|Challenge The False Dichotomies Of Marketing
Being a marketing professor at a major business school, there are few questions from students that haven’t come up in one way or another over the years. By far the most common question I’m asked is about “B2C” (business-to-consumer) versus “B2B” (business-to-business) marketing. Typically, students assume that B2C and B2B marketing are vastly different, involving completely different approaches, frameworks and theories (and therefore what I just taught them about one type won't translate to the other). I struggle with such questions because I’ve never believed in this particular marketing dichotomy. After all, at the end of the day isn’t it just people who make buying decisions, use products and services and share their experiences with others? Yes, those people have different roles and motivations when they are making purchases for themselves versus in a professional capacity, but beyond this (and a few other fairly obvious distinctions) what’s really all that different? And given how people work, blending work time with leisure and family time, and how device-based multitasking means that they simultaneously wear their personal and professional hats, does this distinction make any sense?
In thinking about this, I realized that marketing as a discipline has a penchant for dichotomies. For the most part, I can see why we have them – they help us simplify things. But in a world with complex and fast-paced market environments and systems, does it make sense for us to always go for simplification? In fact, many of the dichotomies we have in marketing – including my pet peeve of B2C versus B2B – tend to be false dichotomies. They are false because they do not do justice to the complexity of the marketplace. They present a misleading version of the world in which things are either black or white, when in reality they are multiple shades of gray (or all the colors of the rainbow!). And, often enough, they allow for organization silos to flourish that stifle cross-functional collaboration, data sharing and, above all, performance.
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This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. You'll find a link to the original after the post.
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