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B2B Marketing: The Ultimate Guide To Marketing

DATE

1 July 2024

WRITTEN BY

Jeevan

B2B marketing is as challenging as it is interesting. In addition to overcoming the challenges of generic marketing, like raising awareness and getting your customers to buy your offerings, you also need to deal with customers who have the same concerns you have as a business owner.

Just imagine making a purchase for your business. While you wouldn’t think twice about buying a toothbrush for yourself, you can’t say the same about an AI-powered analytics software for your business. You would need pages of data, presentations and multiple meetings before buying that software.

The same is true for your customers if you are a B2B business. An effective B2B marketing strategy will ensure that your business can face this challenge head-on.

That’s what we’re aiming to do with this guide. Our ultimate guide to B2B marketing will help you learn everything you need to know about B2B marketing, from how it’s different from B2C to how to use it effectively.

Understanding B2B Marketing

The first step to mastering B2B marketing is understanding it. So, let’s get that out of the way first.

What Is B2B Marketing

B2B, or business-to-business marketing, refers to any marketing strategy geared towards selling your offerings to another business. B2B businesses generally focus on building long-term relationships, which is the goal of B2B marketing. This is because the products or services offered by B2B businesses often involve subscriptions or periodic purchases.

The focus on building long-term relationships is only one of the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. There are many more, which we’ll talk about down below.

What Is The Difference Between B2B and B2C Marketing?

At a glance, B2B and B2C marketing operate on the same general principles: identify the target audience, raise awareness, and convince them to choose your business.

However, the fundamental differences between B2B and B2C forces B2B businesses to take a different approach to marketing. How? Let’s find out.

1. Target Audience

As can be seen from the term, B2B marketing is geared towards other businesses. This does not mean that a business is seen as a monolithic organism.

A successful B2B marketing strategy understands that a business comprises individuals with different goals and ideals and caters specifically to them.

This means that a B2B marketing approach should identify the goals of each individual in the purchase process and convince them of the benefits of your offerings.

This is different from B2C marketing, where the business only needs to convince the final customer to make the purchase.

2. Complexity Of Transactions

B2C transactions are often very direct: the customer has a need, chooses an offering to satisfy that need, and then makes a purchase.

Compared to that, B2B transactions are incredibly complex. From longer sales cycles to the reasons behind the decision-making process, B2B transactions are vastly different from B2C. Let’s look at how these differences can influence your B2B marketing strategy.

  • Sales Cycle: B2B sales cycles are often longer than B2C due to the negotiations involved and the decision-making process. This means that a B2B marketing strategy should account for this lengthy period of time and reinforce the messaging of the brand.

  • Transaction Values: In most cases, the transaction values involved in B2B are much larger than those involved in B2C. Convincing your customers to part with such large sums of money would require more effort on your part.

  • Decision Making: Purchase decisions in B2C are influenced by a host of factors, including emotional appeal, brand perception, and social influence. Compared to that, B2B marketing requires a rational approach highlighting cost-effectiveness, quality, and ROI.

3. Relationship Building

For B2C businesses, a long-term relationship with the customers is necessary for future transactions. However, building long-term relationships is even more important in B2B marketing.

Almost all B2B business transactions involve subscriptions and renewals. This makes building long-term relationships one of the primary goals of B2B marketing.

The long sales cycle of B2B transactions also necessitates building long-term relationships. This is to reinforce your business’s messaging and raise the likelihood of sales.

These differences prove why a specialised approach to B2B marketing is required. However, the role of B2B marketing in business growth goes beyond this.

The Role Of B2B Marketing In Business Growth

The role of B2B marketing in business growth

B2B marketing is a specialised approach for businesses that sell to other businesses. This is because the requirements for B2B businesses to succeed are just as specialised. For example, lead nurturing, providing case studies, and collaborative opportunities are some of the requirements that are important in B2B.

