What is B2B marketing? B2B marketing is the process of building awareness and generating demand for B2B products and services. B2B marketers are marketing to other businesses, not consumers. B2B marketers generate demand which salespeople then work towards closing as a win. Did you know nearly 90% of B2B marketing and sales executives do not feel prepared to sell to the digital-savvy customer—the evolved buyer (Bain & Co)? To market and sell to the modern B2B buyer, thinking digitally about your B2B marketing and sales strategy is crucial. However, you need to start with a solid foundation. Here is a quick introduction to B2B marketing and how it differs from B2C marketing.
As B2B marketers our job is to:
Develop a marketing strategy based on our products and the problems our products can solve.
- Evaluate the market and identify who is the best fit for our products. Who is most likely to buy?
- Develop messaging that will resonate with the target audience.
- Execute campaigns that will build awareness and demand for products.
- Generate and nurture leads through a marketing funnel until they are marketing qualified leads.
- Measure and optimise marketing ROI.
While B2C marketers are working towards immediate sales, the B2B marketer is more likely to work towards generating leads and working with sales to build a pipeline. B2B marketers need to work closely with sales to support the sales process so marketing involvement doesn’t (shouldn’t) stop at the MQL. By working closely with sales, B2B marketers can take learnings and optimize their marketing strategies and tactics. For example, B2B marketing and sales can work together to capture common objections, and answer these earlier in the buyer journey.
What is B2B (business-to-business)?
B2B stands for business-to-business and refers to the sales of goods or services to other businesses rather than consumers. Selling to consumers is B2C or Business-to-Consumer.
What are the characteristics of a B2B market?
- The decision-making process is much longer than in a consumer buying journey. There is a lot more consideration involved in making a business purchase.
- The business buyer will have an established and logical workflow.
- The products being bought are usually a lot more complex, as are the sales deals put in place around them.
- Buyer is driven by making rational decisions to narrow down on a solution.
- B2B buyers are often experts in their field.
- There are fewer potential B2B buyers than there are consumer buyers.
- Although there are fewer buyers the actual value of each deal is much higher.
- The purchasing decision is made by a team rather than an individual. Although an individual may give final sign-off.
As B2B marketers we are attempting to communicate complex propositions. We know that we aren’t dealing with a market of millions of consumers. Although the market is smaller each potential sale is worth a lot more, this means the buyer is going to spend a lot more time researching a solution. The bigger a purchase, the higher the required consideration. As B2B marketers we need to support this complex buying journey. Adding to the complexity is that we’re rarely marketing to one person. We need to think about everyone who might be involved in the decision-making process, from the end user through to the CFO who signs off the purchase order.
The complexity of product, price, route to market and the sales process differentiates B2B marketing from B2C marketing. However, the two markets are connected and don’t sit independent of each other. Demand for B2B products and services can result from consumer demand. Businesses need to buy products and services from other businesses to meet demand from consumers. An obvious example is selling raw materials to manufacturers. A not so obvious example is selling HR software to a retailer who needs to grow their workforce because of greater consumer demand.
Emotional B2C buyers, logical B2B buyers
B2C buyers are much more influenced by emotional factors such as branding. A B2C buyer will buy things because of the perceived status it affords them. B2B buyers are deciding on behalf of their business, and decisions are far more considered and logical. However, brand marketing still plays a very important role in B2B markets. It’s much easier to convince a business to buy an IBM solution than it is from an unknown vendor. Business buyers want to minimize risk, as much as they want to minimize cost.
Ultimately a business buyer is influenced by two questions:
- Will this product make my business more money?
- Will this product save my business money?
How does B2B marketing differ from B2C marketing?
B2B marketers must support information hungry buyers. Marketing strategies revolve around meeting this information need. Content marketing plays a far more important role in B2B marketing than it does in B2C marketing. As B2B marketers we produce infographics, videos, case studies, e-books, brochures, data sheets, white papers and plenty of other informational assets. Because B2C buyers are much more emotional, marketing strategies will involve trying to pull emotional triggers.
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