If you work for business customers, you have to do your marketing differently than end-users. Find out which special features have to be considered in B2B marketing and know suitable methods. You can also get inspiration for developing your B2B strategy.
Definition: Differences Between B2C And B2B Marketing
B2B is the abbreviation for Business to Business and includes all business relationships between companies. In this case, the marketing mix differs in details from that in the B2C area, i.e., towards consumers. This applies to product policy, sales, communication, and pricing (4 Ps: Product, Place, Promotion, Price).
In contrast to consumers, business customers make their purchase decisions less spontaneously but instead based on rational facts, which they find out about in advance. It is often about complex products and high investment sums. In this context, many business customers value reliable and long-term relationships with their suppliers or service providers. B2B marketing should be designed accordingly.
Success In B2B Marketing: That Is What Counts
The purchasing and decision-making processes are different for business customers than for end consumers. That is why business-to-business marketing must be based on these characteristics :
- Longer buying cycles: Support through inbound marketing
- Characterize buying centers
- Special features of the pricing policy
- The increased importance of services
- More individuality
Longer Buying Processes: Support Through Inbound Marketing
B2B customers may need to rationally justify their purchase decision to superiors, shareholders, or other stakeholders. It is also often about high-quality goods, large quantities, or long-term contracts, which is why thorough research is required before each purchase, and the entire process takes longer.
Successful B2B marketing builds on this by providing precisely the information that potential customers need and thus drawing attention to your offers. This is the core of inbound marketing, which plays a critical role in the B2B area and will be presented in more detail later. B2B marketing is much more essential than in the B2C area to accompany the entire long purchase decision process in every phase. It starts with general information about the fundamental problem that the customer would like to solve. But it also includes specific answers to individual questions and service offers for the time after the deal is concluded.
Characterize Buying Centers
B2B customers plan many acquisitions and investments as a team. The decision-makers include different people, from representatives of the specialist and finance departments to management and external consultants. These form the buying center.
It is essential for business-to-business marketing to identify these different buyer personas and align marketing to their expectations. For example, representatives of the specialist departments are more interested in the technical details of the products or services, while the management focuses on the economic benefit.
Special Features Of The Pricing Policy
For B2B customers, in addition to the price, the payment terms are often decisive. Because whether a sufficiently long period of payment is granted or installment payments are possible can influence their liquidity.
In contrast to B2C marketing, special promotions, e.g., B. time-limited discounts, not so significant. This has to do with the fact that B2B purchases are not made spontaneously and emotionally but somewhat rationally and carefully.
The Increased Importance Of Services
In the B2B area, it is often about particular and individualized products. As a result, many customers also expect timely services afterward.
Whether employee training, hotline, or repair service, analyze precisely what is required in connection with your products and offer this service. In B2B marketing, you communicate the additional services. You may be able to differentiate yourself from your competition in this way.
The target groups are smaller in B2B, so individual approaches and direct contacts are more important than in B2C marketing. Both the advertising or acquisition and the support of interested parties and customers must therefore be more targeted and oriented towards specific problems. Mass advertising is less common.
Business customers expect solution-oriented, intensive support and are often interested in long-term business relationships. This requires excellent coordination of B2B communication, sales, and customer service.
The Types Of B2B Marketing: Inbound, Outbound & Account-Based
There are different approaches for business-to-business marketing, each of which follows other principles. One differentiates:
- Inbound marketing
- Outbound marketing
- Account-based marketing
In the following, you will learn what distinguishes the individual concepts and to what extent they are suitable for B2B marketing.
The idea behind inbound marketing is that potential customers find the company’s offers themselves in their search for problem solutions. In this context, one speaks of a pull effect since interested parties are attracted.
The best-known form is content marketing, whereby the company publishes content tailored to potential customers on the Internet, which is usually ad-free and offers real added value. Inbound methods are particularly promising for B2B marketing, as this area often involves products or services that require explanation.
Outbound marketing comprises the classic advertising and acquisition measures that people are confronted with within everyday life. These rely on the push effect because they urge the addressees to deal with the advertising message or the offer.
