How is B2B different to B2C ?
For all kinds of reasons, B2B marketing is different to B2C and therefore the B2B marketing agency takes a different approach to the market place. The key differences are:
- Every B2B market is a niche with relatively few customers. You must know the industry jargon and understand your customers’ businesses
- Business is buying a relationship as well as a product – any resulting contract may last years, so the sales lifecycle is also longer
- B2B customers want to be educated and consume masses of information before they even contact your business – so your business and marketing information must be out there and easy to find.
- The procurement process (not the purchasing) is set up to remove risk, to cover all angles and to prevent corruption
- Consensual decision making and risk aversion now requires you to convince almost every individual customer in a company that your business / product is the right choice
This means that the B2B marketing agency will also work rather differently with their client. Building longer term relationships in smaller markets means that some techniques become less important and some just don’t work very well. For example, while Facebook users love pictures of cats and captions contests, has anyone tried sending pictures of kittens around LinkedIn ?
Especially for a small organisation, it can be hard to gain entry to a large organisation. Networking can work but takes time; making use of all contacts is effective and any networking groups with customers in them are worth getting involved with. However, procurement behaviour has changed – large buying organisations do their research online and have practically made up their corporate mind before they go public with their procurement intentions. It is then very difficult for a small organisation to shape the procurement or coach their customers. Increasingly therefore, B2B marketing is going online. There is still a place for trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences in B2B marketing as they can help you find you customers in one place and allow them to see you amongst them. Attending a conference as a speaker gives you and your organisation Authority. Some B2B Marketing Agencies can help you to find the right events to attend.
Given that the sales lifecycle is longer, your website need not be as carefully optimised as a B2C site and Paid Traffic is unlikely to give a return on investment. SEO is worthwhile as buyers in the early stages will look at the high ranking websites, but if your product is new technology, then there may be very few searches for your keyword. For these reasons, a strategy combining social media with content marketing is currently the approach which is most likely to generate leads at the right stage in the sales cycle.
As well as using different social media, B2B marketers can and should address those with a longer attention span, by using:
- Content Marketing
- Video Marketing
With content marketing you can start to influence how your customer thinks about the problem, positioning your business to win the contract. But your business needs to have a content marketing strategy and a content marketing plan which will include:
- Your business (not content) objectives
- Your brand positioning
- A description of your target audience
- A summary of the story you are telling
- How your content marketing will work with channels to market
- The process for creating and publishing content
- The content media
- Measuring success
Like some online marketing agencies, your B2B marketing agency will be able to help you with a content marketing strategy and plan and may be able to draft some content for you. It is usually better to create content internally as it then rings more truly.
B2B marketing videos need to be produced to a high standard – a small business may not have the skills and equipment to do this. Some B2B marketing agencies can provide this capability, while others will use video production partners. Video is easier to promote because fewer videos are published than page; it is also likely to be more convincing to your customers who want to find the Authority in the marketplace and to build a relationship of Trust with that company. Given that most communication is non-verbal, video shows your faces and voices and so customers can engage more easily than with White Papers or Powerpoint PDF files. A B2B marketing agency will help you plan your business’s video campaign and produce or project manage the production of videos and their promotion.
AS well putting innovative ideas into the mix, you need to build relationships with customers; Without meeting in person, there are several ways you can do this.
- Webinar Marketing
- Email marketing
Webinars are a great weapon in the B2B armoury. They are the next best thing to a face-to-face meeting, but easier to arrange – after all no-one has to travel. Nevertheless, customers have to make a space in their schedule and sign up. They see you as An Authority, before you even start and after an hour or so they should understand your company and its products and services. Perhaps they are also beginning to think of you as The Authority and worthy of Trust by the end of the Webinar. However webinars aren’t quite the same as an offline seminar. (It is less embarrassing to turn off your webinar than walk out of a meeting). And the follow-up needs to carefully integrated with your email marketing. Your B2B marketing agency will develop a Webinar Strategy and Plan and can also help you with technology platform choices, promoting your webinars and facilitating the webinars themselves
As available data capacity increases / becomes cheaper, more people are subscribing to Podcasts which they listen to whilst in traffic or waiting for a train. Relatively few businesses publish a podcast so it is still relatively easy to get high visibility.
Email marketing is best used in highly segmented way – using different lists for people in various roles, sizes of organisation and stages of engagement. Although a B2B marketing agency can help with email marketing and segmentation, this is one task that a customer needs to take a hands on interest in.
Like their B2C marketing agency cousins, B2B Marketing Agencies can take on many of your lead generation tasks. Small businesses don’t often have a huge budget for marketing, but spending money on this specialist area is worthwhile if carefully controlled and measured. Your agency must bring you leads that will eventually buy from you and not create lots of interest in the wrong place.