Discover the definition of B2B marketing, its characteristics and differences from B2C marketing, the stages of an effective B2B marketing strategy and BtoB marketing techniques.
Also known as business-to-business (B2B) marketing, B2B marketing refers to all the marketing techniques used by a company to market its products or services to other organisations and companies.
It is based on the same techniques as B2C, but with a different and more focused target: companies (B2C marketing is more consumer-oriented, from the company to the consumer, these consumers being individuals or natural persons).
B2B requires a longer sales cycle, which is why impulse buying, point of sale and online purchases are not important here. There are more interesting things to know about B2B marketing in this blog, including its stages, strategy, techniques, and more. Let’s get to the bottom of it.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing refers to all the marketing strategies and techniques used by a company to market its products/services to other organisations or companies. It is different from consumer marketing or B2C marketing in that it targets businesses, unlike B2C marketing which targets individuals or natural persons.
Business To Business marketing is mainly carried out by distributors of services and products that are primarily aimed at businesses. The decision-making process here is more complex and considered. The needs and demands of customers are more rigorous.
Unlike B2C or Business-to-Consumer, customers/prospects in B2B marketing do not make impulsive, emotional or spontaneous purchases. They have even more precise needs because they buy in large quantities and usually in a planned or budgeted manner.
What are the characteristics of B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is mainly characterised by the following points:
- Consumers or customers are companies;
- The buyers are more professional;
- There are few customers, but the unit value is higher;
- The search for customer information is mainly done on the Internet;
- Decisions and purchasing cycles are long and involve several people;
- The value of a prospect in a company is always higher and therefore represents a large part of the turnover;
- The customer is looking for a global solution rather than a product, etc.
What are the main differences between B2B and B2C marketing?
The main differences between B2B and B2C marketing are presented in the points below:
In B2B marketing, the business relationship is with a small number of customers, but this business relationship lasts over time. For this reason, many B2B companies appoint account managers to maintain these personal interactions in order to build customer loyalty. They adopt a marketing approach that is particularly account focused, while maintaining very strong relationships with a small number of truly qualified leads through their preferred channel.
The buying decision process
B2B buying processes are often complex and lengthy. They require proposals from multiple suppliers and involve multiple parties. B2C marketing buying processes are considered impulsive and not involved enough, interactions are usually short term.
The cost of sales
The cost of business-to-business selling is always higher compared to the cost of selling to the consumer-person because business-to-business selling takes into account the decision-makers.
The number of buyers
The number of buyers of a B2B product or service is smaller than the number of buyers in mass consumption. It is therefore important to develop a marketing strategy that carefully targets the needs and interests of the group concerned.
The purchase of a product/service is seen as the final stage of marketing to the consumer-individual. For the business buyer, the buying process is usually the first step in a long-term business relationship. It is therefore essential to set up an efficient after-sales service.
B2B marketing can also continue after the sale, in the form of newsletters or with the features of automation software or marketing automation tasks, such as webinar invitations, product updates and similar techniques to consolidate and maintain the customer relationship.
What are the steps in a B2B marketing strategy?
Before presenting its steps, let’s first find out what a B2B marketing strategy is. The B2B marketing strategy refers to the plan to be followed by the company to achieve its objectives based on measures and actions planned and to be implemented in a precise order. The B2B marketing strategy defines more precisely the marketing objectives, the way you measure the success of your campaigns, your target audience and the way you position yourself.
Here are the main steps in designing and implementing a B2B marketing strategy:
1. Conduct a thorough study of the B2B market
Competitor and market analysis is a key step in developing a B2B marketing strategy. It provides an overview of the company’s situation and helps to analyse competitors. There are several methods for carrying out this analysis, including
The SWOT method
The acronym SWOT stands for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This method establishes an internal and external diagnosis of the company’s situation. The internal diagnosis refers to the weaknesses and strengths of the company. When you have an exact idea of your know-how and skills, you will inevitably gain an advantage over your competitors. This will enable you to detect your shortcomings and to seek ways of acting quickly to remedy them.
The external diagnosis refers to the threats and opportunities for your company. Threats refer to the obstacles you are likely to encounter and opportunities refer to potential avenues for growth.
The PESTEL method
This is an external analysis based on the 6 main pillars of a company: Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological, Ecological and Legal.
This key step in your marketing strategy is to analyse your services and products, gather expert and customer opinions, and then compare this with data on your competitors. This technique will certainly shed light on your company’s positioning and how people view it (your company).
3. Define objectives
Goal setting allows you to “know where you are going”. It is effective when it is based on the SMART method, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time-bound. With this method, the objectives of your marketing plan are necessarily aligned with those of your sales. Always check that each objective meets the criteria of this method (specific, measurable, etc.).
4. Determine the targets
It is important to have the right target to be able to achieve the objectives set. After targeting, mention the essential characteristics. Collect data. Socio-demographic data. Data to be taken into account are: gender, education level, age and others.