These instruments are also relevant in the B2B area but take a back seat in favor of inbound marketing or complement it. For example, looking after prospects (leads) attracted by inbound marketing through individualized newsletters is one of the outbound methods that are often used in B2B marketing.
Account-based marketing means that marketing campaigns are aimed at a small group of very similar business customers or, in extreme cases, only at a single company. For the effort to be worthwhile, there must be a chance of very lucrative business relationships.
The addressees of the marketing measures are the decision-makers of the respective companies. Both inbound and outbound instruments are used, which complement each other in their effect.
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The Most Popular Measures In B2B Marketing
Marketing campaigns always consist of several measures that build on one another. First of all, it is essential to get attention. After that, the interest must be maintained and further developed until, ideally, the deal follows.
It is more critical than in the B2C area that marketing, sales, and service harmonize perfectly and that existing customer relationships are maintained. A tool for Customer Relationship Management ( CRM ) can help.
Five Measures In Inbound Marketing
Business customers research very carefully before purchasing and investing. This is where inbound marketing comes in. The measures aim to enable potential customers to discover the offers themselves when looking for solutions to problems.
In B2B marketing, the regular publication of suitable content is an excellent opportunity to draw attention to your own company and to build interest in your offers among potential customers. Among other things, the following are suitable for this:
- Blog article
- Case studies
Offer topics for each phase of the customer journey so that initial, general research on the addressee leads to your results, as searches for specific details. Also, think about the members of the buying center and their different prior knowledge and expectations.
The first goal in B2B marketing is to generate leads. This means that interested parties leave their contact details because they are interested in further information. Further measures then build on this.
Search Engine Marketing
In most cases, B2B customers start their research using search engines. With SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you can ensure that your content is created in the context of content marketing, and your website is also found with reasonable search requests.
Also, SEA (Search Engine Advertising), i.e., paid advertising on search results pages, can increase your visibility in the short term. In this context, it becomes clear that inbound and outbound marketing cannot always be clearly distinguished from one another.
Make sure that your website is user-friendly and up-to-date. Visitors should find the information they want in high quality and immediately recognize where they can get more information or make contact.
Social Media Marketing
Many companies are active in social networks and use them for their marketing and exchange, and research. As far as B2B communication is concerned, XING and LinkedIn, in particular, offer good opportunities.
In the context of inbound marketing, it is common to share your content and attract attention through posts and comments. The activities can be supplemented by paid advertisements on social media, which are counted as outbound marketing.
Research for suitable offers and business partners in the B2B area is often carried out via specialized portals. This is where B2B marketing can also start. Examples of such platforms are:
- Industry portals
- Supplier directories
- Project exchanges
- Affiliate networks
- Auction platforms
It is advisable to be present on different portals. Think where representatives of your target audience would look to find your offers.
Cooperation with influencers such as experts, journalists, or bloggers is also worthwhile in B2B marketing. Let z. B. Interview or present a case study together.
In addition to an appropriate reach in the respective target group, expertise and credibility are particularly important. This promotes your awareness of crucial B2B decision-makers and has a persuasive effect on them due to the recommendation character.
Four Measures In Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing combines many classic marketing instruments. It is also used in B2B marketing, even if the focus is on inbound methods due to the possibilities of the Internet.
Email marketing is only an issue when the addressee has given their email address and has become a lead. With the support of a marketing automation tool, you can personalize the emails and adapt them to the recipients’ level of information and interests.
This outbound method also complements inbound marketing as part of lead nurturing. This means that the interest that has built up is sustained and developed further.
In B2B marketing, advertising does not address the broad masses but only a limited target group. However, similar advertising media are used, e.g., B .:
- Advertisements on websites, on social networks, and search engines
- Print advertisements, e.g., B. in specialist magazines.
- printed advertising material ( flyers, brochures, leaflets)
- Outdoor advertising
One problem with advertising is that many addresses are now advertising-blind and hardly notice the messages. Well designed and used in the proper context, advertising can also achieve the desired effect in B2B marketing and support other measures.
