Do’s and Don’ts of B2B Marketing
The emergence of B2B marketing as the prevailing attitude of e-commerce today has influenced all that has a part in the market. From purchasing materials to their processing towards specific products, placement on the market, purchase systems and distribution to consumers; as well as service development through training and qualification courses within e-learning systems which have also entered content marketing domains – businesses implement inbound techniques to optimize their productivity whether in relation to each other or towards the consumers.
Business-to-business marketing has begun to implement new content-based strategies and channels in relations between providers and buyers in the past few years. Studies show that these tendencies are going to grow in the following years. We have, hence, decided to provide basic introduction to how B2B marketing works and pointed out the differentiation points in reference to business-to-customer marketing as well as incorporated a list of advisable and avoidable strategies for B2B marketers. Read through sections 1) Introduction to B2B Marketing; 2) B2B Marketing Do’s and 3) B2B Marketing Don’ts and acquire valuable insights regarding the matter.
INTRODUCTION TO B2B MARKETING
Business-to-business or B2B marketing is the management of the whole of processes in commerce between business entities with the end goal of providing according to consumer demand. In other words, the final objective of B2B marketing is to secure adequate transformation of materials into products, as well as their storage and distribution, in order to be placed on the market and generate revenue.
When the B2B marketing discipline emerged in the early 1990s, its approaches were frequently identified with the techniques used in customer marketing. However, in the past fifteen years, its strategies diversified according to necessities of specific processes in the discipline. New tendencies towards content marketing and engagement, as well as documentation of strategies, are showing significant growth in B2B marketing.
Here are some up-to-date statistics on content management in B2B marketing:
- 70% of B2B marketing enterprises are increasing content amounts through social media (especially LinkedIn and Twitter), articles on websites, eNewsletters, blogs, in-person events, case studies, videos, webcasts and webinars, infographics, etc.
- 35% of B2B marketing enterprises implement documentation of content strategies and report high-efficiency.
- Organizational goals of B2B enterprises for the following year are raising brand awareness (84% of enterprises), generating leads (83%), inducing engagement (81%), increasing sales (75%) and nurturing leads (74%).
- 55% of B2B enterprises intend to increase budgets or content marketing in 2015.
The detrimental features of business-to-business marketing are those related to the amount of customers in relation to providers and those of financial nature – significantly larger amounts of money are in play in the B2B market than is the case with general consumer market. These properties affect differences in business marketing management which will be discussed later in the text.
Decision Matrix in B2B Marketing
Business to business marketing process involves complex decision-making units (DMU) due to different low/high business risk and low/high financial value relations. These relations change with reference to different target audiences (DMU’s of the potential buyer/seller) and involve specific DMUs accordingly: purchase, technical and legal with varying levels of expertise. This is necessary in order to optimize communication and end results of collaboration.
B2B and B2C Marketing Comparison
B2B product presentation is usually more complex
While consumer products frequently target appeal and usefulness on a superficial level, B2B products require profound technical expertise in the field of a potential purchase. A buyer in B2B interaction is not interested in the appearance of the product as much as in specifications in its production, features and functionality, as well as the post sales, support management and issue resolution strategies of the seller.
Consequently, the potential continuous large-scale relationship in B2B greatly depends on the (mostly technically focused) ability and expertise of salespeople to provide sufficient amount of valuable data.
B2B has lower number of buyers but longer-terms buyers
The B2B market is comprised out of roughly 80% of providers in relation to a mere 20% of buyers. In addition to this ratio, the number of buyers is significantly lower than in B2C market. Moreover, the financial revenue from particular customers is higher as is the differentiation in the value of key accounts and other customers for a business.
Further on, customers in the B2B market require stronger post-sales support and are likely to opt for a long-term relationship with their providers because of the specific nature of products and services acquired.
B2B are more rational
Rational management is one of the essential approaches undertaken in B2B marketing. Marketers choose comprehensive strategies to create cohesive brands without too much sub-categorization in order to clearly provide according to their customers’ demand. Proper research and implementation of findings, as well as quality products/services, are something B2B enterprises incorporate vigorously because their customers are more perceptive and circumspect.
