The real reason B2B buyers demand more detail & why the false pretence of buyer rationality is good news for your business


Far too much distinction is given to B2B vs B2C. The truth is that there is just marketing, and all the principles that make one brand successful in one market will make another successful in a different market.

That said, there are a couple of minor differences in B2B that are worth being aware of:

  • The first relates to the core driver of decision makers. Like all of us the typical business person is driven principally by fear. However, unlike in the consumer space it’s not so much a fear of regret, but rather a fear of blame. And if anything, that’s even more powerful. After all, we can always choose to forgive ourselves for making a bad purchase decision, but we can’t guarantee that our boss will. This fear of blame for most decision makers – admittedly business owners are a little different – is the single greatest influencing factor a marketer has to navigate. It’s also the reason why contrary to popular belief brand is so important in B2B, as brand is largely about risk mitigation. You may have heard of the phrase “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM”. Well if those 7 words don’t illustrate the power of brand, nothing ever will.
  • The second is the need for detail – it’s not that the typical B2B user is actually interested in the detail – some will be, such as engineers perhaps, just as some are in the consumer space, such as a petrol head researching a new car – but the reason why such a high proportion demand the detail is because of the first point – the fear of blame. They need to ensure that no matter what the outcome of the engagement, nobody could ever question their rigour or due diligence. The detail helps them rationalise the decision to themselves and their superiors. That’s it.
  • The third is a more positive one – you see because this false pretence of extreme buyer rationality has always been so dominant, most B2B brands are fantastically bad at targeting the emotional and self expressive drivers that underpin our decision making. Therefore, if you decide to be one of the rare B2B brands that behaves as if its customers are actually human, you’re likely to have a really loud voice.

See you next time.


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