Trade Fairs And Events
Trade fairs and events are significant in business-to-business marketing. Since the visitors actively decide to participate, it is a hybrid of inbound and outbound marketing.
Trade fairs offer the best opportunities to present your own company and to make contacts with interested parties. The event and experience character is becoming more and more critical. Keep this in mind if you want to stand out from your competition.
Cold Calling On The Phone
Calling potential business customers without prior notice to present their products or services is still common in B2B marketing. Good preparation is critical here.
Although the success rate is relatively low, telephone acquisition can also be worthwhile. This is the case when very lucrative business deals are created in this way.
Five Measures In Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing is not fundamentally different from inbound or outbound marketing but rather combines elements from both approaches. The highly individualized focus on individuals or a few business customers is typical. Thorough research is, therefore, the essential preparation for all marketing measures. This shows where targeted B2B marketing can effectively start.
Research which topics your target accounts are currently interested in or whether specific problems are pending. If z. For example, if a company is expanding its product range and might need exactly your solutions for this, publish the appropriate content.
Also, note in this context the stages of the customer journey and the different information needs of the buyer personas. Choose suitable forms of content such as white papers, advice articles, or webinars.
Emails can be customized using marketing automation tools. This is done very carefully in account-based marketing and is tailored precisely to the addressee (s).
This concerns the content, the timing, and the coordination with other marketing measures. The prerequisite is that the addressee has already become aware of your company and has given their consent to receive the email.
You can also target advertisements on the web to specific B2B customers. Paid advertising on social networks or websites is suitable for this, which requires correspondingly precise tracking. For example, within the framework of remarketing, unique customers who have already visited your website are addressed via advertising banners.
This type of advertising can complement other account-based marketing measures. If z. If, for example, the company’s attention being advertised has already been won through exciting content, a suitable advertisement will remind you of your problem solutions.
Ideally, personal calls are only made when the addressee has already expressed interest, i.e., has become a lead. Otherwise, the chances of success are not exceptionally high.
Phone calls are significant in B2B marketing. This way, questions and details of the often complex products or services can be clarified directly. In any case, good preparation is essential.
Outdoor advertising through posters or similar advertising elements is a classic form of outbound marketing. This can also be used for account-based B2B marketing.
If z. For example, if an advertising poster is placed directly in front of a courted company, one hopes that the responsible decision-makers will perceive it. This measure is particularly effective when the advertising message conveys solutions to the company’s current problems.
Develop A Strategy For B2B Marketing Step By Step
In B2B marketing, too, the chances of success depend on the right strategy. It is essential to select the appropriate methods for your target group and coordinate them with one another.
Develop your strategy step by step:
- Determination of goals Determine which overarching goals you would like to achieve with your marketing strategy. Is it primarily about acquiring new customers or increasing brand awareness?
- Market and competitor analysis Analyze your direct competitors and developments in markets that are important for your company. This can give you clues for your B2B marketing.
- Characterization of the buyer personas Analyzes how the typical buying centers are composed in your target group of companies. Then identify the characteristics and requirements of the individual buyer personas so that you can address them individually with your B2B marketing.
- Selection of measures Determines the individual criteria for your strategy. A mix of inbound and outbound marketing has proven itself.
- Definition of objectives for individual measures Determine which sub-objectives you want to achieve with the aid of the individual steps, e. B. the generation of leads through content marketing or sales through telephone acquisition.
- Detailed planning Determine how you will carry out which measures and when. Also, plan the budgets.
- Success measurement Measure success with key figures that are based on your initial goals, e. B. New customers, sales, or market share. In this way, you can identify prosperous and less successful measures in B2B marketing.
Check your strategy regularly and look for optimization potential. But also keep in mind that success may not be immediate.
Conclusion: Pay Attention To The Subtleties Of B2B Marketing
B2B marketing is not fundamentally different from that in the B2C area. Because in the end, it is always about convincing people of your offer.
However, there are some subtle differences that ultimately also affect the selection of methods and the design of the strategy. Content marketing has proven to be particularly effective, as it meets the needs of many business customers for thorough information.