What B2B marketing does is provide strategies that help businesses achieve these requirements unique to B2B. Here are some of the objectives that B2B marketing aims to achieve:

1. Raising Brand Awareness

To succeed, B2B businesses need to raise their brand awareness among professionals and business owners. B2B marketing helps them by using specialised channels, industry-specific events, and industry leaders to reach the right audience.

2. Generating Leads

Generating leads is necessary for any business to succeed. However, unlike B2C, B2B lead generation is a slow and cumbersome process that requires more resources. B2B marketing can help your business create strategies for each stage of the marketing funnel to move them down the funnel efficiently.

3. Nurturing Leads

As mentioned before, the sales cycle in B2B is longer than in B2C. This means that your business needs to nurture the leads throughout the sales cycle to keep them interested in your business. B2B marketing uses case studies, product demos and content marketing to do exactly this.

4. Build Relationships

B2B marketing is focused on creating long-lasting relationships with the customers. This will ensure that your customers are willing to purchase your products again or renew their subscriptions.

A generic marketing strategy may help a business raise awareness and generate some leads, but specialised B2B marketing strategies are necessary for B2B businesses to achieve their objectives. Let’s now look at some of these B2B marketing strategies.

Effective B2B Marketing Strategies

Numerous marketing strategies can help a business succeed. B2B marketing employs these specific strategies, as they have proven to be the most effective in the B2B industry.

1. Paid Advertising

The most effective way to reach your target market is to spend money. Paid advertising can take many forms. In the age of the internet, the most efficient form of paid advertising is pay-per-click (PPC). It works by paying the advertising platform for every user who clicks on your ad.

There are many ways to use PPC advertising. The popular ones include:

  • Search Engine Ads: You pay search engine services to display your website on top of the search results when a user searches for specific keywords.

  • Display Ads: Just like billboards along the highway, you display your ads on websites.

  • Social Media Ads: Your ads and content show up in the social media feeds of your target audience.

  • Video Ads: Your ads will show up before or in between videos on platforms like YouTube.

  • Native Ads: You can pay websites to display content you have sponsored as part of their regular content.

2. Search Engine Optimisation

When someone requires a product or service, one of the first things they do is search online. Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, will ensure that your website ranks on top of SERPs for the right keywords.

SEO is the most efficient way to reach your target audience, as it is completely free. All you need to do is optimise the content of your website to include the specific keywords your target audience will search for. Of course, doing it right would require specialised knowledge and expertise. A digital marketing agency like TargetG could easily help you with this.

3. Social Media Marketing

Over 62% of the population uses social media, and an effective B2B marketing strategy should take advantage of this fact. Platforms such as LinkedIn are perfect for executing B2B marketing campaigns targeted at professionals and business owners.

The advantage of social media marketing is its high reach. It is incredibly useful for raising brand awareness and starting customers on their buyer journey. In fact, platforms like LinkedIn can even support lead-generation campaigns with in-built functions.

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is a tried-and-tested B2B marketing strategy. Over 73% of B2B marketers use email marketing already. It’s no surprise, either. Email marketing offers many benefits, which are particularly useful for B2B marketing. These include:

  • It is useful for communicating regular updates, newsletters and offerings, which keeps the customer engaged with your business

  • It can automate emails for marketing purposes and to respond to customer actions

  • It allows you to send personalised communications, which is useful for relationship-building

These benefits and its incredibly low cost lead to an ROI of 42:1, one of the highest for any marketing strategy.

5. Video Marketing

According to Google’s Consumer Insights, over 70% of all B2B buyers go through videos in their decision-making journey. This makes it one of the best B2B marketing strategies you can use.

The advantage of video marketing for B2B is not limited to its reach. Video marketing is effective at grabbing attention, engaging the audience, and creating a personal connection with your customers.

Furthermore, video marketing can be used to display customer testimonials and product demos. This can, in turn, increase conversions.

6. Content Marketing

Unlike the other B2B marketing strategies on this list, content marketing is more pervasive because it influences every other strategy here. Content marketing is all about effectively using content to achieve your marketing objectives.

