What does a fortune 500 company do when it wants to purchase new computers for its 1000+plus employees?
For an order that large, don’t expect them to send an office manager to iPrice. Not when they can directly order them from one of the companies that manufacture computers.
When a business or company gets into business with another business or company, that’s B2B.
As a business person targeting other businesses, that means you have to figure out how to best market your products or services to other companies.
In comes marketing, specifically B2B marketing.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is a marketing practice where businesses or organisations market their products or services to other companies or organisations to resell, use, or support their work.
B2B and B2C marketing’s key distinction is that while B2C marketing focuses on the consumer, B2B marketing targets businesses.
It also differs from B2C marketing in the sense that it’s more logical, informational, and straightforward. The reason being businesses base their decisions on the bottom-line revenue impact.
In other words, it’s all about the returns they’re getting and little about the emotional roller-coaster.
Who Engages in B2B Marketing
B2B marketing is a marketing practice for companies that want to sell to other companies. The products sold come in many forms, SaaS subscriptions, tools, security solutions, office supplies, raw materials, accessories, and so on.
An organisation can still fall under the B2C and B2B umbrella.
Real-world Example of B2B Marketing’
To understand B2B marketing, you have to look into the value chain. Everything starts with consumer demand, with dozens of products or services required in between.
Let’s take a simple example of a shirt. No shirt company is an island. They have to go into business with a series of other businesses before they’re finally able to produce a shirt that you can buy.
First, they have to get cotton or any other fabric that they can weave into the shirt. That makes them a target customer to fabric companies.
It’s a long chain of complexities – starting with the cotton, then going to spinners, weavers, tailors, and distribution, before the shirt finally gets to the consumer. All the people or companies involved adds value to the previous product, hence the name “the chain of derived demand.”
Businesses buy these products to add value to them and move them down the demand chain until they reach the consumer.
B2B Marketing vs. B2C Marketing
B2B Marketing and B2C marketing aren’t the same or a slight variation of each other. But two different marketing fields, with different strategies and applications.
First, B2C marketing targets the interests, challenges, and needs of individuals. B2B companies, on the other hand, make purchases on behalf of their organisations or for themselves. So, technically, the organisation is the customer in this.
Examples of B2B marketing:
- A business that leases co-working space to freelances and remote teams – like WeWork
- On-demand order fulfillment, screen printing, and warehousing services – like Printful
- A software company with a SaaS product, such as lead generation software or a social media management tool such as Hootsuite
B2C marketing, on the other hand, targets the interests, challenges, or needs of individuals making purchases for themselves. In other words, the individual is the customer.
Examples of B2C:
- An e-commerce company selling a range of household commodities or products
- Music streaming services such as Spotify
- A brick-and-mortar store for fashion
The Difference Between B2B Marketing and B2C Marketing
Here’s a chart comparing the two:
What goals do they have?
B2B customers tend to be more interested in ROI. They’re more interested in making enormous returns for the investments they make
Customers want deals and to be entertained. They want to feel an emotional connection and have fun while at it
What motivates their Buying Decision?
B2B customers are motivated by financial incentives and logic.
Customers make their buying decisions based on emotions
What drives them?
B2B customers want to be educated. They want to learn and understand something. In comes B2B content marketing
Customers still appreciate education. But they’re more about connecting with you
What’s their preferred purchase process?
B2B customers are more direct. They’d rather engage salespeople and account manager directly, with no hoops
Customers don’t like it when you complicate the buying process. They prefer buying directly from you
What’s their purpose for purchasing your products and services?
B2B customers are all about sustainability and long-term contracts. They’re interested in long term relationships. They’re also more likely to make repeat purchases
B2C customers, on the other hand, aren’t interested in anything long term. But a solution or product that can sort out their immediate needs
The two might differ, but they do intersect at so many points. Meaning, a B2B marketer has so much they can learn from a B2C marketer, and vice versa.
B2B Marketing Strategies
We’ll try to uncover a few of these strategies and the specific target audience you can reach with each one of them.
But before we get to that, we’d like to expose you to the B2B buyer’s journey.
B2B Buyers’ Journey
It’s a five-stage process that begins with customer awareness.
