What is a B2B Marketing Agency?

B2B may sound like a cute droid from Star Wars, but the reality isn’t quite as fun. B2B (Business to Business) marketing agencies are companies that work with companies that sell their services to other companies. Head spinning yet?

Let’s break it down. Most companies sell a product to a customer. These are called B2C (Business to Consumer) companies — for instance, a candy company that sells chocolate bars to kids. But now imagine you’re a company that sells HR software. Hungry kids don’t buy HR software, only other companies do. And you need to convince them to buy yours. Enter a B2B marketing company.

How B2B Agencies Work

  1. A B2B company focuses on rationality, not emotion

    To revisit the above example, it doesn't take much to convince someone to buy a candy bar. They're buying it for themselves. It costs $1.25. Bang — a sale. But what about when you're trying to convince an employee to buy software for their entire company — at $1,500 a month? Employees responsible for large purchasing decisions are looking for justified investments, not instant gratification. B2B agencies, therefore, have to present convincing, data-driven arguments to the relevant decision makers.

  2. They have to be patient

    B2B marketing agencies focus on closing long-term deals, not short-term impulse buys. When companies — especially large companies — evaluate services from other companies, the decisions have to go up and down a long chain of command, involving a lot of busy people. Gatekeepers kick up a product to accounting, who kick it up to management, and so on. The upshot is B2B marketing agencies send a lot of follow-up emails and don't expect immediate results.

  3. They work on relationships

    Between first email sent and last contract signed, B2B marketers build relationships with prospective clients. They need to provide answers, calm concerns, and occasionally negotiate terms. This means B2B agency representatives won't be replaced by chat-bots anytime soon, while their B2C counterparts may.

B2B Agency Best Practices

  1. Do enough homework to sound smart

    The B2B world is full of experts. If your B2B marketing agency can't talk knowledgeably about the product they're selling, they'll soon be sniffed out and dismissed by upper-level decision makers. Therefore B2B marketers need to, at the very least, simulate authority.

  2. Use B2C channels to achieve B2B sales

    Just because a marketing agency is selling B2B products doesn't mean it can ignore traditional B2C channels. A blundered B2B sales example would be when a representative for a large company finds out about an interesting B2B company on Producthunt, checks them out on Crunchbase, and then shoots them a message on Facebook. If there's not a marketing representative on the other end of that Facebook message, the lead is wasted.

  3. Don't ignore user feedback, especially the negative

    B2B marketing agencies act as the point person between two companies. Often times they receive product feedback from potential B2B clients who decided not to move ahead — but fail to communicate it to the company whose product they're marketing. This is a waste of valuable user feedback.