Define the role of the target in the purchase decision: are they users, decision-makers or influencers?
Identify their pains, their major challenges, their obstacles, their professional goals, and the best way to convince them.
You should also have an idea of your target’s preferred channels. How do they get their information: web magazine, trade fair, a special press, etc.? Are they on LinkedIn? All this data will be of vital importance when you invest in paid campaigns; it will help you to make a good targeting that will save you unnecessary expenses.
5. Carefully define your action plan
The first step in defining the action plan is to develop your marketing actions. This is done over a well-defined period of time. It promotes your service or product, gives you the opportunity to get more traffic to your site, align your marketing with sales and also improve your brand image.
Secondly, you or your team must define the appropriate marketing levers. These levers include social media, relevant content creation, emailing, marketing automation, website animation, search engine optimisation, SEA advertising campaigns on Google Ads (ex Adwords), LinkedIn and Facebook ads.
6. Define your customers’ buying journey
The B2B buying process has 6 stages that prospects must go through before becoming a customer: identify the problem, explore solutions, develop requirements, select suppliers, validate and sign up the customer. Your marketing strategy should therefore provide a customer experience that guides the prospect through each stage of the buying journey.
7. Define the marketing budget
This is the first step in planning the launch of actions. It is advisable to establish an optimal and efficient calendar so that you can anticipate your actions over at least one year. Secondly, you need to establish a budget for your marketing plan, since all the channels on which you and your team will be working will inevitably represent a certain amount of money to be spent. To find out how much money you need to allocate to your marketing action plan, you simply need to measure the amount of money that each euro invested brings in. This will give you an accurate idea of how many contacts you will need to make per year to achieve your desired turnover.
8. Define the performance of marketing actions
To define the performance of the marketing actions, you should refer to the KPIs. For example, the conversion rate of visitors into leads and the number of visitors to the website are the most important. Some KPIs like the number of page views, bounce rate, traffic sources, page awareness, the average time of visits and number of visitors on search engines are also necessary.
Always use the appropriate tools to measure your KPIs. The Google Analytics console, for example, offers the possibility to measure precisely everything that happens on your site. Tag manager analyses your traffic, updates tags, etc. You can also ask the best strategy consultancies to help you with this.
Some B2B marketing techniques
There are several marketing techniques to apply to generate leads or attract prospects and convert them into customers. They are based on content, SEO, online advertising, social networking and affiliate marketing.
Your content is the basic component for all marketing actions and campaigns. Buyers are often used to reading content sent by a salesperson at least three times and some like to inform themselves before making a purchase decision. You need to provide them with the digital content they are looking for to gain their trust (also known as inbound marketing). Your website is the appropriate digital tool and place to publish content. A quality content marketing strategy is essential for improving your natural referencing.
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the set of actions aimed at improving your position on search engines. It is useful for attracting sleeping customers. Internet users search on Google Search all the time. With SEO, you need to make sure that the content you publish is relevant to what people are interested in.
The more optimised a website is, the higher it ranks in the search engine results and the more leads it generates. Good optimisation can increase the chances that you will be found easily and that your B2B acquisition strategy will be successful. Nowadays, everyone is online, just like you, but you have to make the effort to align yourself well. With SEO and inbound marketing, your company will be a valuable, respected and easily accessible source of information.
Online advertising is of paramount importance when it comes to targeting an audience with the behavioural and demographic characteristics you are looking for. You can choose a publishing space where your customers spend more time for better lead acquisition.
The wider your reach on social networks, the more customers you will attract without spending much. You need to be really active, posting relevant content to get comments and likes. This way, you have a better chance that new prospects will see your content on their news feed.
Paid options such as Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Lead Collection help to attract more leads.
This is about letting certain companies help you sell by paying them in return. Here, a partner or affiliate recommends your services or products and when a purchase is made as a result of this recommendation, a reward is paid to your partner. Modern marketing involves placing URLs and banners on partner sites.
Affiliate marketing is very similar to online advertising. The difference is that you set up the partnerships, unlike online advertising where Google often selects the criteria for you.
Growth hacking is a data-driven practice that combines a variety of clever marketing tactics. With limited marketing resources, entrepreneurs need to think of new and creative ways to grow their business quickly and cheaply.
The goal of growth hacking techniques is usually to acquire as many users or customers as possible while spending as little as possible. It requires a great deal of agility to test as many methods as possible and to retain those that work best thanks to a detailed analysis of performance.
In short, B2B marketing is about marketing services or products between companies. B2C marketing, on the other hand, is more consumer-oriented. These two types of marketing are very different from each other. We have clearly detailed the different steps to define a B2B marketing strategy and then given some examples of concrete techniques to apply. If you have any difficulties, do not hesitate to contact the best consultancies to help you develop and implement your marketing strategy.