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What is B2B Marketing?

January 25, 2018
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The B2B (business-to-business) marketing discipline is rather simple; it is a model in which a product or service is being sold to a company rather than an individual consumer. Typically, whatever is being sold helps optimize a company’s internal ecosystem, aids them in driving their profits higher, provides raw materials, products, or any type of service that could benefit the business. Think cloud solutions, cheaper manufacturing, a more intuitive internal network, etc.

At this point people generally ask: are B2B tactics different than B2C (business-to-consumer)? The answer to this question is yes but there are more similarities than you might expect. In fact, B2B marketing orbits all the other ad platforms you’re aware of, you just might not be keen to it. Adobe sells Photoshop to designers but in parallel they’re marketing their cloud solutions specifically to enterprise companies. Dropbox markets to you, so you have a seamless platform to store your files on a cloud, but they also have a solution for businesses.

By in large the idea is that B2B works to better the customer-to-client dynamic and B2B marketing works to prove they can achieve this feat.

The Similarities Between B2B And ‘Standard’ Marketing

When you market something you’re looking to create brand awareness and ultimately drive a new customer to convert. B2B marketing is no different. It is simply one organization attempting to bring another organization to convert. Similar to other marketing disciplines, one of the core ingredients of B2B is quality content. From written, visual, email, and all other forms, content holds its integral role within this marketing discipline as it does with all others.

In this world, the mantra remains to be content is king. The largest facet of B2B is brand awareness which is followed closely by lead generation. This means B2B marketers strive to create the utmost quality content in order to promote what they are selling, flesh-out their brand, and establish credibility.

Sales, funny enough, are at the bottom of the totem pole for B2B. Which again aligns with the current trends in digital marketing. When marketers strive to create a plan that attracts other organizations, they begin with the same formula; identifying the target audience, charting out keywords, organizing content, A&B testing, and so forth.

What Are The Differences?

A primary difference in B2B marketing is the volume and scale of conversions. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that a product or service being sold to a business is almost always going to be more expensive than one sold to a consumer. In this vein conversions become more valuable because often less are made to cover the same profit margin as say a handful of consumer conversions. In short: B2B sale prices are a lot higher which changes the nature of the conversion. It is a general rule of thumb that B2B marketers work a lot longer on their conversions and the process usually involves more steps and tender-love-and-care.

Once an organization is contemplating purchasing a product or service, the high price often leads to longer periods of communication, testing, extensive deal-language, and so on. However, in doing so, a relationship is born beneath the marketing campaign that isn’t often witnessed in B2C marketing. In many ways B2B marketing is a highly more personal interaction, as the decision to invest large sums of a company’s money typically involves multiple points of contact, tons of meetings, and an understanding that a relationship needs to be established before a sale is made.

Many consider this phenomenon to be one of the magnificent strengths of B2B marketing, as it creates a partnership which can last a long while, lead to affiliate marketing, and ultimately establish a consistent revenue stream. In dealing organization to organization, it is a much more hands on experience, allowing the marketer (if the ‘consumer’ organization bites) room to truly communicate their brand and product over longer periods of time.

Along with this relationship comes more exposure. In B2B marketing, unlike B2C marketing, usually you are selling to a committee. This means a team or board is making the decision to utilize the product or service, meaning many of them have a say-so. If the decision is made, then think of it like tapping into multiple networks, as each individual—so long as they’re happy with the product or service—can then pass their experience with your company onto others, further validating the brand. This type of validity, originating from established organizations, has a tendency to be more influential than a single positive consumer experience.

What Are Some Specific B2B Disciplines?

Perhaps you’re on this page because you’re trying to iron out a B2B strategy. The end goal is always the same; you want the other party to convert. Yet, with B2B, that journey takes a different form. It is paramount that you recognize the differences in communication. In typical marketing, you want your consumer to be thrown into an environment where they are compelled to buy. A CTA (call-to-action) is what you want them to press and your content/surface should be geared for persuasion.

With B2B it’s not necessarily the same. More so it is agreed that in B2B marketing you are actually trying to persuade another organization to communicate rather than purchase. We mean this initially not overtly. This type of marketing needs to be focused around creating your brand rather than launching a campaign that screams sales. You want to make way for a platform that helps begin a relationship (even if just a dialogue) between you and a potential customer, then guide them smoothly along the sales process, building a relationship and executing a conversion simultaneously.

B2B Buyers Can Be Difficult

Another key component here is that B2B buyers are typically viewed as more rational, complex, and intelligent. Being that they work for an organization and are ultimately trying to better that company’s ROI (even if simply on them as an employee) there is a whole lot more accountability involved. The person making the decision to purchase a B2B marketers product or service is usually a critical thinker, one trusted within their outfit to evaluate each decision carefully, meticulously, and ultimately produce a result that will better the company as a whole.

This means they are often more diligent in their pursuits, less likely to involve emotions, more prone to challenge, and will ultimately rely heavily on trust and security. When it comes to employing these disciplines, B2B marketers need to be ready to answer any and every question, be somewhat malleable to their audience, and focus as much on the relationship (if not more) than the product.

While the above are only two disciplines of B2B marketing, they outline some of the core differences that make B2B what it is; a type of marketing that orbits long, meaningful relationships, with the product often following this engagement.

B2B Marketing Is More Complex

It’s a fact: B2B marketing is harder. You’re essentially trying to pursue a company to invest in you, for reason none other than your promise that they’ll have a great ROI. But with the difficulties that B2B marketing poses, some experts claim that the standard of the game—although raised—becomes clearer than B2C marketing.

The target audience is easier to identify, the type of buyer is understood, and selling the product simply becomes a matter of managing personalities, upping market intelligence, and having a service or product that is of the utmost quality.

The B2B landscape is certainly a different animal but it relies heavily on common marketing disciplines, with the biggest difference being the path in which a ‘consumer’ is led to convert. With this type of marketing, the relationship comes first.

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