How the 2016 U.S. Open taught me about the difference between B2B and B2C media

By Adam Asadorian, Digital Media Intern

If someone were to ask you how business-to-business (B2B) marketing and media differs from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing and media, what would you say? It wasn’t until I got to North Coast Media that I asked myself this question. I began researching the difference, but it wasn’t until my first few days at North Coast Media that I really could grasp what it all meant to the business world.

If you’re new to the B2B world or considering a job in this area, one of the quickest ways to see the difference is by comparing the coverage of a major event or news story to that of a B2C.

During my first two weeks on the job, the major event that was taking place was the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. This was an amazing opportunity for me right out of the gate working with Golfdom magazine, a B2B publication. I quickly realized that the B2B operation in front of me was entirely different than any type of media that I had come across before as a consumer.

To break down the differences in these techniques, I compared what I was seeing this year with Golfdom to what I have seen in past years with ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Here are just a few points, along with social media examples, that I picked out about each of the different types of media:

1. ESPN, B2C

Perhaps the most well-known media source for sports fans around the world, ESPN’s main focus on this year’s tournament was the golfers participating and the final outcome. ESPN’s website includes stats, schedules, rankings and players. Prior to the tournament, they focus on who they believe will win and how each player could benefit from a solid finish in the Open. While the actual event is taking place from Thursday to Sunday, ESPN gives the day-by-day highlights of every player and talks about who has impressed and who has disappointed.

When all is said and done, the winner of the U.S. Open and how the tournament coverage is displayed to a dedicated audience of golf fans is what really matters to ESPN.

2. Sports Illustrated, B2C

Sports Illustrated is one of the most popular magazines for all major sports in the United States. They cover every detail and drama that the tournament has to offer. Typically, they cover the players in-depth and mention anything that may come up that is out of the ordinary. This year for the U.S. Open, a main focus that Sports Illustrated had was on the TV coverage of Fox. Last year the coverage was referred to as “disastrous,” giving SI a story to write about prior to this year’s tournament. Other top stories they covered included the USGA rules fiasco and Dustin Johnson’s first major victory. Sports Illustrated covers human interest stories they believe are of interest to sports fans in general.

3. Golfdom, B2B

Golfdom is a magazine that offers news and insights to other businesses and individuals who own, manage and maintain golf courses. The posts that Golfdom creates mainly deal with course renovations, conditions, and the equipment used to perform different tasks on the course. This year with the U.S. Open, Golfdom seemed to do most of its work during the days leading up to the tournament. News dealt with the course conditions, the recent tree removal process that took place, and how the Oakmont CC grounds crew was handling the year leading up to this one weekend.

Overall, Golfdom is interested more in the U.S. Open process and every step that goes into preparing the course more than the golfers actually performing in the event.

As a consumer, I know that what matters most is how we benefit directly from something — in this case, if our favorite golfer won the tournament or if the USGA is living up to our standards — and that news is what B2C publications give us. On the consumer end we can lose sight of the process and hard work that contributes to the end result. Ultimately, B2B readers want the same things; they want information that can benefit them directly, but in their professional lives. This is the behind-the-scenes information B2C readers may miss. Following Golfdom as my B2B source was an eye-opening experience that made me appreciate the 2016 U.S. Open in a different way than ever before.

Adam Asadorian is a student at The Ohio State University majoring in business. He is also a lifelong golf fan. (Feature photo by Seth Jones.)