This could include:

  • Using the right keywords in the website’s content

  • Getting your messaging across in your ads

  • Increasing audience engagement in social media posts

  • Succeeding in your calls to action in your marketing campaigns

  • Creating resources for lead nurturing

These are just a few examples of the role played by content marketing. Every B2B marketing strategy needs to use content marketing effectively to succeed.

7. Account-Based Marketing

Finally, we have the most effective B2B marketing strategy. Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, is a B2B marketing strategy that focuses on a limited number of key clients. The objective is to focus resources on high-value clients and use personalised campaigns to convert them.

Depending on the industry and the resources available, ABM may not always be an option. However, it is incredibly effective in niche industries and industries with high-value clients.

Every marketing strategy has its own advantages. Some are good at raising brand awareness, while others are good at converting customers. This does not mean that any of these B2B marketing strategies are mutually exclusive. In fact, most businesses would use a combination of these strategies.

Choosing a B2B marketing strategy depends on your objectives and the available resources. It becomes easier to choose them when you clearly understand how you want your overall marketing strategy to take shape.

Do you want your customers to come to you, or do you want to go to them? To answer this question, we have classified marketing strategies into two: inbound and outbound marketing.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

Inbound and outbound marketing are two sides of the same coin. The ultimate objective of your B2B marketing strategy is to generate sales and build relationships. Both inbound and outbound marketing aim to do this, but in vastly different ways.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing, otherwise known as the “pull strategy”, refers to marketing strategies that attract or “pull” customers to your business. It has three stages:

  • Attract: Attracting the target market to your business by raising brand awareness and visibility. This is followed by generating interest in your business.

  • Engage: Engaging with potential customers who have shown interest in your business to lead them towards a sale.

  • Retain: Providing a great customer experience to keep your customers from leaving your business.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing is also known as the “push strategy”. It refers to marketing strategies that push your messaging to your target customers instead of waiting for them to come to you. Similar to inbound marketing, it has three stages:

  • Targeting: Identifying the target audience with the highest potential of converting to paying customers.

  • Messaging: Effective messaging is used to reach out to your target audience and convert them to paying customers.

  • Retargeting: Following up with potential customers to ensure the completion of the sale.

Inbound and outbound marketing may seem like opposites. However, they are more complimentary than you think. For example, attracting potential customers through inbound marketing campaigns can help you find a target audience for the messaging stage of outbound marketing.

A combination of both inbound and outbound marketing is the most beneficial for B2B marketing. However, that depends on your objectives and the resources you are willing to invest.

Now that you know what B2B marketing is and the more effective strategies that come under it, let’s look at how you can build your own B2B marketing strategy.

How To Build A B2B Marketing Strategy

How to build a marketing strategy

Your B2B marketing strategy is one of the core aspects of your business. It determines how well you attract customers and generate profits. It also plays a role in your brand perception and your success in the industry.

That’s why creating a B2B marketing strategy requires careful planning. Follow these steps to create a B2B marketing strategy to effectively achieve your objectives.

1. Identifying Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience is more complex than determining who needs your product or service. It also considers who is more likely to trust your brand and make a purchase.

Your B2B marketing strategy revolves around this target audience. Follow these steps to identify your target audience accurately.

Step 1: Market Research

This step involves thorough research of the population, industry, and market. Your goal is to identify buyer needs and their pain points to determine your ideal customer.

Step 2: Create Buyer Personas

Once you have identified an ideal customer, you should create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a template of your ideal customer, including demographic data, pain points, income and behaviour.

2. Positioning Your Offerings

Once you have a buyer persona, it is time to take a look at the market to determine how you can cater to your ideal customer. For this, you need to understand your competitors, industry trends and the market situation.

With the relevant information, you can choose how to position your offerings to convince your ideal customer to make a purchase. Your positioning determines how effective you are at marketing your business.

3. Set Your Objectives

Now that you have an idea about your ideal customer and have determined your positioning, you can determine and set your objectives. Your objectives can include raising brand awareness, generating leads, building relationships, etc.

