B2B Marketing in the Ever-Changing Digital Landscape
Successful marketing is hard to get it optimized. From incessant demands, to budget restrictions, and decision making, a merchant has so many issues to deal with when conducting a marketing strategy. And yet, your audience is the major determining factor of successful marketing.
If you’re not correctly targeting the exact consumers, your publicity and advertising campaigns may probably be ignored or disregarded. Actually, you may end up cutting off the marketing process.
In this article, we will review the following headlines:
- Definition of B2C Marketing
- Definition of B2B Marketing
- What is the Difference Between B2B and B2C Marketing?
- Digital Marketing for B2B Business
- Digital Marketing B2B Strategy
- B2B Event Marketing Ideas
- B2B Marketing Success Stories
- In a Nutshell
Definition of B2C marketing
The term business-to-consumer defines any trade exchange between a business and individual consumers. B2C refers to the buying and selling of products or services from businesses to end consumers, i.e., retail stores.
Usually, this term is used to describe trade between traditional brick-and-mortar stores and customers who walk in.
Nevertheless, currently we also apply B2C for online shopping. When a customer shops online, it is a B2C transaction.
A famous example of a 100% traditional B2C model is McDonald’s, the fast-food giant supplies its products for customers only through physical shops.
Amazon.com is an example of an e-commerce B2C model. Today, it is the world’s largest online retailer.
Most car makers around the world, like Ford, sell both B2C and B2B, i.e. business-to-consumer and business-to-business.
B2C is only one of six different business models. In a B2B model, one organization sells to another organization. If you sell your car to your neighbor, it is an example of a C2C or consumer-to-consumer transaction.
G2b, or government-to-business, takes place when, for instance, your company buys information from a government agency.
B2G, or business-to-government, is common in the defense industry. Most defense technology firms sell equipment for the government.
G2C, or government-to-consumer, is a trade that takes place when an individual pays the government for a legal paper.
Definition of B2B Marketing
B2B marketing refers to the techniques and best practices used by companies to sell their products and services to other businesses. Approximately, 65% of global trade output involves B2B sales, compared to 35% which is B2C.
Let’s look at the four characteristics of business markets:
Nature of demand
1.1. Nature of demand is variable in business markets.
Demand is derived from consumers. For example, in the commercial aviation industry, air passengers stimulate demand (the consumers determine the number of flights and what they are prepared to pay). However, each aircraft is a product of hundreds of supplier organizations.
1.2. Demand is variable in business markets, simply because it is derived.
Fluctuations develop according to consumer preferences and behavior. This means that organizations should monitor and anticipate demand, as supply-demand cycle goes on.
1.3. Demand is inelastic in business markets.
Once a manufacturer has incorporated a differentiated product into its processes, unforeseen and uncontrollable price increases have to be absorbed until a redesigned product can be developed.
Complex buying processes
Complex buying processes means the level of risk is low for B2C commodities which are usually quick purchase based on emotional appeal.
B2B product purchases are more complex; there is a higher potential risk and decision-making takes much longer to start the selling process. You need to understand the procurement center, which is the decision-making department of the buying organization, which includes all the personnel that participate in the business decision making process.
The five roles in the procurement center include: users, influencers, buyers, deciders, and gatekeepers.
International aspects of B2B markets.
Product or service adaptation might be required depending on the use of the product in the specific overseas market.
The international ISO standards mean that products, such as steel, chemicals, plastic, and paper, have common ISO standards and require little adaptation, if necessary.
Outsourcing is an important function of B2B purchasing. Companies need to know the key product and service to keep in-house, and which ones to outsource to other providers.
The relationship focus
It is about establishing stable collaborative relationships based on confidence and responsibility by both B2B partners.
Relationship management is the core of B2B marketing, and it entails close attention to gain and retain new customers for a sustainable growth.
What is the Difference between B2B and B2C Marketing?
On one side, we have the emotional-based, occasional, impulse buying — this will be B2C marketing. On the other side, we have the highly rational, slow, logical buying, which takes ages to make a decision — this will be B2B marketing.
Generally, we can summarize the differences between B2B and B2C marketing as follows:
1. In B2B marketing, you are not only capturing intent. It is not necessarily someone searching for your product, using Google to find it. You have to create intent, which means that your marketing programs must have more complex attribution. You should target the right audience in multiple ways, to get them want to make a purchase.
2. In B2B marketing, you are selling to an account. You are selling to multiple people; thus, there will be a lot of influencers involved in the buying decision. It is not just an individual, there might be one or two people who can say Yes, but there will be seven or eight who can say NO.
3. In B2B marketing, not everyone is likely to become a customer. It is a high value and low volume, so likely you will make fewer of large deals.
