Marketing your products or services to businesses can be difficult. As an individual, you’re very familiar with being marketed to as a consumer, so you have a preconceived idea of how to market to other businesses. However, selling to businesses (B2B) and selling to consumers (B2C) require very different processes.
What Is B2B Marketing?
B2B marketing is the process of one business marketing its products/services to another business. Business to business marketing is needed when one company’s output is required for another company to maintain or improve its operations.
Some B2B marketing examples include:
- An industrial pump manufacturer is attempting to market and sell their products to an oil and gas producer.
- A commercial construction company is attempting to market and establish a contract to build out the office space for a law firm.
- A heavy equipment dealership is attempting to market and sell industrial equipment to a construction company.
What Is a B2B Marketing Agency?
A B2B marketing agency is a third-party marketing company that specializes in tailoring your business’s marketing message to other companies. B2B marketing experts understand the subtleties of targeting decision-makers for premium-priced products/services.
Why B2B Marketing?
Business to business marketing is important because most companies rely on the products or services of other companies to function. It’s very rare that the entire production and distribution process of an organization is 100% self-contained.
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For example, your favorite clothing brand likely sources their raw materials from farms and the fabric dies from chemical companies. Your favorite cell phone brand likely purchases the components of their devices from third-party companies and pays shipping companies to distribute the end product.
How are these vendor relationships formed? It all starts with identifying B2B marketing opportunities and then tailoring your brand’s message to a company that needs your products/services.
Another key reason why B2B marketing is important is the length of B2B relationships and potential for increased revenue. Selling to consumers typically involves a single purchase of a low-cost item. When a business sells to another business, the cost of the good or service may be substantial and necessary on a regular basis.
For example, when a landscaping company sells services to a large office campus, it might involve a contract that spans several months and is worth tens of thousands of dollars. This is quite different from a consumer paying for a one-time landscaping job in their backyard.
Types of Business to Business Marketing
There are three main B2B marketing techniques that you can employ for your business. Consider how each of these can be used at your business, then research your competitors to see if these B2B marketing programs will work for your industry.
Digital Marketing for B2B
Digital marketing is a scalable way to get your products or services in front of the right people. A digital marketing campaign makes it easy to track ROI, and you can use granular targeting to reach decision-makers.
For example, LinkedIn ads can target individuals with certain job roles so that you can directly target a purchasing manager or executive. If your ideal customers are searching for your products or services online, you can use an SEO company to make sure your web pages are at the top of the search results.
Traditional Marketing for B2B
Traditional marketing strategies for the business to business market casts a wide net and tends to be expensive, but it helps build brand equity. You can use radio, television, or print ads to grab the attention of your potential customers and remain top of mind. You’ll be in the running when those companies are looking for a new vendor.
Personal Selling for B2B
Personal selling is one of the oldest and most effective B2B marketing methods. Personal selling leverages face-to-face networking and relationships to get deals inked. This is the least scalable way to market your business to other companies, but it has the highest conversion rate.
Personal selling is frequently paired with digital marketing. Digital campaigns generate leads that are followed up in person by a salesperson.
9 Examples of How to Do B2B Marketing
Business to business marketing companies have nine main strategies for improving B2B lead generation and sales. The following B2B marketing programs are proven ways to help grow your business.
- Customer Pain Point Research
- Reviews, Testimonials, & Case Studies
- B2B SEO
- Social Media for Business
- B2B Advertising
- Referral Systems
- Influencer Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Campaign Tracking and Reporting
1. Research Customer Pain Points
Successful B2B marketing starts by researching what your customers need. Just because you’re offering a product or service doesn’t mean customers will come running. Find out what drives the demand for your product/service, and how you can stand apart from the competition.
One way to better identify your customer needs is to form customer user groups. Similar to focus groups for a new product, customer user groups leverage the people that are already benefiting from your offerings. For example, after interviewing your customer user group, you may find that marketing for IT companies is more effective when you focus on the pain point of cloud security. Identifying these pain points can go a long way when tailoring your marketing message.
User groups can be conducted in person, or you can build surveys that uncover the unique pain points that customers experience before searching for your solution.
Other research methods include doing keyword research to discover organic search demand or leveraging existing data about your industry.
2. Prioritize Reviews, Testimonials, and Case Studies
One of the most effective B2B marketing strategies is leveraging reviews, testimonials, and case studies from existing customers. This builds credibility in the eyes of potential customers who need to know your products or services can deliver.
Reviews and testimonials are important to your B2B digital marketing strategy as well. Reviews can be leveraged online to help your brand outrank competitors and improve your organic and Google Ads click-through rates.
Case studies are helpful the closer you get to a purchase decision. For example, when customers have a list of potential product/service providers together, they’ll want to see how you’ve performed in the past. Having a case study of a similar customer might be the proof your prospects need to see before making a big purchase decision.
