By Neil Patel
Your B2B marketing strategy will differ from your typical B2C approach.
Sure, you may notice some overlap between the two, but for the most part, you’ll need a new plan if you want to target other businesses.
Some of you may have companies focusing on other businesses as your primary group of customers. And some of you may be considered both B2B and B2C companies.
If that’s the case, one overlap you may see between the two strategies would be social media marketing. But the difference would be in the way you use it.
Here’s an example. You could be using Snapchat to promote your business as the B2C company. But that won’t be effective as your B2B strategy. But we’ll dive into greater detail on the social media subject later.
For our purposes, it doesn’t matter what type of company you have.
Whether B2B sales make up the totality of your revenue or only a fraction of it, you’ll be able to benefit from this guide.
I’ll explain everything you need to know about how to properly manage and approach your B2B marketing strategy.
Define your buyers
When it comes to B2B marketing, this step will differ from your typical approach to identifying your target market.
That’s because this scenario will be much more specific. You’ve got a unique product or service. Right away, you’ll need to recognize which companies can benefit from whatever you’re selling.
For example, let’s say you manufacture cleaning chemicals for commercial dry cleaners.
You may assume that any dry cleaning business in the country or your region will fall into your target market. While this may be true, that doesn’t necessarily help you define your buyer.
Take a look at this graphic that highlights some of the key differences between your B2B and B2C target audience:
With this information in mind, let’s continue with our dry cleaning example. Whom are you selling to? Is it the owner of the company? The production manager? Is it the person who answers the phone when you call the facility?
Recognizing who has the buying power isn’t the same as identifying your target market.
As we can see in the graphic above, you’ll be focusing your B2B efforts on a much smaller group of people. That’s why it’s helpful to develop a customer persona to boost your conversion rates. You need to realize that the customer persona will vary depending on which business you’re dealing with.
This is one of the first things you should do before going forward with your marketing strategy.
If your buyers aren’t clearly defined from the beginning, the rest of your campaigns won’t make a ton of sense.
Focus on long-term relationships
If you’re selling directly to consumer, it’s obviously important to put effort on customer retention as well. But these types of relationships are way more important for B2B companies.
Think of it like this. Let’s say you sell something simple, like desk chairs.
If a direct consumer buys a chair from you and never buys again, it won’t make or break your company. But let’s say a hotel chain decides to buy chairs for every single room in one of its new buildings.
This is a relationship you can’t afford to lose. That’s why you need to do whatever you can to go the extra mile for your B2B customers.
A B2C customer can just go online and order something from your website. But your B2B clients may require more in-person support:
Let’s continue with the chairs and hotel example. You’ve got a huge opportunity here to continue selling to this client in the future.
Maybe they’re going to build more hotels. Eventually, they’ll even need the chairs replaced in their existing buildings as well.
You can’t just look at the initial sale and be done with it. Always look toward the future, and try to build a long-term relationship.
Adding the personal touch of being present for a delivery of goods can go a long way when it comes to repeat business. I understand this isn’t always practical for every customer or every transaction, but do what you can if it means securing a long-term B2B client.
With B2B marketing, you need to make sure the customer is always satisfied. This concept relates back to our previous point about long-term relationships.
For the most part, satisfied customers will keep coming back.
There are certain things you can do to satisfy your B2B customers. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you sell file cabinets for offices. You wouldn’t send a free cabinet directly to the consumer, ask them to use it for a while, and then place an order if they want to buy more.
That just doesn’t make any sense from a B2C marketing strategy. How many file cabinets could one person possibly need in their personal home or office?
They would likely take the free one, and that would be the end of it.
But for a B2B company, sending free products to focus on customer satisfaction is a much more reasonable strategy.
To enhance satisfaction, you need to focus on the customer journey process after the point of purchase:
One or two free file cabinets is nothing if that satisfied customer buys thousands of units for their commercial office space. Take their feedback into consideration as well.
If they intend to make more purchases in the long run, you can customize your production specifically for that customer.
But we’ll talk more about this subject in greater detail shortly.
As I just said, under some circumstances, you might need to customize your products or services based on what the customer wants and needs.
Obviously, you’ll need to have some restrictions here. For example, if you manufacture cars and the client wants boats, you probably won’t be able to help them.
But if you manufacture 11-inch plastic bags, you should be able to manufacture a 20-inch plastic bag with the client’s logo on it to fit their needs. See the difference?
Again, this relates back to satisfaction and long-term relationship building.
Sure, you won’t be able to print that logo on any of your other products for the rest of your clients, but you’re hoping that this type of personalization will result in repeat business from that customer.
Furthermore, you should be personalizing your content to target your B2B customers. Currently, 68% of B2B marketers say they are testing personalized content and offers:
If you’ve properly defined your buyers, which I previously discussed, you can take that personalization strategy to the next level. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say your company makes coffee mugs and you’re selling a huge order to a business that gives them away as marketing material. All they want is their logo printed on the mugs.
While you are negotiating, you learn the company representative is an avid fisherman.
This may sound like just some small talk, but you could give him a personalized mug with his name and some kind of fisherman design on it as a gift.
