The world of business to business marketing (B2B) is both effective and powerful. But marketing to other businesses, rather than direct to consumers, can be challenging. It’s a skillful art that you need to hone and refine. You’re not marketing to the stay-at-home-mom researching on Google. You’re not trying to reach the college kid searching for new football cleats.
You’re speaking to organizations, trying to solve their pain points. And the most important part of B2B marketing is remembering that your messaging needs to speak to anyone within a business – from an organization’s researcher, to the order manager, to a C-level decision maker. And if that isn’t challenging enough, most often, you’ll be speaking to each and every one of these levels, at some point during the buyers’ journey.
- So, how do you transform your marketing tactics into language they understand?
- How do you get them to the point where they’re ready to complete that buyer’s journey?
- How do you convince them to convert from prospect, to solid lead, to customer?
Learn more about how marketing business to business is done, and find out everything you need to plan, implement and execute a B2B marketing strategy that takes your brand to the NextLevel. With our B2B guide, you’ll learn all there is to know about:
What is B2B Marketing?
B2B marketing is the practice of exposing a brand’s service or product to another business instead of directly to a consumer. Business to business marketing has several distinctions from business to consumer (B2C) tactics. The obvious difference is how you position your messaging. Remember when we mentioned above that you need to hone your message so it speaks to several different stakeholders in an organization before they’ll buy from you? Your messaging isn’t just important, it’s likely where you’ll spend the bulk of your time crafting any B2B marketing campaign.
But even more important than keeping your messaging relatable, regardless of who is looking at you, is the idea that virtually NO (or very few) B2B deals will close unless buyers see a near-proven return-on-investment (ROI).
B2B companies have one goal: to sell themselves as problem solvers. They may be selling a product or service to be resold (items from a distributor that will go to a marketplace to be sold to consumers). Or, they’re purchasing things they need simply to run their own business (think: office supplies or software).
Regardless of which camp a B2B company falls in, the basic premise is the same: if you’re marketing B2B, your goal is to attract a sophisticated team of stakeholders. Your strategy needs to reflect this.
Fun fact: According to Forrester, 82 percent of B2B buyers will look at five (or more!) pieces of content from a brand before they purchase.
B2B Marketing Strategies
In many ways, B2B strategies are actually quite similar to B2C marketing. After all, they’re both targeting an end-consumer, and those end-goals really are the same: to sell something. The biggest differences between B2B and B2C are in how the strategies are implemented and in the path the buyer takes to get from research to decision making. When marketing to a business, you need to follow a series of strategic, methodically laid out, measurable steps.
A significant distinction between the B2B and the B2C buyer is how each comes to the purchase-making decision. When marketing B2B, the most important aspects are going to be cost and the return-on-investment (ROI). And, as we’ve already discussed, there will most-often be multiple decision makers involved in any major purchase. This means campaigns have the tricky job of speaking to all those various levels throughout the chain of command, in language and messaging that makes sense to and attracts each.
In contrast, B2C marketing is reaching buyers who tend to let more than just price point influence their decision. Equally persuasive can be emotions, trends and popularity.
Finally, keep in mind that even though marketing strategies are vastly different, B2B and B2C techniques will often overlap. For example, social media interaction and promotion are increasingly important to both types of buyers.
B2B Content Marketing
Content marketing is a non-negotiable in the digital age we live in. This is true for every type of marketing effort. And content refers to more than “just” blogging. These days, everything from YouTube videos to an Instagram post constitute content. Brands are vying to succeed in an incredibly competitive landscape, and the opportunity content marketing offers to surge ahead of the competition is both intriguing and rewarding.
But don’t take our word for it. Check out these stats on how B2B content marketing is making (and will continue to make) its mark…
- Brands that use content marketing have on average conversion rates that are 6x higher than those that don’t. (Aberdeen Group)
- A whopping 80 percent of business owners and executive-level decision makers would rather learn about a company through its digital articles as opposed to ads. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 95 percent of B2B buyers trust the digital content they find when considering buying; 73 percent review case studies; and 47 percent look at between three and five different pieces of content before buying. (DemandGen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report)
There’s no denying that content marketing works in B2B marketing strategies. It’s been proven, time and again, that it’s effective. Blogging, social media promotion, premium downloadables like whitepapers and eBooks, webinars, YouTube videos, email campaigns, infographics, checklists and more…it all can work for you.
Despite what anyone may try to convince you, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still important. Why? Because B2B users are still searching online for solutions to their problems. Those problems may include everything from needing breakroom supplies they’ll use in their own organization to needing products they’ll resell direct to their consumers. How will they find what you’re selling? They’ll search online. So as long as there’s Google, there will be a need for SEO.
Keyword research and optimizing your content is incredibly important. Take, for example, /bulkbookstore.com/. They rank #2 for the keyword term “wholesale books,” which has 2,400 searches a month...and it’s a term that businesses search when looking for business partners. The qualified traffic they’re getting because they rank well for that B2B keyword is huge. Targeting the keywords that businesses you want to work with are searching for can lead to significant results.
But keep in mind, SEO is about much more than just keyword research and the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) – yes, optimizing your content so you rank high in Google’s results is important, but there are many other technical aspects of SEO that are just as important and can have an impact on rankings as well.
For your B2B marketing to succeed, buyers need to find you. Factors like slow page load speed, high bounce rates, broken links and site security can all have a drastic and even devastating impact on how well your site ranks. Following best practices and keeping the technical aspects of your site clean, correct, tight and monitored can make a world of difference in both traffic and qualified leads.
