You have just launched your first business. 6 Months passed, and still you are depending on referral contracts and accounts. Not even a single company has contacted you via your web page just yet, and you are wondering if you could even cover next month’s rent when you run out of contacts.
This is a problem that many businesses face, especially those that are dependent on high level contracts to continually sustain their business over the long run. You could plan out a B2B marketing strategy that can help identify potential tactics and actions your outfit can adopt, in order to rely less on referrals but on organic reach. This is ideal for Singapore SMEs and startups which does not have the infrastructure and funding for mass market marketing plans.
What we will discuss here:
- B2B Marketing: What is it?
- B2B Marketing: Who is it for?
- User Journey Cycle
- Who I target my B2B efforts towards to?
- B2B Strategies
- Latest Developments in B2B Marketing
- Planning an effective B2B Marketing Strategy
What is B2B marketing?
In summary, B2B marketing is about meeting the needs of companies. This involves selling of products and services for other companies. However, demand of these companies also depend highly on their own customers.
Have you ever considered how a Fortune 500 company is able to acquire equipment and resources to operate? In the most probable situation, they do not just call their supply manager to buy the items on Amazon or Ebay for an order that large. So how do they do it?
B2B marketing techniques and consumer marketing are relying upon the same basic principles, but different in terms of their processes. While consumers choose products based on various factors which includes price, popularity, reviews, and other emotional triggers, B2B buyers make decisions on price and potential returns alone.
Who should employ B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is about building a valuable relationship with a lasting customer that can be beneficial to your company for a long time. If you didn’t know, B2B market is the largest of all market, even exceeds the consumer market.
B2B marketing is largely adopted by the companies that make products that consumers don’t really have a use for, metal is one of the example.
To understand how the entire process of consumer’s buying behaviour are different between consumer market and B2B market, we use two simple charts to explain.
Customer Journey Maps
- Awareness – The Stage where customers become aware of the need for a particular service (Say Electrical Installation, Web Design, SEO etc.)
- Consideration – At this Stage, customers would begin to consider and compare between Service providers. It is therefore key to come-up with a strong list of considerations that customers would go through before deciding on a service provider.
- Purchase – Customers would then make a purchase decision at this stage.
- Retention – At this junction, customers would then decide if they would continually patronise the Service provider’s service, or change.
- Advocacy – A Lot of customers don’t make it to this stage too often, it is at this stage that the customer becomes a referral to you. (You can quickly achieve this stage by incentivising customers who refer)
This is a General User Journey Chart that is easily applicable to many businesses regardless of Industry. Below is a more in-depth User Journey Chart that is designed specifically for B2B.
- Definition of characteristics and quality
- Development of Specifications
- Search for qualification of the supplier
- Proposal or quote solicitation
- Evaluation of proposals and Supplier selection
- Selection of an order routine
- Performance evaluation & Feedback
Overall, it is important to understand these steps throughout a customers servicing journey so as to understand which point of interaction leads to higher conversions and sales. Therefore, it is highly recommended to perform an internal audit of how your customers would interact with your Company and the Market.
B2B Markets Have A More Complex Decision-Making Unit
Ordering products of low value and low risk (e.g. paper clip) may well be the responsibility of the supply manager. However, the decision making unit usually wants a good deal; production managers seek high throughput while risk management department always demand low risk.
Who should you target to with B2B marketing?
4 Prime Targets:
- Companies which may have needs to use your products. For example, if you are processor company, you may want to target computer manufacturers.
- Government sectors and the targets with the largest order capacity.
- Public Institutions like hospitals and schools.
- Brokers, wholesalers and other industry agents
B2B marketing strategies that helps you to succeed
- Strong presence on Search.
Actions: Making your business easily viewable by companies searching for service providers on your specific Industry is easily one of the most effective methods to generate business leads.
- Set up booths at popular trading fairs.
Actions: People at Trade fairs are there for Business and Networking. Be Outgoing and Chirpy about your Business to potential customers. (Popular Trade Shows: IT Show, Access MBA, Singapore Air Show)
- Send out newsletters frequently to maintain healthy relationship with clients and subscribers.
