Last Updated: November 14, 2020

A major component of effective marketing is understanding your audience, and tailoring your presentation to suit that audience. The differences surrounding target audiences usually require marketing teams to re-think their outreach strategies in distinct ways.

While B2B marketing often employs detailed and analytic presentations about value propositions and return on investment, B2C marketing often uses emotion-driven, catchy, impulse-based advertising to appeal to people’s desires.

However, most marketers and sales reps know that businesses don’t make the ultimate purchasing decisions—people do. Typically, B2C marketing targets a particular demographic such as 18-25 year-old women, or 35-50 year-old middle-class men who play golf. However, such demographics exist only in the abstract. A real-life 35-year-old man who likes to golf might have twin daughters, and a taste for musicals, expressing his preferences to sellers online. (See also Relationship Marketing)

Business-to-people (B2P) marketing takes note of such unique individuals, who will never be described in the market segmentation of an everyday B2C campaign. Those who engage in B2P marketing approach their business customers not as mere organizations, but as individual people with unique wants, expectations, and tastes.

Who employs B2P marketing?

Business-to-people marketing is conducted by any business willing and able to get feedback from individual customers, whether those customers are end consumers or other businesses with customers of their own. Some notable examples include:

Why use B2P marketing?

  • target the people who make business decisions
  • see past the business client to the customers of that client
  • use customers’ online activity to channel effective information
  •, which uses information about what a customer is looking at or has already bought in order to suggest other items
  • Dell Computers, which gives customers the option to “build their own computers” by making choices on a component basis
  • Nike shoes, which allows consumers to customize their Air Force Ones
  • Real estate brokers, who can use your IP address to suggest homes for sale in your area
  • Small businesses with Facebook fan pages, which can interact with fans on a one-to-one basis

For what kinds of customers is B2P marketing effective?

Modern information and communications technologies have eroded the old distinctions between home and marketplace. Today, many people have access to social media networks on a near-24/7 basis, allowing them to interact with businesses through their phones, laptops, and tablets.

B2P is effective for both businesses and consumers—so much so that some businesses may no longer observe the B2B/B2C distinction and just take a single B2P approach.

B2P in place of B2B marketing. Again, business decisions may be reached differently than individual buying decisions, but ultimately both types of decisions are made by people. Emotion and personal relationship play into both personal and business decisions. Thus, a B2P marketer will make personal contact with a business’ decision makers and find out what motivates them, what values and visions they have, and what the needs of their own customers are.

B2P in place of B2C marketing. Consumer segmentation can create plausible groupings of customers, but individual customers can use data to place themselves into even more unique categories. Online shopping enables customers to search for the information they need, according to highly personalized criteria. B2P marketing considers this when creating websites, anticipating questions customers might have about products, and creating options for customers to give specific feedback.

For example, some sites have a person-to-person chat option. Any customer who uses this option does not need to be talked into taking an interest in a given product; they’re already interested, and want to know more. B2P considers the question “What is the customer looking for?” instead of the old B2C question, “What can I convince the customer to buy?” (See also Inbound Marketing)

How is an effective B2P marketing campaign developed?

Before the Internet, marketing communications were primarily one-way: The business simply advertised the products and services they offered prospective customers. Today, this communication is a two-way street, with customers actively asking more specific questions about a company’s products and services. The online shopper isn’t simply hoping for information and transparency from a business—they’re expecting it.

Crucial Elements of B2P Marketing

  • Leverage social media
  • Produce ongoing content for your website(s)
  • Create a channel for customer suggestions and activity
  • Discover and answer the questions that customers have about your product, services, and website

Business websites must be built to respond to the customer. Thus, the goal is to tailor the information and experience according to each person’s preferences. When the funding and technology is available, the website can use information about the customer’s location (from their IP address), their browsing history (from tracking cookies), and activity on your site (which can be tracked without cookies) to determine what information appears to them.(See also Closed-Loop Marketing)

Smaller businesses may not have the wherewithal to create such a site. However, what they can do is manage a business fan site—through a Facebook page, for example. Companies of all sizes should have some means of receiving customer communications, such as an online chat option or a forum on a site.

