When creating a new product or service you’ll inevitably end up choosing between two types of consumerism: B2B or B2C. Each has its own set of strategies for reaching its ideal customer, and which one you decide to market to, depends on what you’re offering and which audience is best suited.
In this article, we’ll break down what B2B marketing is and the sets of strategies you’ll want to use for 2022.
What does B2B marketing mean?
B2B stands for business-to-business. It refers to the methods of marketing a product or service to other businesses. In terms of how B2B marketing works, it’s geared towards solution-based, informational and educational content, that offers operational and financial value to a business.
Businesses want to know why they should pick you and how you can solve their problems and increase ROI.
What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?
The main difference between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) is the target audience.
- B2B marketing is aimed at individuals or groups of key decision makers acting on behalf of their organisation. The target audience is concerned with finding products and services that provide a solution to their pain points and have a positive ROI (return on investment). The buying cycles tend to be longer in B2B.
- B2C marketing is tailored towards individual buyers acting for themselves only. This target audience tends to make purchases based on emotion and desire. They’re not concerned with how products and services can benefit them financially. The buying cycles tend to be shorter in B2C.
Many businesses qualify as both B2B and B2C
A product or service often falls under the B2B and B2C banners. This is where businesses need to weigh up which route is more profitable and easier to navigate.
An example of this is a company selling office supplies.
Let’s say they sell ink cartridges for printers. Rather than fulfilling individual orders for general consumers (B2C) and placing the product in multiple retailers, it’s more viable for a business to sell the cartridges in volume. So they decide that B2B is a better fit and start marketing to other businesses to generate leads and sales.
Another example is Saas (software-as-a-service).
A company providing security software for email accounts applies to individual users as well as larger organisations. After some consideration, the company decides that managing and maintaining lots of individual customers will require the implantation and monitoring of many different systems (customer service agents, tools, sales reps etc). So they opt for B2B marketing to have overall fewer clients but the ability to sell at scale.
What are the benefits of B2B marketing?
With so many channels and tactics to use, coming up with a solid B2B marketing strategy requires some know-how and a lot of effort but the payoff is tremendous. For revenue but also for growing and scaling the business.
Here are some key benefits of B2B marketing:
- Increase brand awareness - 50% of the marketing content is created with the goal of raising brand awareness. Which tells you how much companies value it.
- Improve rankings - Content marketing and SEO strategies help to place your company higher up the search results pages of Google and co, making it easier for people to find you.
- Build traffic - Multi-channel marketing through blogs and social media, for example, helps drive traffic towards your website.
- Generate leads - Marketing to the right people at the right time puts your business in front of prospective buyers which helps to generate more leads.
- Reduce churn - Customer churn is the rate at which you lose customers. B2B marketing helps establish you as an authority and promotes loyal, long-term relationships.
- Data and analytics insights - See what’s working and what isn’t. Data gives insights into customer behaviours and responses to content which helps inform future strategies.
What is the B2B buyer journey?
Before you can make a convincing B2B marketing strategy in 2022, you’ll need to get a grasp on the buyer journey and how it plays out in the B2B context (it’s a little different to B2C). This is often referred to as the marketing funnel or lifecycle and is made up of four stages: Awareness, Consideration, Decision and Retention.
Awareness refers to the first time a prospect has identified that they have a problem that needs solving and begin to research possible solutions. For example, a clothing company is looking for a printing warehouse to apply graphics on their t-shirts.
After conducting research, this might include visiting websites, reading blogs, looking at social media accounts etc, the company shortlists the best possible solutions.
The company compares its solutions and goes with the one that meets their needs, offers the best value in terms of service and ROI, and fits within their budget.
After the sale has been completed, post-sale strategies are used to encourage repurchases and referrals.
How to create a B2B marketing strategy
Planning is key to delivering great results. Before you start churning out reams of misguided content and throwing money at ads, follow these steps first:
Set a goal
The first step is to specify what it is you want to achieve from your marketing plan and the frameworks you’ll use to measure its performance. Once the objectives are clear you can start assigning roles to team members and deciding how you’ll monitor progress.
Identify your target audience
A company’s target audience refers to the group of consumers most likely to interact with your product or service. Knowing your target audience helps to define a buyer persona - a fictional profile that represents the persona of your ideal customer.
Buyer personas offer a deeper view of consumer behaviour and the drivers for purchase, typically this includes information such as:
- Job title
- Challenges/ Pain points
- Which channels do they spend time in
Determine your brand positioning
Brand positioning refers to how your company is perceived in the minds of your consumers. Think about your identity as a brand. Ask and answer questions like:
- Why do you exist?
- What are your values?
- How does your business help other businesses?
- What can you offer over and above competitors?
A strong brand is consistently represented across all of its channels to build a presence in its target audience’s lives.
Decide which channels and tactics to use
We won’t minimise this, there are a LOT of ways to market to businesses. The good news is, if you’ve followed the steps so far, you should have a good idea of who your target audience is and their personas should indicate which channels will have the most marketing success.
Some tips for choosing the right B2B marketing channels are:
- Run a competitive analysis to see what types of content and tactics are used
- See where your customers are spending most of their time online
- Identify keywords and the most popular search engine queries
- Outside of online channels like social media, see if offline tactics like events are popular with your target audience
Create content and campaigns
Now you can start creating the content that will be distributed across your chosen channels.
We won’t break each one down all the way but as a high-level view, here are some of the most commonly used B2B marketing channels:
B2B Social media marketing
B2B Social media marketing is a powerful tactic for raising brand awareness, it’s perhaps not the most fruitful or conversion-oriented channel but for buyers at the beginning of their journey (the awareness stage), it gets eyes on your company.
One of the better-suited B2B social media platforms is LinkedIn - a professional network of over 675 million users. LinkedIn differs from Instagram and Facebook in that it is designed specifically for business-to-business networking. Think about using both organic and paid marketing in your B2B social media marketing.
B2B Content marketing
As we established in our comparison between B2B and B2C customers, businesses want informational and educational content that positions you as a leader and authority in your industry.
This is where B2B content marketing comes in. A perfectly suited tactic for pulling customers into your sphere.
Some good examples of this are:
B2B Email marketing
Email is still one of the best ways to reach customers. 93% of marketers agree due to emails' proven track record as a lead generation tool.
Emails are also a great palace to incorporate other resources like newsletters and guides, this helps to build more value for the customer and boost your credibility.
Measure the results
As part of your initial planning phase, you’ll have decided on how you’ll collect and measure the data from campaigns.
Once analysed, the data will provide you with insights that will determine whether or not a campaign has been successful but also what the best practices are for moving forward.
Important factors to analyse are:
- Length of campaign
- What the overall cost was
- Did it meet your objective(s)?
- How many leads and sales did it generate?
- What could be done better or differently to improve results?
If one type of content clearly outperforms another, logic says to invest more resources into that channel.
Although we know that content, email, social media and offline marketing yields results, B2B marketing requires experimentation to find the best fit for your product or service. So try and get creative with the channels and content to see what works best for you.
Wrapping up B2B marketing
We’ve covered the what, why and how of B2B marketing and hopefully this has given some valuable insights into B2B marketing and how it could work for you.
The key takeaways to keep in mind are:
- Understand your buyer’s journey
- Set a goal
- Identify your target audience and build personas
- Determine your brand positioning (who are you and why)
- Decide which B2B marketing channels are best suited
- Create content and run campaigns
- Measure the results
Selling to other businesses is all about building value in your products and services and bringing solutions to their problems.
Follow these steps to reach your audience and adapt your efforts using the data until you find the sweet spot.
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