies in a B2B context. B2B healthcare providers require marketing approaches beyond surface-level appeal to fulfill complex business requirements, a factor not always recognized by marketers more familiar with B2C practices.


One common example of a misapplication of B2C marketing practices in B2B healthcare is social media campaigns primarily centered around individual patient stories or experiences. These campaigns, often successful in B2C healthcare, are designed to connect emotionally with the audience, emphasizing patient outcomes and personal narratives. However, these campaigns might not effectively address the business needs of B2B healthcare audiences.

Another example of the misapplication of B2C marketing practices in B2B healthcare is the tendency to focus predominantly on pitching a product rather than building a comprehensive business case. In B2C marketing, product-centric pitches often work well as they appeal to individual buyers' needs or wants. These presentations often highlight the product's features, benefits, and immediate value to the consumer.

In contrast, B2B healthcare requires a more strategic approach that involves presenting a compelling business case. Decision-makers in this context need to understand not only what the product is and what it does but also how it aligns with their organization's long-term goals, how it might integrate with existing systems, and what return on investment it might offer. Simply showcasing a product's features isn't enough. Instead, the marketing strategy must emphasize the product's potential to solve specific problems, enhance operational efficiency, and deliver meaningful, measurable outcomes. Thus, a B2C-style product pitch might fail to resonate with a B2B healthcare audience, as it doesn't adequately address these comprehensive considerations and needs.

In a complex sales scenario, like operational software or healthcare automation solutions, buyers are not solely influenced by the product features. Instead, they seek to grasp how the product will revolutionize their current situation and effectively address their challenges. Buyers are not individuals but groups who prioritize information for making informed decisions about partnerships, workflows, staffing, operations, procurement, and service transformation. Personal patient stories might not provide this crucial information.

The Misplaced Emphasis on Emotional Engagement in B2B Healthcare Marketing

There is a common misconception that B2B decision-making is purely rational and devoid of emotional factors. In reality, studies like Google/Millward Brown Digital's B2B Path to Purchase Study show that emotion plays a significant role in B2B purchasing decisions, often more so than in B2C scenarios. Therefore, B2B healthcare marketers may adopt B2C practices to tap into their target audience's emotional motivations, possibly at the expense of addressing specific business needs.

The emotions for the B2B versus B2C buying process are different, however.


In B2B healthcare marketing, emotional considerations often revolve around the potential organizational outcomes of a purchase decision. Decision-makers are concerned about the larger-scale implications of their choices, such as the potential for increased efficiency, cost-saving benefits, and enhancing their organization's reputation and competitive standing. The resulting emotions are tied to these strategic considerations, with feelings of confidence, relief, permanence, trust, anticipation, discovery, and organizational frustration playing a significant role.

On the other hand, emotional engagement in B2C marketing is typically more personal and immediate. Consumers are drawn to products and services that promise to improve their individual lives, solve their problems, and fulfill their desires. The emotions are closely tied to personal needs and aspirations, including joy, satisfaction, freedom, play, and self-esteem.

Consequently, while both B2B and B2C marketing involve emotional engagement, the nature and context of these emotions differ significantly, reflecting the distinct priorities and concerns of the two sectors.

Storytelling Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing

Storytelling, while a powerful tool in both B2B and B2C marketing, must be utilized differently in each context due to the inherent differences between the two sectors.

In B2B marketing, storytelling should focus on demonstrating a product or service's strategic value, reliability, and long-term potential benefits.

Success stories should feature quantifiable results, business problems, opportunities, and real-world examples of how the solutions provide transformation potential.

  • Layer the narratives with details about the product or service's unique selling proposition
  • Outline business problems
  • Highlight the cost-effectiveness of the offering
  • Provide proof points to support the claims
  • Highlight value created, opportunities unlocked, and aspirations possible
  • Emphasize the compliance capabilities of the product or service

On the contrary, B2C marketing storytelling usually concentrates on the consumer's personal experiences and emotional connection to the product or service. It often revolves around how the product or service can enhance the consumer's lifestyle, fulfill their aspirations, or solve their immediate problems.

