Internet Made B2B, B2C, and C2C

Long before the Internet was born we had businesses selling to other businesses and consumers. But it was the Internet that really put B2B And B2C on the map. For that matter, it also built the C2C landscape.

What is B2B, B2C, and C2C?

B2B refers to Business-to-business, B2C is Business-to-consumer, and C2C represents Consumer-to-consumer. These terms have all been popularized by the World Wide Web with no built-in boundaries for commerce and e-Business sales.

Marketing Classifications

Every company brand could be classified under at least one of the three with many companies selling to both B2B and B2C classifications.

Some countries use BtoB, BtoC, and CtoC to represent the exact same thing. The really interesting thing about all six of these U.S. English Acronyms is that other countries have adopted and even use the terms in their own written languages to communicate to their readers.

Sales Online

In the early technology days of the Internet these three terms represented a very narrow spectrum of eCommerce branded companies that were exclusively doing online sales to other businesses or consumers. Now with affordable Internet technology capabilities of anyone or any business having an online eCommerce shopping cart built into their website the broader description is a much more accurate description. That is, defining it as, any website or company that is marketing & advertising their products or branded services online to other consumers and businesses is said to be BtoB, BtoC, Or CtoC.

There have been many excellent articles written online about the differences between B2B & B2C sales. But, if I had to sum it up, the biggest difference in the two is the time frame from start of a sale to the close of a sale. Typically B2B requires more time than B2C though there are exceptions to every rule.

Real Estate Exception

One exception would be the real estate market place. More than 70% of Home Buyers are starting their home buying searches online. The consumer process of buying a home can extend out over many months and can even include working with a number of Realtors before ever committing to one specific Realtor. Home Sellers on the other hand, may interview numerous Realtors before settling with one they can trust.

There certainly are other differences to consider, and it is always a good idea to understand who your target audience is.

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Search Engine Differences

Maybe there is room for a number of different Search Engines.

Just like businesses, people, and websites having different ideas, maybe having unique search engines that serve up their own unique blend of results is a plus for the market place.

Much has been made by the online Search Engine News Reporters in comparing the results of Yahoo! and MSN to Google. Google certainly does have a following of faithful users that trust their brand, but suppose for a second that instead of comparing results we look instead at what new and unique content could be provided by various search engines on the Net.

From a marketing standpoint, Yahoo! and MSN Search would do much better if instead of trying to look like the Google results, they started promoting themselves with a completely different set of search engine results pages (SERP). Instead of imitating others and in essence spitting out the same old content, it would be much better for Yahoo and MSN to think "Inside the Box" instead of "Outside the Box"

How could this benefit the Yahoo! Search or MSN Search brand?

First off, if I am a faithful user of any particular search engine and am doing online research why would I want to go to another site to see the same results? Now, on the other hand if there were completely new sets of different SERPs then that would give me a whole new World Wide Web that I might not be familiar with.

Another idea that might sound outlandish at first would be for a search company to have two different and unique feeds at the very same time. Each could be built with a unique algorithm and allow a button for search one or search two.

If an advertising campaign was done in such a way to say: "Looking for New Results? Find it at MSN Search on the Inside of our Boxes", imagine the possibilities.

Benefiting the Consumer User

Competition is what drives the market place. Not everyone likes the taste of the same Colas. Having more choices is certainly good for the consumer. It would have the added benefit of making it much more difficult for the spammers if they had to divide their attention to more than one search enterprise company. This would certainly improve the results for consumers.

B2B, B2C, and C2C Boxes

Since we have been talking about search boxes, how about Business-to-business, Business-to-consumer, and Consumer-to-consumer Business Category selection boxes all from the same Search Engine. Certainly the more advanced users do use the advanced search features, specifying or excluding certain keywords, but by having pre-assigned buttons it would make it very easy for users. Most websites fall into one, two, or all three of the B2B, B2C, and C2C categories. By establishing some sort of basis for all websites, could potentially divide and categorize most sites into these three groupings. This could be very beneficial for commerce, sales, and Consumers of all three business types.

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Making a Search Engine Difference

Search Engine Results Improvements - Changes for Good

About a year and a half ago, I was looking for information on B2B Internet marketing and not finding very good content. In fact most of the sites in the search results for B2B or even B2C for that matter were nothing but a bunch of directories involved in trickery with very little content.

