As a business operating in the market, you will encounter all sorts of customers. These might differ in their gender, ages, professions and even nationalities. To effectively attract these people to your brand and also to meet their specific requirements, it would be a smart strategy to market your product or services to each of these consumer groups separately, in a manner which best suits their needs. However, in some cases, your customers will not only be private individuals but other businesses, who are willing to buy your product or avail your service. Hence, the marketing strategies to attract this market segment of other businesses would be different to those employed for basic consumer markets. Thus, mapping B2B marketing activities to the buyer’s journey has proven to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities by 80% (protocol80).
Understanding B2B marketing
Whether you are a car seller selling your cars to other businesses or a computer retailer seeking to strike a deal of 100 computers for a new office opening up, you must remember that selling to a business is different. As a car seller, you will design separate brochures for selling to businesses and perhaps, advertise different sorts of cars to them. Similarly, as computer retailer, the way you deal with a business would be different to how you interact with a normal customer visiting your retail shop to purchase a personal computer. However, despite the differences between business to business marketing (B2B) and business to customer marketing (B2C), the main idea remains the same: attract the customer.
Why is B2B marketing important?
It should not matter whether you are a small family owned business or a multinational company, business to business marketing is important for you. The business to business market is large, exceeding the consumer market in dollar value.
Even companies like General Electric and IBM spend an estimated $60 million a day on goods that support the operation of their business.
Hence, it ensures that the demand in the market is ensured and keeps on rising, offering businesses greater opportunities to sell their products and services.
It is pertinent to note that B2B marketing is important for businesses selling those products, such as coal or steel, which can only be used by other businesses in their production process. These may have no practical use for customers until processed. However, B2B marketing also applies to other companies such as Dell Computers. They sell both similar and different range of products to customers and other businesses.
How are B2B markets different from consumer markets?
There are several ways B2B markets are different from the traditional markets. Consequently, demand marketers to devise separate well-thought-out strategies for them.
Good Personal Relationships
It is important to have a good relationship with your customer. However, it becomes paramount when dealing with a B2B market. Building personal relationships with other businesses ensures a loyal and committed customer base for a longer time. Additionally, this also means more budget must be allocated towards the hiring of sales and technical specialists for B2B markets. This personnel must not only stick to a quantity-driven approach like in consumer markets but also cultivate a long-lasting business relationship. Business events and trade shows, that offer opportunities for different businesses to interact, are pertinent in building a B2B customer base.
Complex decision making
When it comes to businesses, decision making is complex and based on rational principles rather than emotions. If you are an individual looking for a new car to buy, there might be several factors affecting your decision: which is the most economical or in a prettier color. However, in the case of businesses, the decision to buy a transportation vehicle is more complex and depends more on utility rather than color or personal preference of one individual. Moreover, when dealing with B2B marketing it is also important to consider who is making the decision. Hence, B2B marketers have to deal with a consumer, who is multi-faceted as well as knowledgeable about the product. This means that the marketing department dealing with B2B marketing must be both patient and experienced.
The right channels
Channels to approach a business would be different to those used for approaching a traditional customer. A business insurance is generally not advertised on national television like health insurance, for example. Nor is a tractor used in a farm marketed in the same way as your favorite brand of chocolate.
You will also find B2B buyers more demanding than B2C buyers. This is simply because their decision affects the revenues and costs of their business. This means greater risk and more rational decision making. Moreover, considering that your customers are businesses themselves they would always want to strike a deal which is beneficial for them in some way. For instance, offering them an opportunity to purchase in bulk or a certain discount which lowers the cost for them would be great. Hence, as a B2B marketer, your job is not only limited to meet the target customer’s needs. It is also to ensure that the product is made attractive to them through the right kind of promotions.
What customers are targeted through B2B marketing?
It would be rather simplistic to state that B2B marketing deals with marketing products to other businesses. One must also consider the large number of categories these businesses might fall into; meaning that as a marketing manager of Dell Computers you need to design a separate plan to market your products to different kind of businesses.
Businesses who would purchase the product or service in order to use it in their production process.
For instance, a construction company would purchase steel for building bridges and Nestle would buy a water bottle making machine from a manufacturer to use it for storing its mineral water.
They are constantly buying goods and services from other private businesses. Hence, form a large part of the B2B market.
Wholesalers, brokers and investors
They must also be targeted differently, considering that their main aim of purchasing a property is for resale.