According to a report by the Content Marketing Institute, "B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends," the difference in storytelling approach between B2B and B2C marketing is evident. The report found that successful B2B marketers were more likely to use a factual narrative focused on providing information that can influence business decisions. In contrast, successful B2C marketers developed more emotionally driven narratives centered on personal experiences or aspirations.

Key Takeaways:

  • B2B marketing storytelling needs to center on the strategic value and efficiency of a product, service, or partnership.
  • B2B narratives should be factual, data-driven, and grounded in real-world scenarios.
  • B2C marketing storytelling should center around personal experiences and emotional connection.
  • B2C narratives should focus on how a product or service can enhance the consumer's life.

Building Trust in a Complex Environment

Numerous studies and research statistics illustrate why B2C marketing strategies don't translate effectively into B2B. The importance of personalized relationship-building in B2B marketing starkly contrasts with B2C marketing's often impersonal, mass-market approach. A study by Salesforce titled, "State of the Connected Customer" (2018), highlights the importance of personalized experiences in B2B transactions. The research found that 72% of B2B customers expect vendors to personalize engagement to their needs.

The need for personalization in B2B marketing extends beyond merely knowing the customer's name or company. B2B healthcare is complex. Personalization needs to be meaningful and directly address the unique business needs of each client. For instance, marketing content should articulate how a product or service can solve specific operational hurdles, enhance efficiency, or drive strategic growth within the client's unique context.

This level of customization demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the client's industry, challenges, and objectives, thus fostering trust and establishing a solid foundation for long-term partnerships.

Buyers invest significant time researching independently online and consulting with peers and colleagues. This independent research phase vastly differs from typical B2C purchasing paths, which heavily rely on the influence of direct marketing efforts.

A study by Gartner found that B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers when considering a purchase. Most companies rely on sales reps to do most of the education, comparison, and value proposition storytelling. Gartner finds that "sales reps have roughly 5% of a customer’s time during their B2B buying journey." This data highlights the time pressures involved in B2B and the need to create educational and insightful content earlier in the buying process.

Relevant case studies, data-driven insights, and content tailored to unique business challenges can all contribute to creating a personalized marketing strategy that resonates deeply with B2B clients.

B2B marketing demands a distinct approach that addresses the unique nature of B2B transactions, focuses on building trust, demonstrates tangible value, and aligns with the strategic objectives of organizational stakeholders. A long-term strategy and rapport are vital in B2B marketing and sales efforts, a characteristic not usually applicable in B2C transactions.

The Shared Focus on Buyer's Needs in Both B2B and B2C Marketing

While B2B and B2C marketing differ in various aspects, they share a fundamental similarity: a requirement for a strong focus on the buyer's needs over the seller's perspective. In both sectors, successful marketing strategies are built around a deep understanding of the target audience and a commitment to addressing their specific needs and priorities.

Understanding the Target Audience

For B2B and B2C marketing, a thorough understanding of the target audience is a pivotal first step. This understanding informs the approach to marketing and sales, guiding product development, pricing strategies, promotional activities, and distribution options. In B2B marketing, this might involve an in-depth understanding of the industry, organization size, job roles, and specific business needs. Meanwhile, B2C marketing requires an appreciation of consumer demographics, lifestyles, preferences, and purchasing behaviors.

Addressing Specific Needs and Priorities

Once the target audience is identified and understood, both B2B and B2C marketers need to align their offerings with the specific needs and priorities of these audiences. In the B2B context, this could involve demonstrating how a product or service can solve a specific business problem, improve efficiency, or offer a strategic advantage. B2C marketing, on the other hand, might emphasize how a product or service can enhance a consumer's lifestyle, fulfill their desires, or address their immediate needs.

Therefore, despite the differences between B2B and B2C marketing, both sectors underscore the importance of focusing on the buyer's needs instead of the seller's perspective. This customer-centric approach is central to creating value, building trust, and fostering long-term relationships with the target audience.

Salesforce, "State of the Connected Customer" (2018

McKinsey & Company. "Are You Really Listening to What Your Customers Are Saying?"

Content Marketing Institute. "B2B Content Marketer Research."

Gartner. "The B2B Buying Journey The B2B buying process has changed, has your sales strategy?"

Accenture. "The New Realities of Selling to B2B Buyers".

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