An effective B2P campaign must engage people through social media. Which type(s) of social networking websites used will be dictated by who a company markets to. If a business markets directly to consumers, sites like Facebook and Bebo are useful; if they target business professionals and innovators, LinkedIn, Innocentive, and TopCoder are better options.

These websites provide users a place to share thoughts and contribute to discussion; so whichever social media a company uses, it’s important engage in dialogue with users. Paying attention to users’ contributions to these sites reveals what consumers think about a business, and what they want from it. Independent of advertising, different users will discuss the values of products and services—and their disappointments as well. A company’s participation in these sites allows them to respond directly and immediately to consumer wants and needs. (See also User-Generated Marketing)

What career titles work with B2P marketing strategies?

Marketing Managers

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $116,010
  • Internet Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $92,000
  • Market Research Analyst
    Median annual pay: $60,570
  • estimate the demand for products and services that their organization can offer (and at what price)
  • identify market trends, including how and why people’s buying patterns change
  • brief their teams on findings
  • monitor and promote the company’s social media
  • open lines of communication with individuals and businesses
  • oversee the daily operations of the marketing staff
Education and Skills

Most marketing managers have at least a bachelor’s degree (often in marketing, advertising, or business management), as well as substantial experience in their industry. Education preparing them for this career will include classes in marketing, market research, statistics, psychology, and consumer behavior. Additionally, future marketing managers often pursue and complete an internship while still in school.

Internet Marketing Manager

What do they do?
  • identify potential online markets, and track trends and changes in online commerce
  • promote expansion of online business, and use of social media
  • track how people are responding to the company website and internet communications
  • initiate and analyze market research, then brief their teams on findings and opportunities
  • work with the company’s website development team to further enhance the user experience
Education and Skills

Internet marketing managers should have at least a bachelor’s degree (often in marketing, advertising, or business management) and substantial successful experience in online commerce (including advertising and sales). They should be familiar with how to leverage social networking sites, viral marketing, and affiliate marketing strategies. Education preparing them for this career will include classes in marketing, market research, statistics, microeconomics, consumer behavior, and internet law.

Market Research Analysts

What do they do?
  • use a variety of methods (including interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups) to find out what people think about and want from their business
  • gather data about a company’s online business, and how people are responding to its business and social media pages
  • analyze data, employing statistical methods and software
  • distill and communicate findings to their organization, using charts, graphs, and other means
  • forecast future trends, needs, and opportunities based upon collected data
Education and Skills

Market research analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in market research or related field, such as statistics or computer science. Many jobs also require a master’s degree, particularly leadership positions or positions that engage in more technical research. Many complete internships while in school, and may gain additional experience in jobs which require collecting and analyzing data and writing reports.

How can a marketing school help you in this field?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

B2P marketing is about recognizing customers—whether business clients or end consumers—as people, and responding to their needs. To do so effectively, a marketer must be aquire a number of different skills through a marketing eduaction program.

Marketing programs teach students how to acquire useful data, which in turn helps them understand customers and their decisions. A marketing school trains students to research, collect data, and analyze statistics so they can paint a clear picture of a market’s needs, preferences, and habits. This training includes some knowledge of psychology, in order to better understand how people interpret communication and make decisions. (See also Consumer Psychology)

Communications skills are an essential component of conducting business and maintaining relationships. Therefore, students also learn and hone a variety of presentation skills. Students discover ways to approach to communication differently depending on their audience — whether implementing marketing campaigns for businesses or consumers.

Finally, computer and technology courses help them understand the Web 2.0 world. Unlike the early days of the Internet, where information was provided by fewer groups, most information in the Web 2.0 environment is added by end users. A college program will prepare future marketers to deal with this new and still-developing market environment.

To learn more about what a marketing school can do for you, request information from schools with degrees in marketing, and discover how they can respond to your individual needs.