Non-governmental and welfare institutions such as hospitals and schools
They also fall under the B2B market and care must be taken while targeting them.
The most efficient way to meet the needs of these groups is to ensure that as a marketer you advertise your product not only in an informative but in a creative manner as well. This also involves understanding the customer’s need for that specific product and then building a marketing strategy which offers the clients solutions to their everyday problems. Considering that B2B marketing is rather specialized, it becomes increasingly important to pay attention to what your customer, other businesses in this case, really want.
What are the 5 most important tips for B2B marketers?
As markets are becoming more competitive through the use of technology and effective marketing strategies by specialized marketers, surviving in a B2B market has become harder. With the digital world becoming more complex as a result of the emergence of multiple channels such as social media, websites and emails, information now flows more freely than before. One mistake by a business could be the main subject of many tweets and Instagram posts the next day. Moreover, this ease of information has allowed new brands to emerge and market their product more freely. Hence allowing the consumer, whether it is a traditional customer or another business, more choices. This had made B2B marketing more challenging. Thus, it demands more skill and creativity on part of the marketers. Below is a list of five B2B marketing trends that are vital to follow.
#1 Listening rather than telling
Almost every business dealing with B2B marketing has a social media presence in today’s technology-savvy world. It is a great way to reach your target audience and educate them about the product or service that you are offering. Many B2B marketers use it as an appropriate channel for disseminating information through blog posts, press releases and webinars on their social media handles. Although this is important for creating awareness about your brand, another thing which is equally important is to allow discussion or an exchange of informative dialogue on your business social media accounts. Rather than only allowing a one-way flow of information, a freer flow must be encouraged.
What can B2B marketers do?
In other words, this implies allowing people to engage in meaning full conversations. Hence, you must answer complaints and queries on your social media profiles. Also, encouraging constructive feedback and appreciating your customers is also important. This is perhaps why giveaways or online competitions are popular for triggering discussion among your customers about your product or service. As a B2B marketer, you should find social media content creators and people who can continuously engage your target customer base on all your social media accounts. This includes discussions on both LinkedIn and Facebook, simultaneously.
You might be wasting a lot of marketing money if you are not targeting your customers in the right manner. The key is narrowing down your audience based on their diverse demographics, through hyper-targeting. There are several strategies a B2B marketer could opt for in this regard.
What can B2B Marketers do?
For instance, it would be a great idea to start a mobile geo-fencing campaign on a trade show. It is cheaper than spending loads of money on buying an expensive booth. Plus, you can also reach most of your customer base through this method. You can also use the same geo-tagging technology in mobile phones to invite people to the after-party. Perhaps also set up meetings for later on. In addition to this, you can also target a specific list of people on twitter for your B2B Marketing campaign.
As a business, you would often get a chance to collaborate with other businesses on different projects. It would always be a great idea to showcase your partners on your social media accounts. It shows that your business is well-connected. Buying a product or service from you would not only be a mere business transaction but an opportunity to connect. This is a great way to build long-lasting relationships.
What can B2B marketers do?
An interesting idea would also be to share your partners’ social media profiles and offer discounts to all those who follow them. Your partners may even return the favor, bringing good business to everyone.
#4 Engage in current affairs
A lot is happening in the world today that you need to comment on. It allows your customers the opportunity to humanize your business and see it in a positive light. Moreover, remember better engagement with your customers involves learning about what they want from you and understanding their underlying motivations and concerns.
What can B2B marketers do?
Whether it is the latest election results or an environmental issue everyone is talking about, engage in the discussion.
#5 Visual content
70% of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their entire purchase process (protocol80). Customers are generally more impacted by a powerful picture or video message rather than a long post. About 54% of B2B marketers said they’ve generated leads from social media strategies while posting with compelling visuals and graphics could help to increase that number even more for your company (Salessaladin). Thus, a visual message is informative and more effective in generating likes as compared to a lengthy written post.
What can B2B marketers do?
Hence, create content that is laden with visual guides and images to make it more attractive to your customers.
To sum it all up, B2B marketing is not only about advertising your product to the target audience. It is also about ensuring that their needs are understood and a more efficient marketing strategy is designed to meet their needs. This involves making use of the available technological resources and expertise in a better manner. Hence, do better B2B marketing to generate more sales, acquire a loyal customer base and healthy B2B relationships.