Actions: Setting up a Monthly Newsletter System would remind existing or previous customers that A. You Exist, and B. You are still in Business. Regardless, it is still important to provide customers with relevant information, otherwise they would add you to their spam folder. (Mailchimp is a good starting place for the setup of such a system.)
- Hosting seminars that provide Value-added Content to attendees. (ALOT of these seminars are boring Sales pitches, make sure your Seminar has real VALUE-ADD)
Actions: Talk to People in your Local Community and Organise talks and workshop sessions for them. This is to ensure that your brand is viewed as an authoritative figure in your respective industry, establishing trust and reliability. (TIP: Try meetup SG as a starting point)
- Attend worthy networking sessions to build up your connection.
Actions: If you are still a small business with a small portfolio, this is probably the most effective method for you. (TIP: Again, meetup SG is a good starting point.)
Powerful insights and trends of B2B marketing in 2018
- Customer experience balance
Companies have a tighter focus on improving their customer experience while trying to increase their sales. It is a balanced approach to build customer loyalty so as to achieve higher revenue.
- Executive branding
In a B2B environment, executive branding is now considered as a necessity as the pendulum swings dramatically from ‘command and control’ market to individuals. In consequence, traditional branding and digital marketing is longer sufficient.
- AI/ machine learning
In 2018, use of AI will continue to grow into the marketing field. This ensures these companies would have powerful insights before they make a move.
- Visual content
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube provide companies with endless possibilities in their marketing strategy. The creation of YouTube enables marketers to market their products and services through online videos, which are more engaging and interactive with potential consumers.
- Agile marketing
Agile marketing is an organizational strategy that drives growth through focusing team efforts on campaigns and resources that deliver value to the end-customer. This emerging practice in marketing applies key principles of agile software development to increase speed, quality, flexibility, and effectiveness of a marketing department. Every marketer wants to work smarter not harder, aren’t they?
How to plan an effective B2B marketing strategy?
Planning the campaign is equally important as realising the idea of it. Usually we tend to forget one important factor when comes to marketing effectiveness and that is: ‘timing’. What you need to do is understand your consumer behaviours, which may be something that you have already thought of: what time do they usually surf online; what time do they usually check their emails; their response period to your content and extra questions that you can think of. This area of research directly affects your campaign’s success, do conduct careful research and that is what your mother always tell you:’it is for your own good.’
Setting background for your campaign
Half of the businesses do not start with guidelines, do you?
- You need to know who are your target audiences, clearly.
- Develop a detailed SWOT analysis of your campaign idea and message.
- Develop a business case using sales funnel and LTV model.
- Use framework like RACE, The 5Ss or 5Ps to structure your thinking (click here to see their difference).
Building effective online presence
Create a website which you can test, learn and refine your approaches on your marketing strategy
- Use B2B personas, get reviews with a feedback tool.
- Review lead generation devices.
- Optimise customer journey.
- Balance between sell, inform and entertain.
- Google analytics]
Use long tail keywords which may help you target your market accurately
- Using decision maker to group your group target keywords.
- A clear key brand message for SERPs.
- Build quality backlinks by PR and outreach.
- When doing international marketing, always remember to set geographical region and localised metadata.
- Make a business case.
- Create a blog for all your contents.
- Contact relevant influence
Social Media Marketing
- Always ensure your copywriting is creative, useful and shareable.
- Find the most suitable social media platform for your company.
- Analyse whether it is working well using Google Analytics.
Lead generation and CRM
- Prominent triggers for your consumers across the site.
- Clever use of landing page.
- Welcome emails and profiles to build your relationship with your email list.
Evaluate and improvements
- With values assigned, set up goals and funnels.
- Find out which content is most effective with forward and reverse path analysis.
- Find out which content and method works the best with event tracking.
- Improve conversion on key pages by using content experiments.
In conclusion, there are many tactics one can adopt to further strengthen their B2B marketing including B2B digital marketing. We went through different Models of Analysis as well as Steps one can take to prepare a wholesome B2B Marketing Strategy.
It is imperative to look at the bigger picture before deciding on smaller tactics and actions, so as to achieve a Marketing Strategy that has both synergy and workability.
Thank you for reading through our guide on B2B Marketing. We hope that you do find some good use out of it at the end of the day.