Marketing Focus – B2B Marketing
B2B stands for Business-to-Business Marketing and is a way for companies to connect with other companies and focus on selling to them, rather than going to consumers. You can be selling to a company for them to sell on to consumers, such as pitching your products into a supermarket, you can be selling them goods or products related to their business such as IT software or office supplies, or providing services that they need. B2B focuses on fewer customers, but normally the value of that order will be higher and the relationship with those business customers can be enduring and very lucrative.
When you’re marketing B2B you need to think about ROI and why your product or service is good for their business. They are making these purchasing decisions with their head, not their heart, so you need a rational, problem-solving approach. You need to understand that the customer journey from first contact to a sale will be longer and more involved, because there are usually many people involved and the proper channels need to be followed, but you will need only a few big B2B sales to have a profitable business.
The key B2B marketing tools are –
Direct Sales – B2B marketing is more straightforward than B2C in some way, in that businesses are easier to find and identify and their contact details are out in the public domain, so you can go direct and try to set up a meeting with the decision maker. Direct Sales takes confidence, persistence and good presentation skills. You often have to get past a gatekeeper such as a receptionist or PA to be able to speak to the right person, but by leaving information at the desk, following up on email, or on LinkedIn, you should be able to get your message through.
PR and Advertising in Trade Media – There is a wide range of trade media, both online and offline, which business leaders and decision makers tend to read, so by advertising or getting PR into these publications or websites you can get your product or service in front of a lot of your target customers. These are highly targeted media and so great to pitch news, opinion pieces or profiles to raise awareness of your product or service.
Networking – One of the best ways to market to businesses is with networking, where people get together to promote their businesses and look for alliances and partnerships. Now bear in mind that the majority of businesses who network are quite small, so may not be your target if you are trying to sell a high volume of product or have an expensive system or service to sell. However, these people can become your advocates to bigger businesses, or may already be dealing with them and can get you through the door. They can also be excellent partners to cross-promote or enrich your product or service offering, so this is an essential B2B method.
Trade Fairs – There are large events for each sector, which are excellent places to make new contacts and pitch your product or service. Taking a stand is very expensive, so this can put smaller companies off, but why not go as an attendee, collect cards, build relationships and get to know your potential customers better, this can be a great way to generate business for a low investment. Alternatively, think whether you can unite forces with some other companies who have complimentary products and services and share a stand to bring it within budget.
Events – Becoming a sponsor for an industry event for your target market is a great way to get noticed and ensure that a large number of potential clients will leave with your product information. Make sure you can network with the attendees or stand holders as part of your sponsorship, as this is an important part of making these events worthwhile. Alternatively, you can host an event yourself and invite your target customers along, just make sure that you are offering something they are interested in, whether that’s great entertainment, networking, or training, you need to make it attractive to make sure you get the numbers.
Quality Content – Business people tend to be hungry for high quality content; guides, webinars and blogs and will happily give you their contact details to read, or watch something good. Producing quality content which your target market want to read, and fits in with what they are searching for, is a good way to position yourself as an expert, improve your ranking in the search engines and capture data. Combine this with email marketing and you have a very strong sales strategy in the B2B world.
LinkedIn – This is the most powerful social media channel for B2B marketing online and is a fantastic way to contact decision makers and build relationships with them. Ensure your personal profile is up to date and includes any professional qualifications or professional bodies you may be part of. To get involved in the conversation, join groups where your target customers are, create a company page and post regular updates and articles to raise your profile.
If you’re just starting out on LinkedIn, reach out to your current contacts and people you worked with in past positions, or studied with to increase your network. Search for people you’d like to connect with, either due to their location, or industry and personalise your message to them, explaining why you’d like to connect. If they accept, follow up with an introduction to your company and why it is relevant to them, showing you understand their needs and it is not simply a generic request.
LinkedIn is just like all the other social media networks, in that it is about relationship building, so don’t spam people, but look for ways in which you can help them – like and share their posts or content and comment to establish a rapport, before going into hard sell mode! Consider targeted advertising via LinkedIn as well, to ensure your posts or sales messages get in front of the right people.
We hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration on how you can do successful business-to-business marketing. The B2B buyer journey is longer and more involved, but once you get a sale, it is generally high value, or the start of a very profitable long-term relationship, so the rewards are worth the effort. If you need help to improve your B2B marketing efforts through Advertising, Public Relations or Blogging, please contact us.