B2B has fewer behavioral and needs-based segments
Due to the smaller amounts of customers as well as, the lesser differentiation between target audience’s particular needs, B2B enterprises have fewer segments of customers and are divided on more of technical than behavioral basis. Frequent segmentation in B2B marketing includes focusing on price, focus on brand and quality, service focus and focus on partnership audiences. These segments are managed according to their characteristics but also based on the strategic importance of the buyer for the enterprise.
B2B has higher importance of relationship
B2B marketers must exploit the benefits of customer engagement management strategies in order to ensure retention of key accounts: personalized approach in B2B takes form of a partnership (in addition to timely supply of required products, buyers are looking for stockholders, technical consultants, long-term support and other valuable services which will differentiate their supplier from competition).
As a consequence of the necessity of building a solid relationship with customers, B2B marketing gravitates to sales and technical support as means of promotion more than anything else. In-person meetings and trade shows are what is most invested in when cultivation of relations is in question.
B2B drives less innovation
In opposition to risk taking tendencies in innovation of B2C marketing which are caused by the growing need for differentiation, B2B marketers are all in a somewhat similar situation (being recklessly innovative would be unproductive) and build innovation from quality research and collected information on trends which have been established upstream so as to create a sustainable market.
B2B MARKETING DO’S
Do Prioritize Measurable Objectives
Rather than focusing solely on diagnostics such as database size or lead scores, you should use them as means of objective measurement of activity and potential conversion through stages of customer lifecycle. This way you will be able to have qualitative and quantitative results in reference to the market. Consequently, you will be able to prioritize your objectives of measurement depending on your current state. For example, if you are attracting a lot of prospects, you will focus on qualifying their receptiveness for potential conversion, nurturing their engagement through expert content presentation (within your industry) and acquisition of new ones.
Do Articulate your Business in a Customer-focused Way
Relationship construction is crucial for successful B2B marketing management so you should implement an outside-in perspective when structuring your campaigns. The holy grail of marketing is being able to articulate offers to customers not as sales but as means to reach their preferred ends (because a customer essentially does not want a drill, they want a hole). An outside-in perspective, i.e. examination of your target audience will provide insights on what to focus on. However, incorporate these insights into something your visions because brands satisfy customer’s desires but are autonomous at the in the process.
Do Target your Customer Segmentation
Proper allocation of investment (of time, money and personnel), as well as the efficiency of your overall marketing endeavors, depends on the determination of segment characteristics in your target customers. Such results are obtained by data collection, analysis as well as interaction. The more informed you are of your potential buyers, the more you will be able to answer their particular needs.
Do Perform Content Marketing
In order to make your customer more knowledgeable about your business and its products as well as services that accompany it (post-sales support, technical consultation, etc.) you should implement content marketing strategies. Identify and align content with regard to all of the stages of the customer journey and present it through the implementation of effective tactics – such as social media, in-person communication, blogs, newsletters and a variety of others.
Content marketing strategies introduce your business to prospects as well as general public and as such serve as an excellent technique for branding a company and expanding its clientele.
Do Invest your Effort in Skill Development, Expansion and Retention of Customers
Buyers in the B2B market have more knowledge of the industry within their purchase necessities and a higher awareness of what their needs are (as opposing to the consumer market). In order to prevail in B2B market, you have to invest in personnel skills (especially sales and technical departments) and expansion of qualifications so your company could communicate with customers and deliver according to demand on a satisfactory level.
Moreover, as there are fewer customers in the B2B market, it is essential to focus time and money on their retention. As we have mentioned above, B2B marketing aims at attracting long-term highly profitable accounts.
