For most business owners, the question of business model is fairly straightforward. You are either serving other businesses (B2B) or you are serving consumers (B2C). As a business consultant as well as co-owner of a fine art photography business with my husband, I thought I had this all figured out. I knew where each of my business interests was focused.
What IS the difference between B2B and B2C?
As it turns out, surprisingly little. As I bounced back and forth between the two, I began to realize that there was not much difference between the way I connect with my business clients and the way I connect with those interested in our photography. But everything I read told me there ought to be. Dear Marketing Experts / Gurus / Mavens / Ninjas: I respectfully disagree.
What became crystal clear to me is that there really is no B2B or B2C. There is only P2P – People to People.
All business is People to People.
In fact, all of life is People to People. We spend a lot of time deciding our business name, crafting taglines and slogans, developing mission statements and value propositions – all in an effort to show the world how very unique and special we are, why we’re worthy of notice and interest and purchase. And then we choose to define ourselves with the impersonal tag of B2B or B2C? Call me crazy, but it seems incredibly counter-intuitive and counter-productive. And such an awful way to think not only of those we serve but of ourselves! Is that what we really want to be in the world – “just” a business, dealing with other nameless, faceless businesses and consumers of our offerings? None for me, thank you, I’m full.
I am a real, live person working with real, live people. I’ve always tried to let my personality shine through in my communications, knowing that some people will “get” me, and some, wearing their no-nonsense corporate game face and wanting me to do the same, will probably not. I’m okay with that. I did my time in that prison. Happy to see daylight.
If you’re wondering why you are struggling with the prospects and clients you are attracting, take this little nugget of wisdom from an incredibly empowering book I highly recommend – The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms – and ponder it for a bit:
You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge.
How very important it is, then, to choose your tribe wisely! Author Danielle LaPorte goes on to say:
People, clients, customers, and audiences say Yes! when they can relate to your vibration.
And how hard it is to maintain a false vibration!! Wait – did I say hard? I meant impossible! As in, can’t be done. Not for the long haul. And you’re in it for the long haul, aren’t you?
When I thought of myself as a B2B company, it seemed required that I take every opportunity that came my way. I felt obligated to spend 30, 45, even 60 minutes on the phone (early on, I actually even did this in person, if you can believe it), allowing strangers to pick my brain – a brain I had spent literally a lifetime filling with experience, knowledge, and my own unique and thoughtfully considered opinions, philosophies, and methods. I allowed clients – good-paying clients as well as near-deadbeat clients – to set the tone and pace of my days. I set no boundaries – the thinking being that I was a business and they were clients or prospective clients, and if I wanted their business I would just have to do whatever it took to get it – and keep it. Needless to say, I wasn’t the happiest of entrepreneurs.
Now I (once again) think of myself as a person. Sounds silly, I know, but I was so happy when I re-branded my business with my own name – it was a turning point, really. There was no place to hide. I gave up the corporate “we” in my writing – so foolish, really – holdover “business advice” from the 1980s – “Act bigger than you actually are. It will instill confidence in your business!” Who really wants to be a corporate entity? And really – who actually prefers DEALING with a corporate entity, instead of a real, live person?
Be a person who is in business to help other people and you will find the Universe conspiring to see that everything else falls into place for you.