Marketing to businesses is massively different from consumer marketing. Individuals making purchase decisions for the organizations they represent must often put more thought, care, and rationalization into any purchase or investment, necessitating a marketing process intrinsically different from selling to that same consumer for their own needs.
The B2B decision-maker is rational, budget-conscious, and value-conscious, and must often defend any purchases to a board of directors or stakeholders.
Your B2B marketing programs must target your audience correctly and offer everything they need to move through a relatively complex buying process, in which comparison, building relationships, and building trust will be a large part of that decision.
These 5 keys of B2B marketing will put you on the right track to landing sales and driving new clients.
1) Understand Your Audience
B2B marketing is all about targeting. If you don’t understand your audience and their needs, you can’t help your audience. This applies whether you’re selling a SaaS solution or hardware. Most B2B companies will have a relatively large demographic split into numerous “Buyer Personas,” each of which has her own problems and reasons for investing in a product.
Demographic – The full range of consumers interested in purchasing your product. This should outline the general wants and needs, what your product does, what is solves, and so on.
Buyer Personas – Buyer personas help you zoom in on your demographic to look at different types of potential buyers. Here, you should identify different personalities, different problems, how you solve those problems, and so on.
- What problems does the organization face?
- How do you solve those problems?
- Can you group different buyers based on problems?
- How do you solve problems for your client’s customers? Can you group clients based on that?
- How do customers research you? Can you group them based on research and buying prep?
- How can you identify each of these types of customers?
Buyer personas allow you to better target your audience, to better train sales representatives to react to different customers appropriately, and allow you to better create leads. This allows you to offer prospective customers the right information in the right ways to increase your chances of driving a sale. A study by Cintell suggests that businesses that research their buyer drivers and document personas are significantly more likely to meet or exceed revenue and lead goals.
2) Branding for Your Audience
Good branding will make or break any business but it can be essential for B2B in more ways than one. Here, most businesses are looking for key factors that point out you will make a good partner.
Growth – Most organizations want a business that is roughly the same size as them and scaling at the same pace. Brand your growth to meet the expectations and wants of your prospective customers as much as possible.
Transparency – B2B is all about trust. That means offering transparency and consistent communication as part of your brand. Consider offering live developer notes, sharing backlog, or creating transparency for processes and problems in and around your organization.
Quality – Everything from your website to your advertisements on any medium should look and feel quality because that is part of your brand. If your organization is willing to put out less-than-quality work for itself, you’ll likely do worse for your clients.
Most people will make a near-instantaneous gut-decision about your product before really looking at all the facts. This aligns with confirmation bias, and it’s often related to branding and what prospects see and hear about your organization before actually interacting with it.
3) Going Omnichannel
Omnichannel marketing, including digital marketing, digital out of home, out of home, and mobile marketing are all important. Business clients are typically busy, unable to easily spend time dedicated to researching everything for themselves, and often need information in bite-size and portable formats.
An effective omnichannel marketing strategy means targeting customers based on when, where, and how they will come across marketing efforts. Ask questions like:
- What are buyer personas lives like?
- Where do they frequently interact with media?
- How can you distribute messaging across mediums to align with buyer lifestyle and time and the sales funnel?
- What KPIs will indicate marketing efforts are working?
For many organizations, quality omnichannel marketing programs typically include a range of efforts at different steps of the sales funnel.
New Leads – New leads are driven by PPC, Social Media, and SEO for digital (mobile and computer) connections, and digital signage and brochures at events and in-store and business. Ads should connect with specific buyer personas and offer value rather than simply pitching a product.
Relationship Building – Make touchpoints through email, phone, website, and social media. Most of this content should be informative and helpful. Offer mobile content like apps, short-format content for help articles, and
At the end of the day, you know your customer base best and you know how and where they interact with your organization. Create touchpoints across channels to make those interactions easier and more effective.
4) Nurturing Leads
B2B marketing is more about relationship-building than advertising. Businesses often need partners rather than a quick purchase, which should change your entire approach to each customer. Nurturing leads means connecting to consumers on a one-by-one basis, offering assistance, and offering education. This is important because it builds trust, allows you to better understand the consumer, and puts you in a position to actually help your buyer once they become a customer.
What does that look like in practice? This actually largely depends on your organization, the value of a single sale, and your infrastructure. An organization with a relatively high-value clientele could easily assign a sales representative to each new client, follow up with them, and then offer personalized information, assistance, and demos to that client.
Organizations with lower value sales likely can’t afford to do this, but can use automation and drip feeds to continue to offer value through mobile and email marketing. Other options might include:
- Custom proposals and strategies
- Free demos and assistance
- Free trials with in-house assistance
- Webinars and e-training
- Articles and guides to help consumers make better choices
Connecting to leads and building relationships with them is crucial for any B2B organization. They should feel like they know your organization before they decide to make a purchase, because this will likely influence whether or not they make that purchase at all.
5) Follow Up
While driving an initial sale is often the hardest part of B2B marketing, most B2B earnings come from repeat sales and business. Organizations increasingly offer long-term support and services alongside once-off sales, meaning that maintaining your business relationships is crucial, even after a sale.
While maintaining relationships is increasingly seen as important, even in consumer-facing marketing, it’s significantly more important when working with organizations that are likely growing, more likely to trust your organization and therefore make larger investments in a few years, and more likely to be in a position where you can help them because you’ve worked with them for years and understand their needs.
Create touchpoints with any organization you work with to offer maintenance, support, continued contact, and assistance optimizing or improving your product in their organization.
B2B marketing is all about relationships, trust, and marketing in the right place and the right time. While the exact application will greatly depend on what you are selling and why, most organizations can benefit from applying those factors in whatever way suits their needs.