4. The attributes of relevance, or the attributes of making someone likely to become a customer. It is not their behavior such as buying cameras or plane tickets, but actually what type of company they work for. It’s a waste for both sales and marketing to spend dollars and effort against companies that really have almost 0% probability of becoming revenue.
Accordingly, marketers need to spend their marketing dollars and effort against companies that fit the profile of their best customers, that’s where the efficiency will come into play. This means that they need to be able to identify and track those companies through the entire buying journey.
We can also proactively target those audiences with display ads, with the right message at the right time, in order to create interest, and mindshare within the specific companies that are well qualified to become customers.
With the man-to-man basis approach to identify companies, we can uniquely track a company from the earliest stages of the buying cycle, target them with display ads, recognize exactly what they’re doing on your website, optimize that experience with the right message and content, and then track their performance all the way through your CRM system. In other words, better connecting spend to revenue against a consistent view of an account.
Download this pre-built free marketing plan template and use it to ensure you have a thorough, effective, and deliberate plan of action.
Digital Marketing for B2B Business
Often, I encounter the claim that people search a lot of the case studies and examples that researchers conduct in digital marketing and say “This is very good, but it doesn’t apply to me, because my firm is business-to-business.”
I have met a lot of reluctance in the business-to-business area on how to employ digital marketing for B2B.
Frankly speaking, B2B organizations are moving slightly slower than many B2C, business-to-consumer organizations. An appreciable part of this argument is grounded on the fact that a lot of reviewed case studies are made for the large scale, and inventive campaigns.
With digital, big finance can produce really clever results on social networks. But, a person would hesitate and reply “I don’t think this really applies to my business.” Actually, digital marketing for business-to-business is so painless and straightforward, once you get your mindset on the goals to achieve.
This very much relates to the way we deal with content marketing. Normally, we witnessed so many people exploiting digital for B2B marketing, only to thrust out sales messages. They rely back on the conventional sales process, saying out “We launched a new product, come to our special offers, etc.”
Today, you need to think about two different phases.
The first phase is how do you engage your audience, even when they’re not aware of your product, or they are not yet at the point of purchase?
In fact, this is going to be about content marketing. What content can be provided to actually engage with that audience?
That content can be digital marketing for B2B guides, thought leadership, or podcast series, or it can be many things.
But, are you really providing value to that target audience, when they are at the top of the sales funnel? And are you finding ways of driving traffic to your website, even when they’re not at the phase of buying?
The next phase is the definite active phases that you will undergo, when we are researching and buying a product. Depending on the business-to-business product or service this could take a couple of days, or a couple of years. Therefore, you need to find ways of engaging with your audience over that period of time, and you should answer the queries they might have about my product or service. Such as, how it works, frequently asked questions, among other queries.
It is not necessary that the purchase will occur online. Probably, they go later and dial a phone number, or fill in a form. Indeed, that is our real purpose with the digital marketing campaign.
How can I attract that call? How can I attract that lead capture form?
Traditionally, you should produce content marketing at the top of the sales funnel, where you should post and create content.
Remember, content should be optimized for the search engines (SEO optimized). Your customers are going to engage with that through social networks.
By now, you have identified the phases of the purchase cycle, and you are creating content to answer what people inquire about.
Then, you should measure the main objective of drawing someone to fill in that lead capture form, or call the phone number through your online analytics, let’s say Google analytics.
Now with web forms, filling in a relatively straightforward form, or phone numbers, there are lots of services out there that will generate telephone numbers that are specific to certain stages or pages of your website.
You can start to work out where that phone call came from as well. Actually, digital marketing is really effective for B2B, but it is not about broadcasting and pushing out sales messages.
It is about providing an engaging content, demonstrating your knowledge and place in the market. Also, it is about creating the right material to assist people make informed buying decisions.
Then, tracking what is effective and what is not, and redoing this process. When you explore these examples, that are financed by big budgets, you need to contemplate the following, “How can you apply this? How does this suit your buyer’s journey? And how will you assess the value added to your audience? Not only when they are actually intending to buy my product, or service, but also reasoning on engaging with them more through content marketing.
Digital Marketing B2B Strategy
If you are running a B2B company, you may find it a little complicated to utilize social media for B2B digital marketing strategy. However, multiple B2B companies have launched successful campaigns. Then, you can do it too.
Let’s review these 5 B2B digital marketing strategies:
Consciously choose your social media platform
Be it Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. A lot of users fall into the misstep of making an account on each platform. If you did the same, probably you will find yourself mismanaging them, feel too inundated, or spending too long time consistently manage them.
This is the reason that you should select only one social network platform. Regularly, LinkedIn is the favored platform for B2B companies, because it is easier to find the firm decision-making persons than on another platform.
Optimize your social media account
In other words, customize it in a way that makes you be prominent from the clatter, and draw a suitable audience. This begins by uploading a Square profile photo.