Do Share your Knowledge and Even Some Trade Secrets with your B2B Customers
As relations between a customer and the provider in B2B marketing resemble a partnership, it is advisable to let your prospects know what and how you are doing the things they require. Sharing some trade secrets will convince your customers of your expertise and competence. Presenting content (such as webinars, courses or ebooks) should be free because it builds the most positive relationship with prospects. Your target customers are not willing to perform these operations and processes by themselves, but they want to be well informed in matters of their investment (because these investments are significantly higher than in the B2C market).
Examples of Successful B2B Marketing Strategy
Incorporation of content and its channels into B2B marketing strategies:
- Evernote is using e-mail and video marketing to promote and stimulate free trials of their services for other businesses. The campaign comprises out of e-mail recommendation for ‘how-to’ videos on their landing pages with specific features according to the type of business they are targeting.
- Hubspot launches consecutive e-mail and landing pages campaigns through which they promote free content in forms of e-books and webinars. They are providing insightful knowledge in their field and are thus building engagement towards their business among potential customers.
- Nokia Solutions and Network Users established a PowerPoint database on Slideshare where they share knowledge and expertise with customers. It is a way of proving authority as well as involvement with target audiences.
- Petrofac, which is an oil industry company, offers case studies for raising understanding of their area of expertise based on the type of service or project a prospect might be interested in. In this way, they are informing prospects but also presenting themselves as expert potential business collaborators.
- Simply Business have created diverse guides for Google+, social media management and other forms used for marketing optimization. They target their content to small businesses and in doing so promote their services of business insurance.
B2B MARKETING DON’TS
Don’t Rush with your B2B Customers
Creating an instantaneous network of customers is not only virtually impossible nowadays but it is also not sustainable if there is no substance in your business. Instead of chasing buyers, take time and focus on building a comprehensive union of expertise, skilled employees and targeted marketing strategies for diverse stages of customer lifecycle which will be based on thorough examination and analysis of the current market. Form a brand and the customers will come. In order to do so, consult with experienced brand experts so as to invest the adequate amount of time, money and effort in all of your processes.
Simultaneously begin customer engagement processes and create a solid audience base that can be nurtured into customers.
Don’t Pretend you Have Products you Cannot Offer
Do not employ traditional tactics such as deceiving prospect regarding the products or services you offer. Bear in mind that amount of customers is not endless; if you prove to be a fraud (in any sense) you will lose not only your existing prospects, leads and customers but also the chance to bring in new ones (word of mouth travels fast).
Don’t Copy Competition
The quality of service and expertise, as well as the realization of projects, is what differentiate you from competition. Claiming to have something better than your competition or copying their successful endeavours will most likely result in mediocre products and services as well as inconsistency in realization – in other words, it will bring more trouble than profit.
Don’t Overdo Marketing
Social media in B2B marketing serves as a discussion platform not the presentation of useless information. Hence, your content marketing should promote your products and services but not advertize them – content must be built as niche-oriented and customer-focused. Form a comprehensive and all-encompassing marketing strategy with specific objectives every step of the way but make sure you are subtle and useful in your endeavors towards prospects.
Don’t Overdo with the Data
We have mentioned numerous times the importance of data analysis and documentation of strategies for B2B marketing. However, a massive amount of data which does not have applicable properties and actual value is completely useless. Determine which activities need to be monitored and documented and why. In other words, choose metrics that will be beneficial in the realization of your objectives. Do not collect data for its sake (it is time and finance consuming as well as utterly pointless).
While quality and a holistic approach to the market is something highly advisable to entrepreneurs who interact with consumers as it ensures long-term profitability, in the business-to-business market, these properties are a necessity. It is practically impossible to become a brand without careful examination of the market and prospects. By analyzing these observations, you can determine the amounts and types of investment in certain stages of the customer journey and thus structuralize your campaigns in most productive manners. Distribution of content among your prospects will enhance acquisition process as well as attract new prospects and leads. The tools of inbound marketing will enable continuous monitoring of your existing customers and their behavioral patterns that will be beneficial for the establishment of perpetual relations. These relations will influence not only the longevity of your business but also its scope. Consequently, proper marketing management can maximize the possibilities of overall business management.