Direct-Response Sales Copy – The Difference Between B2C And B2B

Direct-Response Sales Copy – The Difference Between B2C And B2B


Office Building

After last month’s post on what makes a good direct-response sales letter, I was asked an interesting question.

What about direct-response in the B2B sector?

Are direct-response sales letters even used in B2B?

The answer: Yes, they are, but there are some differences between B2C and B2B, and it comes down to the differences in your target audience.

Direct-response, by definition, is intended to produce an almost instant response from the reader via a call-to-action. As opposed to, say, an advertisement for something which only informs, but doesn’t demand any action from the target audience – or anyone else for that matter.

So, as I’ve said many times before, you need to know your audience to know what it is that’ll make them take the desired action.

Let’s do a quick comparison between B2C, and B2B:

B2C – an individual person, usually spending their own money:

  • Product driven
  • Mass market
  • Single step buying process – shorter sales cycle
  • Brand loyalty
  • People buy for emotional reasons like status, desire, price

B2B – a business, made up of many people, spending the company’s money:

  • Relationship driven
  • Small, focused market
  • Multi step buying process – longer sales cycle
  • Education and awareness building activities
  • Rational buying based on the needs of the business

When you want to sell to other businesses you have to remember that you’re not targeting just one person, or one type of person. There’s a whole buying team you need to appeal to.

But, they are people, so some of the rules do still apply. Just go easy on the emotional hype, it won’t work for business buyers.

A B2C direct-response sales letter often contains a certain amount of hype, to get the reader interested and excited about the product.

With B2B, the sales cycle is much longer, so the direct-response letters are aimed more at lead generation – and they are just one small piece of the complex lead-generation and selling process.

And as such, they are much shorter, but still need to have that call-to-action at the end. Although that action is more likely to be a request for more information.

Direct-response in B2B may not look like your standard sales letter.  Think white papers, sell sheets (a brochure targeted to one specific type of buyer), and case studies.

Here are the main differences:

  • Every member of your B2B audience has different reasons for buying. They can’t just buy because they like it, they have to consider the whole buying team.
  • A B2B audience has competing motives for buying. They need to think about the business’s bottom line, but they may also have personal reasons, like looking good to their superiors. A copywriter needs to address all those reasons.
  • The company you’re trying to sell to already knows they need the type of product or service you offer. You don’t have to convince them they need it, you have to convince them they need yours.
  • A B2C buyer can decide to purchase something on a whim. Not so the B2B buyers, they have to consider business needs, and personal needs. B2B is generally a much bigger financial risk, and the buyers are spending company funds, not their own.
  • Most B2C consumers are only interested in the benefits. With B2B you focus on the features, as well as the benefits.
  • Many people think B2B copy is short, and B2C copy is longer. Long form sales copy does exist in B2B but it’s broken up into smaller pieces because of the longer sales cycle. So you might have 15 pieces of different sales copy but they’re all selling the same thing. And they may be skewed toward different people because of the larger buying team. When it’s added up it can often be much longer than B2C copy.
  • There’s no fluff, or emotional hype in B2B copy. Every word matters and must give a lot of information in a shorter space.
  • B2B sales copy might be direct-response but the response is to generate leads, not to make the sale straight away.

I can’t say this enough times, to sell anything to anyone, you must first know exactly who you’re selling to. And make your sales copy applicable to your target market.

When you do that, the rest is easy.


Comments are closed.