B2B Social Media Marketing
It may surprise some people to hear just how important B2B social media marketing is, but savvy marketers understand that social actually might be the number one channel in terms of effectiveness and ROI when it comes to B2B buyers. Years ago, broadcast media was the name of the game, but digital marketing has changed all of that.
Now, social engagement is one of the single most effective channels in marketing B2B. Not only can it establish a brand as a thought leader in any given industry, but social also creates and strengthens relationships between brands and buyers. The trickle-down effect here is customer loyalty, brand awareness and an uptick in referral-based business.
In the world of B2B marketing, if you’re not social, you’re missing out.
Other B2B Marketing Strategies
There are numerous B2B marketing strategies that can propel your brand to a higher level. From site development, to how you brand and promote yourself on social, there are several strategies you can implement today to increase your B2B sales tomorrow, including:
- Remarketing – also known as retargeting, remarketing targets the statistically-averaged 98 percent of users on your site who won’t convert after finding you. Find them, and serve them ads.
- Event Marketing – build relationships with buyers through events, which traditionally have generated the most leads of any B2B marketing tactic employed.
- Video Marketing – wildly effective for the B2B market. Did you know that the majority of B2B buyers watch videos before making a purchase decision? Videos are a fast, easy way to gain information about a brand, service or product. And busy decision-makers will often seek them out in their research phase.
- Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) – targeting ads to the right buyers can be a game changer. PPC allows you to do just that.
- Marketing Automation/ Email marketing – stay top-of-mind and nurture prospects with email campaigns that cement a potential (or current) customer’s view of you as a thought leader. Send webinar or trade show dates, newsletters, blog posts, service or product update announcements and more.
- Content Marketing – content is like publicity…it’s always a good idea. But for the B2B buyer, certain types of content will outperform others. While it largely depends on what stage a buyer is in, case studies and other testimonials and reviews tend to be extremely effective.
- Partnerships/Affiliates/Awards/Testimonials – associating your brand and name on the coattails of a well-regarded industry association or affiliation can win trust and give buyers just the right amount of encouragement they need. Awards speak volumes to any consumer, B2B or otherwise. And literally nothing is more effective than a great reference.
- SEO – most B2B researchers start with generic online searching. Make sure you rank high in the results.
How to Create a B2B Marketing Strategy
It will take some time to craft a B2B marketing strategy that’s ready to launch, but we promise you, put the time into it, and you’ll see the reward. Follow the steps below to create, implement and execute a marketing plan that can take your customer base and revenue to the next stage.
1. Find your audience
Who are you selling to? Decide exactly who your target audience is. Then, determine what they’re like. Demographics? Gender? Interests? Pain points? Motivation? Preferred method of contact? Favorite social channels? All these ideas need to be flushed out. Essentially, you’re creating a fictional character to represent YOUR B2B BUYER.
2. Know their weakness
Describe, determine and define any and all major pain point(s). Use competitors for this part. By doing extensive competitor research, you’ll be better able to figure out what your buyers’ weaknesses and strengths are, and you’ll also know what opportunities and threats may exist.
3. Recognize your goals
What will it take to establish you as a leader, to pull ahead? Do you need to brand yourself better? Do you need more conversions or more leads? Is engagement an issue? Set a concrete goal, work toward it, and revisit and reevaluate it often.
4. Build out a workflow
Think through, and then create, an actual visual of your campaign workflow. This will ensure you’re implementing something that works. One of the most important benefits to having a workflow in place is that you’ll be able to create all the assets you are going to need throughout the campaign. Think: landing pages, display ads, premium downloadables, emails, branded retargeting copy…all content you’ll want to create before you kick off.
5. Assess your SEO position
Where are you in terms of technical SEO and content? Is your site performing well? Are you keeping up with all the best practices in SEO? Are you creating enough content? Promoting it effectively?
6. Test and tweak
Test what you’re doing, and tweak it if needed. Use your data, analytics and goals to see if your strategy is working. If it isn’t, meaning declining sales or lost leads, it’s time to reevaluate.
B2B Marketing Examples
B2B marketing, when done well, is as memorable as it is effective. Check out some of our favorite B2B marketing campaigns for inspiration.
Example 1: The Wolf
Have you watched HP Studio’s “The Wolf” video? Check out this brilliant, engaging, creative way HP presents how important printer security really is. Think automated security monitoring and user authentication is a snooze fest? Think again. And Christian Slater’s blue teeth from cake frosting is really just…well…the icing on the cake. With more than 2 million views, we’d venture to bet others like it too!
Example 2: Values
Deloitte takes purpose to a new level with their campaign on the importance of values. A bold move by the brand, Deloitte proves that standing out can drive you forward. Take a look at how they are taking a stand, letting their audience know exactly what their core values are. They’re so inspiring, we want to work with them!
Example 3: PR
Press releases have never been cooler (or more effective) than since Cision’s “What if PR Stood for People and Relationships?” campaign took off. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Launched nearly five years ago, the eBook was published, chock-full of great tips, lots of humor and input from major industry influencers. Cison rounded out the campaign with a contest, a Google event at the giant’s headquarters and a follow up that’s specific to your actual results.
B2B marketing takes a lot of work, grit, determination and dedication. But when you nail it, it’s the thrill of a lifetime, because being able to solve someone’s problem is nothing short of exhilarating. Are you ready to learn more about how to craft a B2B marketing strategy that gets results? Contact NextLeft today.