Today those results have changed significantly through hard work by individuals, improvements in search engine algorithms, and time. Still there is more to be done.

There are some excellent websites that have good information for marketing and advertising to businesses or consumers. Even government .gov and educational .edu websites have detailed information related to Consumer-to-consumer, Business-to-consume, or Business-to-business Internet marketing and advertising nationally or internationally.

In the world on the Internet things change quickly. A business must learn to adapt to these changes in the market place. For example: Email marketing and newsletter publishing was a big source for lead generation in the early 2000s but that is somewhat diminished today as most companies and individual consumer Email boxes are polluted by Spam attacks.

New technology is continually making strides into the world of B2B and B2C marketing. For example: As more people become adapt at using RSS XML feeds for information gathering or news updates this will become a prime source for marketing and advertising, and direct selling through site feeds. This technology will become more accepted by consumers as they can receive information and read it whenever they want without the threat of having their privacy violated by companies sharing email addresses or personal information.

Advertising certainly has changed the way B2B and B2C can operate today. With search engines providing the means to target customers through targeted keyword advertising, this has changed the landscape of how businesses need to operate online. Companies are beginning to budget for this type of online promotion since studies are showing more individuals are spending time on the Web. Individuals that have been on the Web for longer periods are spending considerably more time Online and less time watching Television or reading Newspapers.

Search engines have recognized this advertising trend for a long time and are continually improving their products for business and consumer use. In fact at least one search engine has beta testing going on to incorporate ads into RSS XML site feeds. This is a natural union for both ads and site feeds to automatically serve targeted advertisements to readers.

Internet marketing and online advertising will continue to make a difference for businesses taking advantage of the tools at hand.

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The Internet Equalizer Story

by: James A. Warholic

As the Internet continues to evolve so do how B2B and B2C operate with the new generation of marketing tools.

It wasn't until the "world wide web" really came into existence that the terms B2B and B2C took off. B2B or "business to business" and B2C or "business to consumer" have always been around but with the advent of ebusiness or ecommerce which typically means conducting business online has created a whole new realm for selling and advertising products and services.

The radio and television media and to a lesser extent print media was instrumental in the driving force for advertising to consumers or other businesses in the later part of the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century we have a new global media force that is still greatly evolving from with-in and with-out. Everyday new websites come into existence from corporations displaying their company operations to individuals with something to say. People internationally are changing their habits and are spending significantly more time online doing research, staying abreast of current events, conducting business, transferring of information from point A to B, or a large segment of the new generation involved with online game play. All of these activities have reduced the amount of time people spend with the old media outlets.

Many of the larger B2B and B2C companies have grabbed a hold of the changes taking place and have strengthened their market presence. Other smaller firms have not taken advantage of the great equalizer that is the Internet. Many small to medium firms hire sales people and spend thousands of dollars monthly in salaries and benefits while giving very little thought to Online advertising or Internet marketing services as a means of generating quality leads and sales. Some of these actually have budgets for print marketing and advertising in magazines and newspapers but nothing set aside for online advertising or internet marketing. Their idea of a website presence is pay someone a one-time charge to put a fancy website together and nothing more is required to increase sales or improve their brand.

Taking advantage of the Internet

Small business to medium size organizations certainly need to have an online website presence but with the understanding that a web site needs to have a "life." Just like a company continues to grow and change so to must the website. This can be used as an extension of the sales and marketing arm of a company. It can also be used in conjugation with the engineering side of many B2B companies for the purpose of content management between individuals or groups, in tracking changes in P2P "peer to peer" environments, or Web Apps (Web Applications).

Many in the B2C world can also take advantage of new technologies such as Web conferencing, streaming multimedia, Wireless Web Mail, Pod casting, and other Web applications such as virtual assistants to automatically answer questions.

As the Net continues to grow so to do the sales, marketing, and advertising tools at the disposal of companies to improve their market position. Sure, the big companies hire employees to manage and create content for their web sites but small firms can also have a major impact in their market segment to really stand out and be heard. There is a commitment of time and work required to continually improve your market presence but it can be well worth it for the results.

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B-to-B and B-to-C WOW Factor

More often then not there seems to be a wow factor involved when E marketing to consumers as compared to other businesses.