If your photo is not at the exact size, then it can probably be cropped and make you appear like an amateur. If you are the face of your business, the profile photo should be a close-up portrait of you. If you are not the face of the business, then your profile photo must be your trademark or logo.
Then, depending on the platform you are using, you may need to upload a banner, as the first thing your visitors will meet is your banner. Here, you have less than 3 seconds to capture and stimulate your visitor’s interest. Take the size of the banner into account, and do not upload any image(s) with the wrong dimensions.
If you do this, a part of your image could get cut off, and make you look unprofessional. It is also critical that your image(s) included in the banner are relevant to your business. Too often I see pictures or users’ banners that do not reflect the field of their business or the ultimate benefit of using their services.
A banner should always include some copy. To be more specific, your unique marketing hook or headline.
A marketing hook is a short sentence that explains to your audience what you do and the ultimate benefit of using your product or service.
Also, you should insert your site URL, beneath your marketing hook.
Having finished uploading your banner, it’s time to focus on the description of your profile on the social platform.
This is a short section that describes who you are, your profession, and how are you going to help people.
For example, you could say business consultants passionate to support HR managers hire efficient employees in the fastest possible way.
As soon as you’ve optimized your social media account, you need to put together a strategic plan.
A prudently assembled content plan and social platform strategy could make the difference between reaching zero results and experiencing an actual increase in business, supported by true evidence behind it.
This is the reason you must not post anything on social networks, unless you have first prepared a plan and strategy.
Simply, a social media plan and strategy is the sum-up of the whole plan you intend to carry out for your business through social networks. Sadly, so the little fraction of B2B business owners have wisely constructed any social media strategy and content outline.
Therefore, social networks marketing ends up being a waste of time instead of being an efficient channel for B2B digital marketing.
Prepare a strategic plan
To put together a strategic plan, you will first need to set goals, because goals will outline your performance strategy. Certainly, there are different goals from one discipline to another, depending on the competitors’ performance, and the business requirements to achieve, in order to employ social media as an effective marketing channel.
Now, you can create a content plan, when goals have been set. To do so, simply reverse-engineer how much content, what type of content needs to be published, and when and how much advertising is needed in order to achieve these goals.
Dependent on your goals, there are a variety of tools you can use to track your progress. For instance, you can use Clickmeter.com if your primary goal is to increase the number of clicks to your website through Twitter, as a tool to monitor clicks generated from Twitter, in general, or from single tweets..
Alternatively, if your goal is to increase the mass of your audience on Facebook, you can opt to Facebook Insights to help you monitor the growth of your followers. Needless to say, there are several social media tracking tools that are very effective, such as sproutsocial.com.
Remember, a social media strategy and content plan are never set in solid form, they evolve with your changing business goals, and should be adapted, according to the ensuing outcomes.
Publish multi-dimensional content consistently
Posting unique and engaging content has many benefits:
- It helps you establish trust with your potential customers.
- It ranks you into a position as an authority or a special person in your industry.
- It allows you to remain in front of the user’s mind.
Therefore, publish daily content that is interesting and relevant to your target audience, whenever possible. This can be anything from industry news, video clips and photos of your business, infographics, or your articles’ testimonials to humorous content.
The key is to vary the content topics, in order not to be predictable, also add value to your target audience, which you should do it consistently.
Finally, we reach our last digital marketing b2b strategy.
Run paid advertising campaigns
There are many reasons you should consider using social media ads.
- Because of the current organic reach, social media platforms, such as Facebook, have been dramatically decreasing the organic reach of your posts. In other words, they are showing your post to only a very small percentage of your audience.
- Because it’s among the most inexpensive ways to get traffic and leads.
- Because you have the ability to reach new audiences in a very short space of time.
- Because of the wide range of targeting options. You can market to people based on their geographic location, their language, job title, interests, marital status, people they follow, media they consume, and the mobile device they use, among many other things.
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B2B Event Marketing Ideas
What is B2B event marketing?
B2B event marketing is an offline lead generation tool and, therefore, a pipeline generation to that. B2B companies use the benefit of B2B events that you have the ability to put your sales in front of your prospective customers.
This way, your sales can build a relationship with your prospect straight away, and this will shorten the sale cycle. They will also shorten the time it takes for yourself to create a new opportunity in the system. So, you have to understand why people actually go to B2B events.
Let’s say you are a C-level person at a big company, the reason you would go to an event is to network with your pears, to gain that knowledge on a certain subject, but also some keynote presentations are very valuable for them. Thus, the audience are really looking for gaining knowledge from the field.
C-level personnel: The “C” stands for “Chief”, as in (CEO) chief executive officer, (CFO) chief financial officer, (COO) chief operating officer, and (CIO) chief information officer.