While the gesture may seem corny, this added personal touch can go a long way when it comes to building a relationship with this company. When they are ready to order more goods, that representative will think twice before switching to one of your competitors.
Sell your story
Mastering the art of storytelling is crucial for both B2C and B2B businesses.
Having a great story and showcasing it on your website or as part of your value proposition can help you generate leads. But with B2B marketing, you need to position your story to help drive sales.
Tell your clients why you got into business. What’s your background? What’s your experience like?
If you’ve got years of experience in the industry you’re selling to, your clients may be more likely to buy something from you because your products will probably be made accordingly.
Not sure how to get your story out there? This is a great opportunity for you to start blogging:
As you can see from this data, B2B brands who blog generate more leads than those who don’t.
Here’s an example that shows the importance of your story. Imagine you run a company that sells something like gym weights and other fitness equipment.
Recall our discussion about defining the buyer. In this case, you’d be dealing with gym owners and branch managers. It’s safe to say these people have lots of experience with this type of equipment.
But if your background is in accounting and you’ve never worked out a day in your life, it’ll be tough for you to relate to these clients.
However, if you’ve worked in gyms for years and have a personal training certification, your story will help you drive these sales.
You can talk about the way your experience helped you make modifications to equipment to make it safer, more ergonomic, etc..
Pay close attention to your pricing strategy
With marketing, most people don’t tend to think about the price of what they’re selling. But that’s a key component to your promotional strategy.
There are so many factors for you to take into consideration here.
First of all, you need to know what your competitors are selling the same or similar products and services for. Second, you need to know how your price will impact the image of your company.
If the price is too low, will your potential customers think the product is cheap and not made from high quality materials?
When you set your price, make sure you have it at a point that’s enough for you to turn a profit. Factor in all your costs such as materials, equipment, labor, rent, shipping, etc.
You also need to leave some room for negotiation. These things don’t matter as much when you’re selling directly to consumer, but they make a huge difference for B2B clients:
Take a look at how pricing influences repeat purchases for B2B customers:
Three of the top seven responses, including the top result, are related to price.
Here’s an example to show you just how big of an impact pricing can make on a purchase. Let’s say you manufacture clothing.
You sell directly to consumer as well as to other businesses. The price of a plain t-shirt on your website is $15. If it were $14 or $16 instead, it probably wouldn’t have had a huge impact on how many people would buy it. If they’re willing to pay $15, they’re probably willing to pay $16.
But now think about your B2C clients.
Your price for that same shirt might be $7 if they buy it in quantities of 1,000 units. If a commercial customer wants to buy 5,000 shirts, the difference between $7 and $7.50 is $2,500 on that order.
Think about how those numbers scale if that same customer wants to repeat that order twice per quarter for the entire year.
That’s an extra $20,000 they’d be spending. If you think regular consumers are price-sensitive, know that B2B customers pay even more attention to price.
If they weren’t so picky, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business.
Recognize how your buyers consume content
You won’t be advertising the same way to your B2B customers as you would to your B2C ones.
As I briefly stated earlier, social media is still a viable strategy for B2B marketing.
But you won’t be using platforms such as Snapchat. Instead, you’ll probably prioritize marketing channels such as Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Here’s a comparison between B2C and B2B social media usage by platform:
Use promotional videos, photos, and other visual content to market to your B2B clients.
Just make sure you keep things professional at all times. Stay on brand. Build an email list.
When you form a new relationship with your customers, ask them whether it’s okay to use calling or texting as a method of communication with them.
B2C companies may have thousands of unique customers per year. But if your B2B brand has only a dozen or so customers, you can try to manage them through this type of personalized communication as opposed to traditional marketing tactics.
Putting out commercials on national television for everyone in the country to see may not be effective if you’re dealing with only 10 or 20 clients per year.
That’s a waste of your resources.
Always network with the intention of growing
Your B2B marketing strategy needs to make your company grow. Try to generate more leads and new customers. Get your existing customers to spend more money.
Networking is a great way to find new customers, especially in the B2B sector.
Take a look at this data of the top B2B marketing activities:
As you can see, attending events ranked high on this list.
Go to local, regional, and national events. Join industry networks to meet new people.
These networks host annual meetings and conferences that can be extremely beneficial to your company.
In addition to in-person networking at events, you can also network through digital platforms. As we just discussed, social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn need to be part of your B2B marketing strategy.
You need to take a different approach with your B2B marketing campaigns from the approach you’d take with your B2C campaigns.
Start by figuring out who has the buying power in the businesses you’re targeting.
Focus your efforts on customer satisfaction. Go the extra mile to please your customers, and use personalization to befriend them.
All of this will help you build long-term relationships so you can increase the chances of getting repeat purchases from the same clients.
Leverage your brand story to generate leads. Pay close attention to your pricing strategy.
Identify the best marketing channels to promote your content to prospective buyers.
And don’t forget: growing your B2B company requires your constant attention.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to create a profitable B2B marketing strategy.
How is your B2B brand generating new leads through promoting customer satisfaction?