Marketing is all about business development. In B2B marketing your business is selling your product or service to other businesses. Depending on what the business or industry is, B2B can involve the marketing of raw materials, components, finished goods and professional or technological services.
B2B marketing differs from business to consumer (B2C) marketing, which considers buyer behaviour and purchasing decisions based not only on price but also status, trends and other emotional factors. In contrast, B2B purchasing decisions are largely based on price and revenue potential while also factoring in quality, ordering cost and service levels.
Like any marketing endeavour, B2B involves getting back-to-basics. You need to determine where is your company positioned in your specific market, and who in the market you are targeting. Effective marketing is all about recognising your target market.
Robust customer research will provide good market intelligence of the industry environment and the needs of your potential customers. When you understand what it is your customers want, it is much easier to identify your unique selling proposition and to strategically market utility and benefits your product or service offers them.
Visual content is one of the greatest sales and marketing tools you can use, video and imagery is king. Just look at the popularity of social media sites such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. When pitching to prospective B2B clients it’s important to use images, illustrations and product previews.
Provide touchpoints. Leave potential business clients with brochures, detailed product or service information and product samples, where feasible. For example, Unleashed has a library of free ebooks not just for customers but also prospective customers. Infographics are a popular way to visually engage your audience while also providing relevant information.
Leave something behind that decision-makers can refer to. Help buyers to determine the benefits to them; functionality, cost savings, increased efficiency. Explain any intangibles such as after sale service, warrantees and delivery schedules.
Create content that helps to educate and inform potential clients about your product or service. Buyers want to know they can trust you company and its leaders, so testimonials and third-party endorsements can help to build credibility and trust in your organisation.
Finally, it is vital to follow-up prospective business clients, as like you, other business owners are busy. Follow-ups provide the opportunity to keep your business front-of-mind by providing little reminders about your company and what it can offer their business.
For existing customers, follow-ups show that you value their custom. They provide a way to gather feedback, and to determine what the ongoing needs of your B2B customers are. This helps you to improve customer experience and customer service delivery.
An area where B2B differs significantly from B2C, is that B2B purchasing decisions are generally made by a group, usually after much deliberation and comparison. It is therefore essential that B2B marketing efforts are communicated to various decision-makers. These may include Senior Managers, Technical Experts and Procurement Officers.
Each member of the decision-making group will be looking for different utility. Management looks for profit generating opportunities and return on investment, while technical experts will be more interested in quality and function. The employees tasked with purchasing will consider price, ordering cost and service delivery.
Social media works as equally well for B2B marketing as it does B2C. Social media platforms offer an opportunity to engage with your customers through two-way communication. It also helps drive customers to your website. Blogs, business tips and webinars not only serve to inform your clients and prospects but they also help to improve search engine optimisation.
That’s not all…
Customers are increasingly using online channels to shop and B2B customers are no different. Online content can be driving force behind B2B buying decisions. E-commerce provides multiple benefits for your organisation such as greater efficiency, scalability and comprehensive analytics. For your customers, the benefits include convenience of product information, pricing and up-to-date inventory levels as well as a faster ordering process and a lower ordering cost.
B2B marketers need to demonstrate tangible growth and ROI for their organisations. The key to achieving this is through building valuable relationships, loyalty and long-term customers by concentrating on what they, your customers, value most.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.