B2B Marketing 101
B2B marketing has never been easy. With the number of people involved in the decision making process, the predictable slow pace of sales cycles, and often complicated technical specifications, it’s difficult to attract the attention of an environment (aka: your audience) that is overloaded with short attention spans, busy schedules, and limited budgets.
In the modern B2B marketing environment, customers have become much harder to reach by conventional sales methods, and traditional approaches are losing their effectiveness. In addition, there is also the influence of social media consumption to factor in. This makes marketing to a B2B customer a brand new ball game—how does a business know what B2B customers value, and how should they connect with them?
Marketing to the Collective
B2B customers are vastly different than B2C customers. First of all, B2B customers have a more complex decision-making unit that is composed of multiple people who are making decisions on behalf of the whole company (as opposed to an individual who makes decisions for themselves or a household)—these people may include board members, managers, and experts or consultants in certain areas. Since businesses need to go through multiple levels of approval, marketing to a B2B customer to make a sale is a lengthy task.
While the regular customer happens to be fickle and buys based on want due to a different marketing strategy, B2B customers tend to be long-term buyers and buy based on need rather than want. The reason for this is that the B2B market is a lot smaller than the consumer one; even large B2B companies have 100 or fewer customers that drive sales. Knowing this, it should be easier for businesses to market to B2B customers—or is it?
You’re (Kind Of) Unique
B2B products and services tend to be a lot more complex than products and services being sold to customers. While consumer products are standardized, such as a smartphone or a television, a B2B product or service needs to be custom made to fit to the specific B2B customer. This means that creating a product or a service specifically for a B2B customer can take a longer period of time as well.
Although personal relationships in B2B markets are more important due to its smaller size, it seems that important marketing messages are lost to B2B customers—according to this study, no global B2B company stated any affiliation with brand themes such as “first in well with my values and beliefs” and “is a leader in the field”, raising the question: how valued do B2B customers feel?
Bridging The Gap
Given that B2B marketing from start to finish is a rather lengthy process, finding a marketing theme that will connect to B2B customers and making them feel as valued as a regular consumer should be central to your B2B marketing efforts. That means you need a message that is vastly different from your consumers—in this example, saying the same thing that your competitors are saying won’t tip the scales in favor of them buying your products and services.
According to Pareto’s principle, 20% of your efforts lead to 80% of your results. When applied to business and sales, that means that the 20% represents the most loyal customers, those who provide consistent revenue and are easy to work with. That means that their business is guaranteed, and like in consumer marketing, this 20% can also help you network with more clients to make sure your B2B marketing efforts get noticed. In fact, it can actually be beneficial to let go of some of your customers so you can deliver a more quality product to the 20% that will buy your products and services. Customers that you should let go of include ones that don’t contribute to the bottom line as much or are problematic to deal with.
Taking Care Of Business
B2B customers are essentially what businesses want the ideal consumers to be like, however, you should also apply marketing techniques that are used in consumer marketing as well to B2B customers, or even try out something new—human to human (H2H) marketing, which encourages better relationships with said customers. Establishing relationships is very important in B2B marketing and you should encourage your sales and technical teams to make a lasting impression on your customers, as they will be spending a lot of time encouraging the customers to buy your products and services. This makes for a successful B2B marketing strategy.
Megan Ritter is an online business writer with a background in media marketing. In addition to sharing her knowledge about the importance of business communications, her writing also covers business tech, social media and content marketing, and the impact of globalization. Connect with Megan on Facebook and Twitter.