“It’s fascinating how the fundamentals of business-to-business marketing are the same today as they were 50 years ago. It’s still about relationships although today we have new tools and techniques at our disposal.”
-David Meerman Scott
Marketing is constantly involving. Though one sector of marketing which has remained constant is B2B marketing. This sector is often sidelined and clients are treated in the same way as B2C clients.
This, along with other mistakes, is addressed here that can be easily avoided.
In the glamorous world of advertising and marketing, B2B Marketing is often ignored.
Just because your marketing strategy is business and not consumer-focused does not mean it has to be boring!
B2B marketing thrives around information. For a long time, the style of B2B Marketing has been focused around communicating what features the business can provide to its clients rather than investing in communication that shows capabilities and ability to transform the client via a strategic partnership.
Unfortunately, a lot of confusion persists around what do B2B marketers do; unlike selling soap, deodorant and mobile phones, businesses behave differently with regard to every consumer personas because every persona is actually a million or billion dollar giant.
Here are some basics decoded:
Businesses sell to other businesses but that stems from the consumer’s demand at the end of the day:
It is easy to think of selling components or IT Technologies to customers in silos. However even when businesses operate in a value chain where they both buy from and sell to other businesses, they still function from the derived demand from the consumer at the end of the value chain.
Ignoring consumer insights while closing in on business deals is a common mistake.
Complexity and Risk are pervasive:
Decision-making units are incredibly complex in Business to Business Marketing. You are speaking to a constantly evolving Decision Making Force (DMF). The DMF here could consist of individuals moving in and out of the organization, those at the lowest rung to the highest tier of hierarchy.
Even when decision-making power is vested within similarly ranked people in an organization, different stakeholders from the finance to tech to procurement etc., each team might have disparaging interests.
Therefore, while you design communication for one organisation and for one product etc., you are talking to a dozen different buyer personas. This is a given considering the risk and value of any B2B purchase is high.
Hence marketers have to demonstrate high levels of expertise and present product or service in a manner that does not cause any stakeholder to become a detractor.
Emotions have no place in B2B Marketing:
If you are marketing to a consumer, you can derive benefits out of a 1000 different impulses (Black Friday Sale! BOGO!) or another 1000 excuses (Mother’s Day? Buy the best jewellery for the best woman in your life!). Even worse, you can just tap into people’s insecurities and get consumers lining up to buy your products via hedonic and sentimental appeal.
However, in a formal, structured set-up, any sentimental appeal that you broach for needs to be backed by data, reports. Individuals can be swayed by appealing to baser instincts but not an organisation.
Therefore, B2B marketers need to grasp the reality of the emotional man wrapped in a corporate persona making decisions that could either be a hit or a miss.
Obviously, it’s not true that someone in B2B Marketing will be entirely rational. Personal biases and preferences creep in but buying technology from other businesses cannot be compared with buying a car based on colour, or purchasing a holiday on a whim. This makes personal selling and personal relationship management extremely critical in B2B selling. The limited database of businesses in a particular sector also aids or hampers B2B marketers.
B2B marketers need to interact over a longer period of time in a more engaging, and rational relationship than standard B2C Marketing. Branding, positioning and awareness are the raison d’etre for any marketer but the primary reason why a B2B marketer exists is to drive the objective of sales.
So, though there is a tremendous amount of shakeup in the marketing industry, the principles of B2B marketing as a time-consuming, relationship-driven incidence remains constant.
Therefore, marketers cannot rely on traditional tools and conversation metrics such as advertising promotion. However, search marketing, event-based marketing, personal selling and a wealth of content marketing opportunities are open to B2B professionals.
Selling expertise, influence and trust are the three things that B2B marketers drive to firmly anchor themselves in the world of Industry and Business oriented Marketing.