3. Use B2B SEO
Search engine optimization is a valuable asset to your B2B online marketing. Prospects need to make informed decisions, so they conduct preliminary online research. If you’re not a top result for the product or service you’re selling, you might not even be considered as a potential vendor.
One way to improve your SEO is by leveraging content marketing for your business website. Content marketing helps position your brand as an authority to both search engines and users. By regularly publishing highly educational content, you show your subject matter expertise and help users make more informed decisions.
4. Use Social Media for Business
Social media has evolved from a determining dimension to a qualifying dimension. Simply having a social media presence will no longer set your business apart from the competition. You are expected to be present and active on the major social channels, and your absence could rule you out for potential customers.
Business purchasing managers use social media reviews and cultural cues to decide if your organization is a good fit. This is especially true for creative industries, such as businesses looking for top marketing companies or professional services. There are plenty of reasons why your business needs social media marketing, but just being active on your channels may no longer cut it.
Organic reach for social media has been declining over the past few years due to user saturation. For the most exposure to potential customers, you need to have a paid social media budget.
5. B2B Advertising
Your B2B internet marketing should include paid spend on search and social media. These paid B2B marketing services can generate great ROI if done correctly.
Learning how to successfully advertise on social media can help you meet your prospects where they already spend their time. The decision-makers and purchasing managers that you’re targeting represent businesses, but they are just people at the end of the day. They spend time on social media channels, and you can use the advanced targeting features of today’s popular social channels to reach them.
Paid search is also a great way to target relevant prospects. The difference between organic vs. paid search is that you can jump the line and appear at the top of the search results without having to pour time into SEO.
Paid search targets your prospects for their exact interest at the exact moment they’re interested. Traditional marketing often relies on user demographics for targeting. This is why many business to business marketing strategies prioritize digital over traditional.
6. Set Up a Customer Referral System
One of today’s most underrated B2B marketing strategies is establishing a referral system. Referrals have always been a huge source of new business for companies, but the spotlight has mostly been on digital marketing over the past decade.
Try to build customer referrals into your B2B marketing process from the very start. You can employ paid or natural methods to get referrals.
Establish default periods of time where you gauge customer happiness, and solicit referrals from happy customers. For example, if are a commercial lawn care company, consider sending out an email every six months that a customer has been with you to ask for feedback about your services. If the customer leaves you positive feedback, let them know that you’d appreciate it if they could spread the word with their network.
The paid approach would follow the same process, except you’d offer an incentive. For example, you could offer 10% of the next month’s retainer for every new customer referred. This would come at a very small cost to you and would generate a significant amount of revenue.
7. Use Influencer Marketing
Partnering with influencers can be a very effective marketing strategy for B2B businesses. It makes the most sense to leverage this if there are well-known public figures for the industry you’re targeting.
Going back to our commercial construction example, if your construction firm is trying to get contracts for restaurant build-outs you could partner with a public figure that most restaurant owners follow. Sponsoring a promotional article about your restaurant designs on Gordon Ramsay or Guy Fieri’s blog could be a great way to generate leads.
There’s a good chance you know about local influencers in your target industries. If you’re operating a local business, these local influencers are probably a relevant and cost-effective way to improve your business to business marketing effectiveness.
8. Leverage Marketing Automation
The use of marketing automation is becoming more and more popular as a business to business marketing tactic. You can use automation to engage with and nurture business leads, as well as integrate all of your marketing channels.
For example, if someone fills out a form to download a case study on your website, marketing automation can be used to follow-up with related, personalized emails. This is a great way to maximize the usefulness of every single contact that your B2B marketing techniques generate.
Be careful not to overwhelm your business contacts with marketing automation. If your emails become too frequent or your messaging becomes too personalized, you could cause a contact to unsubscribe from your marketing list.
9. Track Your Campaigns and Use Reports
How will you know if your B2B marketing strategies are effective? Before you implement any strategy, develop a system for tracking its effectiveness.
If you’re engaging in B2B SEO, what will you use to measure rankings, organic traffic, and conversions? If you’re advertising on social media, do you have to correct pixels installed so that you can trace ROI back to its source?
If you’re using forms of traditional marketing for B2B, they might be more difficult to track. However, just because something’s difficult to track doesn’t mean you should avoid measuring it. If you want to improve your marketing effectiveness over time, you’ll need to track and regularly review reports about the marketing KPIs that matter most to your business.
Let MARION’s Experts Handle Your B2B Digital Marketing Strategy
At MARION, we have over 30 years of experience with B2B marketing in Houston. Our marketing team consists of digital marketing, graphic design, and traditional marketing experts with proven track records.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help your business grow!