In marketing, there are two general approaches—B2C and B2B. Business-to-consumer marketing is what we often think of first, but business-to-business marketing can be critical for many organizations as well.
In B2B marketing, the products are different from what’s distributed in a B2C environment.
For example, the products tend to require a higher level of knowledge and expertise on the audience’s part compared to consumer products. They’re often more complex, and the buying process can be longer. B2B companies will usually sell either high-cost items in small quantities or lower-cost items in high quantities.
The following are six key things to know about B2B marketing and what makes it distinct from B2C marketing.
1. An Overview of B2B Marketing
Business-to-business marketing is when a company is marketing its products or services to another business or organization. B2B marketing tends to be more straightforward and informational than what we see in B2C marketing. The purchase decisions of a business are more focused on the bottom-line revenue impact.
Return on investment (ROI) isn’t a big concern from a consumer perspective, but for business decision-makers, it’s often the number one factor they use to guide purchases.
B2B marketers are often selling to committees that are made up of different stakeholders, which may have their own and even competing interests when they’re making a decision. This can make B2B marketing more challenging and complex, but marketers have access to a growing amount of data that can help them reach out with highly tailored information and approaches.
A B2B marketing campaign is aimed toward the person or group of people who has influence or control over purchasing decisions.
2. Customer Relationships
While it might not seem like it, B2B marketing is actually often more focused on creating personal relationships than B2C marketing. B2C marketing, by contrast, tends to be more transactional.
B2B marketing needs to drive long-term relationships with clients. A top priority is a lead generation, and repeat and referral business are especially critical, which is again why relationship-building is so important.
B2C businesses don’t tend to involve a lot of direct communication between the organization and the customer. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen sometimes or that there isn’t still an element of personalization, but it’s not the most important factor as it is with B2B marketing.
The focus of B2C marketing is selling the product or service and doing so at the fastest rate possible.
3. The Decision-Making Process
To create an effective B2B marketing strategy, you need a clear understanding of the decision-making process. In B2B marketing, you want open, transparent communication throughout each part of the decision-making process. In B2C marketing, it’s about making the decision as fast and easy as possible.
In B2B marketing, you can appeal to a combination of rational and emotional decision-making. You want to keep lines of communication open to make sure that you’re both going to feel like it’s the right fit.
Rational factors driving decisions for B2B purchases include whether it’s a good investment and also how it will impact employees.
You’re going to have to gear your marketing toward a purchasing process and sales cycle that have multiple steps and need higher levels of consultation. It’s rare to see a direct purchase happen, at least when it comes to the first purchase.
After a relationship is established, then B2B customers will probably require less engagement, but initially, this isn’t likely to be the case.
4. B2B Digital Marketing
Your digital presence, as is true with B2C marketing, will be made up of SEO, your website, paid ads, and any other place you’re active online.
For B2B digital marketing, you again want to begin your strategy with an understanding of your buyer persona or target audience. You need a clear understanding of this information because it’s going to inform essentially everything else that you do.
Your digital marketing isn’t going to perform without a website that’s engaging and informative. More than 80% of buyers visit websites before they make a purchase. You have to remember that a B2B sales cycle often involves gatekeepers and decision-makers, so a good website becomes an easy way for them to share information with other relevant stakeholders.
Your site needs to be something that’s easy to find through on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
Then, only once you have these fundamentals in place might you consider rounding out your digital presence with PPC advertising.
5. Crafting Your Content Marketing
B2B customers want to see authority and expertise. They’re logic-driven, and they want to be educated. That’s why B2B content marketing can be incredibly powerful.
Your content marketing strategy isn’t about selling or promoting. It’s about building a relationship and positioning yourself as the ultimate go-to. Content marketing, in some ways, can be more important in a B2B strategy than B2C simply because of what does drive the business-to-business buying decisions.
As you’re developing content, you want to align it to different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Your content at the awareness phase, for example, should educate buyers on the pain points you’ve already identified as you’ve created buyer personas.
Decision-makers in businesses prefer to get information from articles over advertising, so it’s worthwhile to put the same, if not more, of your resources toward your content marketing for your B2B strategy.
6. Other Trends
According to research, there are some other trends emerging in B2B marketing to keep an eye on.
First, the biggest challenge a lot of marketers report right now is measuring the ROI of their activities.
Another trend is that many B2B marketers report plans to increase investments in influencer marketing. This is likely because B2B marketers want to make sure they’re showing up on social channels because the pandemic led to shifts in how people purchase.
Finally, B2B marketers have also said they plan to create more case studies and invest in them. Businesses want to learn from other organizations, which case studies deliver on. If you aren’t using case studies, they reflect a strong opportunity to both inspire and educate your audience.