What is B2B marketing and how does it differ from B2C?

When we think of marketing, we often think about an engaging Facebook post from our favourite brand or the John Lewis Christmas adverts. These are great examples of how businesses market their brand or products to end consumers. They’re designed to lead you towards a purchase that is usually a one time purchase of a consumable product. However, when a business communicates it’s services to another business (B2B marketing), there are many more complexities and nuances to understand and take into consideration.

What is B2B marketing and how does it differ from B2C?

There are several key factors that make B2B marketing different from its B2C counterpart. For starters, good B2B marketing tends to be more informational - focussing on the benefits offered to the business they’re selling to. For example, a B2B solution may save the customer money, increase profits, increase productivity or save time. Or perhaps you have a quality product but offer a better level of service than your competitors. More often than not, the sale is determined by whether your solution will benefit the business you’re selling too - and offers value in doing so.

B2B marketers often face unique challenges in their quest to gain visibility in their chosen marketplace in comparison to B2C marketers.”

B2B marketing agencies often face unique challenges in their quest to gain visibility in their chosen marketplace in comparison to B2C marketing. For example:

  • Lead times - The sales cycle of a B2B solution is more often than not much longer than that of a B2C sale. Also, once a sale is made or completed, businesses have a harder time attributing the sale to the original channel that led to a purchase.
  • The number of touchpoints - Due to the longer sales cycle, B2B companies often need to engage with prospective buyers across a number of platforms and have numerous conversations before a purchase is made.
  • Consultative sales - B2B sales tend to be more consultative and based on the knowledge, experience and expertise of the business you’re purchasing from.
  • Higher value sales - B2B transactions are often of higher monetary value and so the purchase is much more of a ‘considered’ one. Larger businesses may have purchasing departments that engage in long term contracts with their vendors who are vetted rigorously before engaging in business.
  • Cultural fit - More so than B2C transactions, you’ll often have a lot more interaction (face to face or via phone calls) with a person when it comes to the B2B sales cycle. You could have the best product on the market, but may not be a cultural fit for the company you’re selling to. ‘People’ have much more of an influence on the final sale in comparison to a B2C transaction which can happen without speaking to a single person.
  • Legal requirements - Many businesses, particularly in construction or in education, have strict requirements for their vendors or products needed (as outlined by governing bodies).

Who is Involved in B2B Marketing?

Any business that sells to other businesses is engaged in B2B marketing. This could include companies that handle anything from security solutions to office supplies. When a marketing agency or company creates a B2B campaign, it’s typically directed at those who are in charge of purchasing decisions for that company. The person who is responsible for purchasing will essentially be a type of ‘persona’ and have shared traits with others in a similar position. This helps the marketing department to establish who their target audience is, where they spend their time and the best channels to use to reach them and deliver their message.

What Should a B2B Marketing Strategy Look Like?

Depending on the industry, your marketplace can be a crowded place. It’s essential to have a well thought out, measurable strategy in place in order to stand out among your competitors and communicate why your target audience should work with you. With that being said, a solid B2B marketing strategy should include the following:

  • Measurable business objectives and how you plan to achieve them
  • A definition of who you are trying to target
  • Research to define your buyer persona
  • Usage of channels in which your target audience spends their time
  • Measurable activities to decipher the ROI of your strategy
  • The ability to pivot and make necessary changes

Common B2B Marketing Channels

One difference between B2B marketing and B2C marketing, is the various channels and types of content used to reach their prospective audiences. Some of the most common types of B2B marketing efforts include:

  • Blogs and knowledge-based articles - Blogs are great for introducing a variety of content, from infographics to videos. They add relevant content to websites (read more about B2B website design), which will boost SEO efforts but mainly they can be used to educate and offer value to potential clients, showing that you are consistently updating and investing in what you do.
  • SEO or PPC - While best practices remain the same, there are always improvements and tweaks to Google's Algorithm to enhance the search results. B2B companies often invest in SEO to ensure they are visible when another company is looking for their goods and services.
  • LinkedIn - Whilst B2C social media efforts are often focussed on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is predominantly used for business or professional related interaction. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network on the internet and is the go-to place to find and connect with prospective customers in the B2B world.
  • Email - Though it’s important to be careful with email in this age of SPAM filters, it is still a viable and respected channel to communicate your message with other businesses.

How to Find Success in B2B Marketing

B2B marketing is all about communicating and educating your target audience. There are several ways in which businesses can achieve success with their B2B marketing efforts.

Show Your Human Side

More often than not, companies, or individuals within that company, don’t want to be sold to. They want to have a conversation about how you can help them. They want to be able to trust a business to meet a particular business need or goal. As a result, businesses that let people in and show their more personal qualities have found success. Remember that people do business with people and that your attitudes and services offered will often be the dealbreaker in a crowded marketplace.

Define Your Audience Clearly

You’ll have a much easier time finding success if you hone in on certain targeted, segmented audiences. Sweeping campaigns can waste your time and resources. You know who you want to market to, so focus on that and save yourself some time and energy in the process.

Deliver the Right Content

Content is king for any business, but it’s also important to deliver it in the right context. Think about where you’re “speaking” and how it will fit with the platform you’re using. For example, you probably wouldn’t write a blog post on Instagram or Facebook. But, a short, snappy video works great for those platforms. Create a variety of content using different mediums, and showcase it appropriately where it belongs to catch the attention of other businesses.

The B2B Breakdown

One of the most important things to remember is that even though you’re marketing to businesses, there are still people behind that business running the show. So, you’re still marketing to human beings, and having a personal touch to your approach will be helpful.

Thought leadership should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to your B2B marketing efforts. Be conversational, be targeted, and make sure the context you’re using is relevant and useful to other businesses. While B2B marketing has its differences from B2C marketing, thinking about things on a greater scale doesn’t have to be over-complicated. In summary the more a business functions like a helpful individual who is interested in mutual benefit, the more everyone will accomplish.

Wan't to find out more? Get in touch with Tiga creative marketing in Kent to discuss your B2B marketing strategy.