When setting your objectives, it is important to follow the SMART approach. SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

4. Deciding Your Marketing Approach

After setting your objectives, you can choose how you want to market your offerings. Select a combination of B2B marketing strategies mentioned above that you feel is best for attracting your ideal customers and aligns with your positioning.

Conduct research and try different B2B marketing strategies to determine what works and what doesn’t. Market testing is essential before major investments in any strategy.

With the data from your research, you can determine which B2B marketing strategies you should invest in, what channels to use and how much you should invest.

5. Implementing Your Marketing Strategy

Implementing a marketing strategy is not a one-step process. Once you have clear objectives and methods to achieve those objectives, you can start creating B2B marketing campaigns.

Your B2B marketing campaigns should have well-defined objectives and key results. Track these to determine how your campaigns are progressing at every step.

Some of the metrics that are relevant to B2B marketing are:

  • Lead Generation (Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads)

  • Conversion Rate

  • Customer Acquisition Cost

  • Customer Lifetime Value

  • Return On Investment

These metrics can change depending on factors such as customer behaviour, industry trends, or disruptive technology. A successful B2B marketing strategy should be malleable and not too rigid, allowing it to adapt to these market changes.

6. Measure And Improve

Your B2B marketing strategy does not end with achieving its objectives. Regardless of the success or failure of your marketing campaigns, they provide important information.

Collect and analyse this information to identify areas for improvement. This data can also act as a benchmark for future strategies to determine their success.

With the advance of technology, collecting and analysing data is now easier than ever. In fact, technology has made the entire process of B2B marketing more efficient and accessible.

The Role Of Technology In B2B Marketing

Technology has changed rapidly in the last few years. Artificial intelligence is now an accessible tool that plays a vital role in marketing. With AI-powered technology, many aspects of B2B marketing have now become accessible. Such as:

1. Market Research

AI can analyse terabytes of data in a few minutes. With access to the internet, the right tools can increase the efficiency of market research exponentially.

For example, AI-powered tools can analyse social media to determine customer behaviour and identify opportunities. AI can also collect data from the market to identify industry trends and even predict them.

2. Analyse Customer Engagement

Every action taken by an individual online is recorded. With its power to analyse huge amounts of data, AI can parse through this information to analyse how your customers interact with your business online.

Customer engagement is a determining factor in how well your B2B marketing strategy is received. With AI, you can not only understand it better but also make changes easily.

3. Optimise Content

Content on the internet is ruled by algorithms. From search engines to social media platforms, algorithms pick and choose content that is relevant to the users.

Just like these algorithms can identify relevant content, AI-powered tools can identify what content is more likely to be visible to your target audience.

With this information, you can optimise the content of your website, social media pages, and other forms of communication to ensure that it is noticed by your target audience.

4. Provide Customer Support

One of the more recent developments in AI is generative AI. This type of AI can generate content based on input through text or voice. Businesses can use this to provide customer support through chatbots.

These tools can respond to queries and solve issues and move your customers through the marketing funnel. This will drastically decrease the cost of customer support and increase the efficiency of your B2B marketing strategy.

5. Automate Repetitive Tasks

A lot of marketing involves repetitive tasks like collecting data or sending out communication. With the power of machine learning, AI can learn these tasks and automate them with little personal input.

Email marketing is an example of this. AI-powered email marketing tools can send out emails in response to customer actions such as making an enquiry or non-renewal of their subscription.

AI-powered tools like Hubspot are great for increasing the efficiency of your B2B marketing strategy and reducing the cost of operations through automation.

AI and the Internet are powering the future of B2B marketing. From raising awareness to generating leads, knowledge and experience in digital marketing are necessary for B2B businesses to succeed.

If you feel that your efforts could be better used to improve other aspects of your business, let TargetG assist you. Talk to our experts today and revolutionise your B2B marketing strategy.

Further Reading:

How To Generate Leads For B2B.

B2B vs B2C Marketing.

Vidoe Marketing In B2B.

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