Here are 5 Practical B2B event marketing ideas
Whenever you create a plan for a B2B event, always include your stakeholders before the event. If you have to make a decision on attending each trade show, talk to your sales directors, and talk to your management. If you are going to buy-in, then the chance of success will be higher.
Also, you should set up a well-established digital marketing strategy to support your events.
An alternative to in-person B2B events, the virtual event. It is very efficient as well. It requires by far less resources. People don’t have to travel. Hence, it’s easier for people to attend these events, and it is more scalable as well.
We already talked about it a little in the above paragraphs. But customers will let you acquire extra value out of the events. If the customers are speaking for you, it’s much more powerful than when your sales are doing the talking. Therefore, always try to host B2B events together with your customers and prospects, and possibly your partner’s too.
It should be your ultimate goal to let your customers and your prospects mingle together, so they can talk about their business problems, and their solutions, without you interfering.
This is very powerful and should not be overlooked.
Whenever you arrange a B2B event, participate in one, or whenever you create one; always try to get one-to-one meetings. This allows your sales to connect to your prospects straightaway. It allows them to build a very stable relationship.
Essentially, it’s like a speed day. Your sales agents will talk about the problems, write notes, and then they will follow up after the one-to-one meeting. At the end of the one-to-one meetings, your sales department should be very determined in setting a follow-up meeting, which is the last of our event marketing ideas.
Actually, C-level members expect people from events to follow up one or two days after the event. In view of that, whenever you set up the B2B event, or whenever you attend the B2B event, this must be noticed. Your follow-up should start the day after the event.
If your event finishes at night, the first thing your sales has to do the next morning is to follow up. C-level persons are actually expecting this. As they have very busy schedules, they have allocated time in their schedules, the next two days after the event, for follow-up, so make use of this time.
If you don’t do this, your sales are going to have a much higher time connecting to the C-level personnel, and this will result in driving less revenue out of the event as possible.
That’s why you should always start follow-up right after the event, this means that your marketing automation should be perfect.
B2B Marketing Success Stories
Although B2B organizations usually do not deal directly with the individual customer, that doesn’t mean they should stay under the shadows of oblivion. Actually, many B2B firms are still in direct contact with consumers, like Apple, Xerox, and ZEISS Optics.
Here are 4 B2B marketing success stories:
Xerox Corporation is the world’s largest supplier of toner (dry ink) copiers and accessories. Its headquarters is located at Stamford, Connecticut, although most of the company’s buildings are located near Rochester, New York, where it was founded.
Xerox highly identifies with its product, that the term “xerox” is frequently used to refer to photocopiers, even if they are made by other brands, and in English it is used as a verb with the meaning of “make photocopy”.
It is noteworthy that the “Xerox” company is the “father” of the Graphical Interface for computer software, which is designed to replace the command line by a set of dialog boxes and graphics. Then, the Graphical Interface was adopted by Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, before Microsoft copies it and calls it “Windows”.
The Graphical Interface is still, until now, the dominant user interface. In a statement to Steve Jobs, more than two decades ago, he said that Xerox would have owned the largest informatics industry in the world, had it not been for their decision to sell this idea to the owner of the Apple company.
Forrester Research is a publicly traded company. They provide market research and analysis on the existing and the upcoming information technology.
Forrester Research was founded in 1983 by George F. Colony in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In November 1996, the company went public. In addition to organic growth, Forrester acquired the following companies:
Fletcher Research, UK internet-focused analyst (1999)
FORIT GmbH, a German market research company (2000)
Giga Information Group, a US market research company (2003)
Jupiter Research, a US market research company (2008)
Today, Forrester Research operates eight research centers in the United States (Cambridge, Foster City, Washington, Westport) and Europe (Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, Paris).
Mailchimp is an email marketing service provider, founded by Mailchimp Company, as a side project, in 2001.
MailChimp started as a paid service and added a free version 8 years later. The company’s logo is a chimpanzee, and humorous images on the subject are included both on the site and in its communications.
As a podcast advertiser, MailChimp sponsored the launch of Serial, a podcast that explored a murder case over several episodes.
MailChimp also appeared as a sponsoring company in a parody of the podcast on an episode of Saturday Night Live.
In 2016, MailChimp occupied the seventh rank on the Forbes Cloud 100 list.
Salesforce was founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez and began as a company specializing in Software as a Service (SaaS). In June 2004, the company was listed on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol CRM, with a capital stock of $ 110 million.
In a Nutshell
At the present time, with the outstanding progress of digital marketing, many organizations have been adjusting to adapt to B2B and B2C as well. A classic example is Microsoft, they serve both individual customers and firms.
We hope that this article provided you with useful information on B2B marketing, the noticeable differences between B2B and B2C marketing, digital marketing for B2B, and strategies for B2B, among other topics.
Regardless of what type of business you intend to build, take into account the major elements that will assist you to effectively launch and run your business.