Creating a B2B marketing strategy that drives revenue and increases sales can seem like a daunting task a lot of the time.
It’s a lot easier to accomplish when you know the right tactics to combine to achieve the results you’re looking for.
B2B Marketing and B2C Marketing are NOT the same
Business-to-business marketing and consumer marketing share some similarities—they both involve products that are sold to people—however, they differ in several key respects.
- The stakes are higher in B2B marketing: If a consumer buys the wrong kind of cereal that nobody at home likes, there’s probably going to be no consequences for that. But when a business buys a software solution that turns out to be inadequate, they stand to lose thousands of dollars from the purchase and consequences to their operations and processes. Losing a customer also has a higher impact due to the smaller size of the market and higher customer lifetime value.
- B2B marketing has to account for a complex decision-making unit: It usually takes a single person to decide to patronize a consumer product. Whereas, B2B products require the input of several decision-makers, who have to vet the purchase to determine whether it meets the company’s requirements and expected ROI.
- B2B marketing strategies have to consider longer sales cycles: Unlike B2C products which are usually bought using simple criteria such as reviews and social proof, the complex nature of B2B products requires businesses to conduct in-depth research on available options and their overall impact before purchasing.
- Consumer products can get by on packaging: Consumers are more likely to be seduced by packaging than B2B buyers because the latter are more interested in what the product actually does. A good B2B marketing strategy would focus less on the appearance of the product, and take a pragmatic approach and check efficiency, benefits and actual value.
These differences between business and consumer-oriented marketing strategies require changes in approach so you can have an effective strategy.
5 Ingredients of an Effective B2B Marketing Strategy
To overcome your company’s challenges and supercharge growth, there are five ingredients that should never be missing from your B2B marketing strategy.
1. Defined Buyer Personas
The importance of knowing your target audience cannot be overstated. Don’t just assume you’re up to date with the habits and desires of potential buyers. The B2B market is smaller, so knowing who you’re focusing on takes priority.
Devote enough time to conduct audience research and customer interviews, and pay attention to what the data is saying, no matter how unflattering it may be.
Talk to former and existing customers and other people in your network who fit the buyer persona. This way, you can discover the pain points your customers have and then create a unique strategy to help alleviate them.
What are your customers’ fears, aspirations, and beliefs? What motivates them? Answering these questions correctly will inform the way you promote your brand.
Keep in mind that there are various buyer personas ranging from junior staff to board members, and your marketing strategy should engage with them all—onboarding focuses for junior staff while marketing efforts towards board members might focus on the decision to buy your product.
2. Comprehensive Marketing Plan
The buyer personas will help you develop tactics you will incorporate into your B2B marketing strategy and determine its success. The questions to keep in mind when creating a marketing plan are:
- How does it target all your buyer personas?
- Where does it fall on your buyers’ journey?
- What value does it provide prospective for clients?
- How does it support your key business goals
- What oversights or mistakes are your competitors making?
Your plan should tell you what type of marketing is required to address the needs of your buyer and move them from one point in the sales funnel to the other until they decide to buy from you, and most importantly, stick with you.
Always be on the lookout for problem areas that a little marketing can fix, whether it’s on your website, blog, or social media page.
3. High-Value Content
It’s not just what you have to say, but how and where you say it that matters.
Since B2B has a longer sales cycle than B2C, targeted content marketing is one of the most effective ways to convert leads into sales by nurturing it through stages in the sales funnel.
Your main goal is to create content that grabs the attention of the decision-makers. To do so, you must provide something of value—answer their most pressing questions, address their pain points, and offer expert opinion on issues in your field.
This builds trust, authority, and influences the people who make decisions to engage with you.
There are different forms of content marketing that you can use to nurture leads: blogs, infographics, webinars, case studies, e-books, testimonials, and industry reports.
The message of your content should determine the medium you use in sharing it, and not the other way round. Social media is an indispensable part of marketing, even in B2B settings. The best way to use social media for B2B marketing is to:
- Choose a platform that suits your needs – It’s unlikely for you to find B2B prospects on TikTok or Pinterest. The best B2B social media platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Post regularly – Engage with other users, drop a few thoughts on relevant industry news, and promote your content.
Being active on social media helps promote brand awareness, lead generation, and customer engagement with both current and potential buyers.
4. Unique Selling Proposition
Every day, software development companies are coming up with software solutions that help businesses save time and money, simplify and improve operations, solve problems, and easily accomplish their brand objectives.
But with so many of them on the market that are all targeting the same B2B clients, it can be extremely hard to provide their unique selling proposition (USP)—what makes them so different from all the other options.
Therefore, they must find the weaknesses of their competitors and then market their superior offer through case studies and whitepapers, but also a slogan that will make it clear what they offer right away.
Take Slack, for example. While they offer instant messaging as the primary solution, they market themselves with the slogan “Where work happens,” indicating they are a hub where everyone can collaborate and finish tasks faster.
5. Value-Driven Partnerships
This final ingredient involves leveraging the influence of third parties to increase awareness and promote your B2B service or product.
Think of ways that you can take proper advantage of platforms other than your own, such as events, websites, and social media pages that have built a considerable audience.
Some strategies that you can implement in this regard are securing speaking engagements at conferences, seminars, workshops, and other business-related events; publishing guest posts on other sites, and making use of influencer marketing.
In B2B, the stakes are higher for everyone involved. The wrong solution can cost a business hundreds of thousands, so buyers are extremely cautious with their buying decisions. The longer sales cycles make marketing for B2B much more complex, but a good campaign is, therefore, all the more rewarding.
Remember to track your results. If you want to know whether your B2B marketing strategies are working, then there should be a way to measure progress. This will also help you identify areas where you need to redeploy your efforts or change tactics if necessary.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.
- 5 Ingredients of an Effective B2B Marketing Strategy - January 29, 2020
- The Power of Creating Content that Educates - April 16, 2019