What is B2B marketing?
B2B (Business to Business) marketing is what the name suggests; it is a method of generating interest in your company’s products and services from other businesses and organizations. Where B2C (Business to Client) marketing is directed from a business to their consumers, B2B marketing involves several differentiating facets, like bulk product sales, service licensing agreements, and allowing other companies to resell your packages to their unique consumers.
Because there is a level of education that needs to happen between the two entities, B2B marketing tends to be more informative and to-the-point than the playful, engaging nature of B2C content. B2B purchases tend to be at a much larger scale and typically between key stakeholders who have bottom-line business revenue and and ROI (return on investment) to keep in mind during the purchasing process.
What qualifies as B2B? Any company that sells a product or a service to another company, like SaaS (software as a service), accessories, cybersecurity, data tools, among many, many others. While some companies exist solely in the B2B space, many companies have both B2B and B2C factions of their business.
How B2B marketing works
- 1. A different sales approach
In addition to directly marketing to consumers, many companies establish marketing and sales teams dedicated to B2B. These teams establish relationships with other companies and organizations and look for ways sell products and services at bulk, discounted rates.
- 2. A win-win mindset
A company negotiates special rates for products and services that allows the purchasing companies to resell the products and services at a profit. It’s a win-win as both companies make profits and the selling company moves products and services more quickly.
- 3. Expanded product offerings
B2B allows purchasing companies to strategically expand their product offerings. A company may not be in a position to manufacture a product, but B2B gives them the power to add it their existing lines anyway.
- 4. A more narrow market
Where B2C products could attract a number of different buyers in various markets, B2B often narrows their efforts down to a distinct range of customers with a particular challenge in mind — something that another product or service can solve for.
- 5. A never-ending process
Until you have collected enough substantial data to draw inferences from and create campaigns around, B2B marketing is a lot of guesswork around testing, measuring, and making improvements. It is important to deduce between channel, audience, and market strategies.
- 6. A range of channels
Much like B2C marketing, B2B marketing encompasses all sorts of marketing channels, both online and offline. From search to social, email to out-of-home, blogs to billboards, both can be leveraged to meet your audience where they are and hit them with compelling, provocative messaging.
Why B2B marketing matters
- 1. It offers innovation
Companies can not only resell another company’s products at a profit, they can also expand their product offerings in ways that enhance their own brand and marketing efforts. B2B customers can develop into strong strategic partnerships.
- 2. It offers long-term possibilities
Establishing strong B2B relationships can provide long-term profit streams if the selling company successfully manages the relationships. Moving to an account-based marketing model puts the selling company in a good position to take advantage of long-term business opportunities.
- 3. It offers ownership
“White label” products and services allow B2B customers to purchase another company’s products and brand and market them as their own. This eliminates consumer confusion and presents a consistent brand identity.
- 4. It offers thought leadership
Thought leadership influences purchasing behaviors across the entire funnel, because it is often senior key stakeholders who are making those decisions. They tend to gravitate towards this type of content because they want to establish trust in the solutions they are buying.
- 5. It offers solutions
At the end of the day, though B2B reflects a business-to-business transaction, it is ultimately a transaction between two people looking to create a mutually beneficial partnership. The best B2B relationships create a solution in which both parties flourish.
- 6. It offers testing opportunities
There are so many ways your B2B strategy can take you — new channels to explore, new audiences to reach — and it makes for the perfect breeding ground for new channels, messaging, and moments to test against.
B2B Best Practices
- 1. Create a defined buyer persona
When you know where your audiences live, you can craft specific strategies around the channels and media they are apt to be on. The B2B audience involves a number of different decision-makers, stakeholders, and influencers, so it’s imperative to know exactly where they are to make strategic creative decisions around messaging and content placement.
- 2. Complete a thorough competitive analysis
Not only is it important to know who your competition is and what they are doing to differentiate themselves, but it’s important to create a competitor strategy that incorporates proven tactics that are working for your competition as well as new tactics that work uniquely for you. These channels include SEO, digital marketing, and social media content.
- 3. Back your strategy with data
When creating a thorough B2B strategic skeleton, it’s important to look at the data available to you, both proprietary and public, to draw important inferences and conclusions. When you match strategy with data, you have clear metrics to define success and areas for improvement.
- 4. Try, try again
When a strategy fails, go back to the drawing board. With B2B marketing being so nuanced, a lot of the early strategic stages rely on thoughtful guesswork. Data is your friend, and testing will uncover insights you didn’t know existed.