Awareness ~> Consideration ~> Decision ~> Purchase ~> Retention ~> Advocacy
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.
Overall, it is important to understand these steps throughout 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 Email Marketing
Here’s what makes B2B email marketing interesting?
Email marketing is actively used by 93% of marketers.
Email marketing has better engagement, which translates to more leads and customers.
But unlike B2C email marketing customers who are all about emotions and entertainment, B2B email marketing customers respond best to logic. They’re all about positive ROI.
Essentially, all you’ll be doing is helping them understand how your business is likely to help them grow and generate more revenue.
The emails you send must resonate with your B2B customers while also focusing on things that matter to them. In which case, B2B customers only care about money, time, and resources.
More Stats on This:
- Newsletters are standard with B2B companies, used by about 83% of B2B companies.
- 40% of B2B marketers say newsletters play a central role in their B2B content marketing success.
Best B2B Email Marketing Practises:
Attention-grabbing subject line: Always thinks of your headline as Netflix trailers. How best can you capture your prospects’ attention? The biggest mistake email marketers make is treat headlines as an afterthought.
We suggest you spend as much time as you spend on writing the actual email in writing headlines.
- Only One CTA Per Email: Don’t confuse your subscribers by having more than one CTA. We suggest you stick with only one CTA per email. Try to be straightforward with what you want them to do or what link you want them to click instead of sending them in a link frenzy.
- Segment Your Emails: Don’t just mass shoot your email to everyone on your list. Instead, try to segment them based on what stage they’re in the sales funnel. Not only will this help you relate with your target audience, but it will also give your email the much-needed personal touch.
- Use Responsive Email Designs: Your emails will mostly be read on mobile. And any email that fails to load up on mobile correctly is likely to be ignored or deleted almost immediately.
- It’s Okay to Cold-email: There’s nothing wrong with cold-pitching your B2B prospects. As long as the pitch is right and your products and services are the real deal, there’s a fair chance of it landing.
B2B Digital Marketing
Whether B2B or B2C, your business needs a solid digital presence.
This includes paid ads, a website, search engine optimisation, and any other digital channel with your prospects.
Here are a few digital marketing tactics to employ in your B2B marketing strategy:
Define Your Target Audience: That’s where it all begins. You need to define your target audience by creating a buyer persona. The psychographic and demographic information you collect at this point is to inform every other digital marketing activity you engage in.
Create Your Website: You need a professional and well-designed website to represent your business online. Keep in mind that 80% of customers will want to check out your website before deciding on anything.
Remember: the B2b sales cycle involves a long list of key players (decision-makers, gatekeepers, and other folks). So, you want to make sure your website is easy and straightforward for everyone involved in the decision-making process.
Optimise Your Digital Presence
Your website must be engaging, informative, and (most importantly) discoverable.
This can only be achieved through on-page, off-page, and technical SEO tactics.
- On-page SEO includes everything you do to your site to make it discoverable in the search engine result pages. It involves things like page speed, alt-text, meta descriptions, and structured data, among others.
- Off-page SEO is of the same importance here. It refers to the external links that your site gets from other sites, as well as social sharing.
Run PPC Campaign
PPC campaigns allow you to reach new customers on search engines.
They allow you to place your content on top of search engine pages, where they can be easily be found.
Maximise your PPC investment by advertising your brand personality, company tagline, and social media content more than your specific products and services.
B2B Content Marketing
B2B customers, like we said, tend to be more concerned with expertise, logic, and desire to learn or be educated.
Now, what marketing tool satisfies these priorities better than B2B content marketing?
First, content marketing doesn’t interrupt customers’ day to day activities with promotional materials. Instead, it’s meant to inform the customer by supplying them with valuable information – precisely what B2B prospects want from you.
Content marketing works for SEO. First, you have to anticipate what your target audience queries into search engines, and using SEO (and PPC), help them discover your content (or website), and ultimately convert them to customers.
80% of B2B consumers say they prefer to get information via content and no ads.
Here’s how a B2B buyer’s journey looks like:
B2B Social Media Marketing
Here are some interesting stats for you:
84% of C-suite executives and 75% of B2B customers use social media to make their buying decisions.