Typically the consumer wants to see the product displayed in an informative way with pictures and information to go along with it. The 360 virtual views work out well for displaying all sides of a product. Flash animation or a video can play an important part in the explanation of a consumer product. E marketing software to businesses or consumers with providing information in a graphic way can really make the sale.

Certain BtoC types of businesses are more appropriate for adding streaming video. For example: real estate marketing can have a major impact upon a buyer of a home by providing detailed pictures, 360 virtual tours, or streaming videos of the properties. As more individuals are going online to shop for everything from cameras to cars the natural progression is toward the big ticket items such as homes. Realtors® are adding MLS (Multiple Listing Service) feeds to their websites. This provides a means of anyone shopping online for their next home.

Some BtoB businesses can also use the Wow factor. Though, many BtoB businesses are highly specialized and may have extensive nondisclosure agreements with their customers which can make it extremely difficult to display even a picture of what it is they fabricate. Sometimes, it is even impossible for a business to mention what it is they do. In addition many of the business-to-business operations are very competitive and using pictures, video, or other types of animation may reveal trade secrets to the competition.

So, while both B-to-C and B-to-B can include the wow factor the use of it needs to be tempered with ethical issues and the individual business at hand.

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Marketing in the Twenty-First Century

"In marketing to other businesses or consumers one of the most important things is to establish good relationships. In B2B or business to business this requires a commitment of time and good customer service prior to ever making that first sale. Customer service begins with a customer's very first contact with a company. It may take place with a phone call by a sales person or an engineer searching for a product or service from a B2B company." (Excerpt from: Internet Marketing B2B and B2C)

While the article provides key differences between B2B and B2C and the e-commerce impact the Internet has made for these companies I would like to cover one of the most important aspects of a company that quite often gets overlooked. The key for business is customer service. Customer service begins at the very moment a customer has contact with a business.

I am reminded of my childhood visits to Disneyland where the smiles on the faces of the workers put a smile on my face. It was as though the workers did it because they prided themselves in providing a great experience for the customer. In fact, it did not even seem like the workers were working but were truly enjoying themselves at the park. I am sure Disneyland has an interview process that seeks out individuals that can provide this type of great customer service experience. While most businesses are not a theme park, people still have interaction with others, and the type of customer service provided is very important for the long-term health of the organization.

The old cliché of "The Customer is Always Right" seems to have been thrown out the door for most companies today. I am not saying the customer is always right but what seems to have gone out is the attitude that business employees need to be nice to customers, regardless if the customer is right or wrong. Some organizations have forgotten what has put bread on the table. Maybe it is because as a society we tend to think that the world owes us something. This seems to be prevalent from the top people at some of the largest corporations to the workers themselves. It is as though there is so much emphasis on the short term bottom line that companies squeeze and squeeze at the expense of the customer. Maybe this occurs due to the hierarchal structure for most corporations today. Shareholder profits have pushed aside the long-term health for a company.

I can think of many experiences over the years where I simply stopped going to a place of business because of poor customer service. Either the workers were not very friendly, or not informed, or both.

In an e-commerce world the impact of good or bad customer service can be felt in quite a few ways. One of the ways customer service can be felt is the aspect of a website. There are significant differences between what a B2C website needs to provide versus what a B2B website should provide. While both need to provide information to the customer, the information for the B2B customer maybe a lot more specialized. A large segment of the B2B world is dealing with engineers that are searching for information about a product or service they need for their next stage assembly or new product. How the website displays that information can be the first contact an individual has with a company. Once contact is made with the website, it may take a few or many visits stretched out over time in order to digest the information before an email or phone call connection is placed to the company.

During the connection process, customer service is of prime importance. How well a company handles communications on an ongoing basis can make or break the sale. Because of the nature of B2B, the rewards for good customer service can earn a customer for life. Like-wise, poor service can loose a customer for life. The financial impact of just one B2B customer can be significant compared that of one B2C customer. For this reason, business-to-business needs to give the attention to customer service to be successful in the long run.

B2C also needs to establish a foundation of good customer service from which consumers first and foremost are looking at trust. The impact of a website can make or break that very first bridge of trust. If a B2C company breaks the trust barrier then it is very difficult to earn that trust back.

The Internet will continue to expand our horizons. Information will be at the forefront, and just like televisions being in 98% of homes in 2001, the Internet will have such a huge impact on the population that we can only imagine what it will be like for our grandchildren. For any business today, not to place any thought into their web presence would be foolish indeed.

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