You read it right: social media isn’t just for businesses looking to connect with customers – but also for brands looking to connect with other brands.
However, for B2B marketers, social media is the hardest channel to connect with business customers – especially because it has one of the most prolonged sales cycles and chain of command you’ll ever come across.
Social media is also not where the bulk of your customers convert. But it’s a powerful marketing tool, especially at the beginning of your customers’ buyer’s journey.
Developing a B2B Marketing Strategy in 5 Easy Steps
B2B marketing isn’t exempted from this.
You’ll be competing against a multitude of other B2B marketers, and the only way to beat them and stand tall is by developing a results-driven marketing strategy.
This is not something you can pull out of thin air. Everything has to be thoughtfully planned, executed, and managed.
Here’s a well-thought-out process you can use to develop a solid B2B marketing strategy:
Step 1: Define Your Business Objectives
There’s no strategy without a goal in mind. What do you wish to achieve by the end of it all? What are your business objectives? You want to paint a clear picture of where you want the strategy to take you. Lay down a clear framework with specific and measurable goals you can track.
Step 2: Define Your Market
After analysing your business internally and establishing your goals and objectives, it’s time to shift your focus to your target market and audience. While a B2C marketer will have a more general and broader audience, B2B markets tend to be more concentrated and distinct. They’re a bit narrow, which makes them easy to define and reach.
The best approach would be to create a buyer persona for this – based on your research, analysis, and the people you’ve interviewed or interacted with. You have to compile different attributes that you can use to match your prospects and qualify them.
Step 3: Identifying Your B2B Marketing Channels and Tactics
After gathering enough intel on your target audience, the next thing you want to do is determine how to reach them and where. The information you collected from the previous step should guide you on this.
But first, here are some of the questions you need to answer about your ideal prospects and customers:
- Where do your B2B customers spend the bulk of their time online?
- What questions are they querying into search engines?
- Which social media channel are they most active on?
- What opportunities are your competitors leaving open, and how do you intend to fill the gap?
- What industry events are they fond of?
Step 4: Gather all the Resources You’ll Need
Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Keep in mind that each channel has its own best practices.
Most importantly, you want to work on the message that you want to see your team spread, which is typically tied to your desired action.
Your strategy must comprise of a creative approach, sophisticated targeting, useful insights, and most importantly, a compelling CTA.
Step 5: Measure and Improve
B2B marketing is an ongoing process. It’s your job to make sure that everything stays on track, come what may.
You have to track and analyse everything — starting with the best performing content on your website. Why is it performing?
The same applies to low-performing content.
Why is it so?
Analytics should inform every decision you make. At first, there’ll be a lot of guesswork, but the more you gain substantiative data on engagement and conversion, the more you’ll be able to make calculated adjustments and moves.
Types of B2B Marketing
With B2B marketing, you’re not just limited to one approach or channel. You have options.
That said, here are a few common types of B2B marketing strategies and channels:
- Blogs: Blogs are a mainstay for almost any content marketing strategy. Blogs are essential for SEO. They drive inbound traffic, thus increasing your online visibility. Blogs can accommodate any content: written copy, infographics, case studies, videos, and so on.
- Search: Google’s algorithm changes a lot, and so are SEO best practices. It’s a complicated territory to operate in when you come to think about it. But it’s something you’d want to account for. As it turns out, the focus has lately been shifting away from metadata and keywords and more towards searcher intent signals.
- Social Media: You’re to establish a presence on social media. Speaking of which, you need both paid and organic social media traffic. Social media platforms allow you to engage your prospects where they’re most active. Moreover, B2B buyers find these channels more conducive for researching potential investors.
- Whitepapers/eBook: These are standalone assets with valuable information to B2B customers. They’re downloadable documents that can either be gated or ungated.
- Videos: Videos are the fastest-growing type of content. They work with almost any marketing channel out there (blogs, emails, and social media).
- Email: Spamming and inbox shock may be a real thorn in the flesh of email marketing. But that’s not to say that email marketing will be going away any time soon. When dealing with an overloaded inbox, you should consider working with LinkedIn In Mail – a perfect email marketing tool for lead generation.
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.