Almost all supply chains involve Business-to-Business transactions even if the final step in the chain is the Consumer. The nature of the transactions vary widely – consignments of stationery perhaps at one end and joint development agreements in aerospace consortium at the other. In most cases, SMEs will be somewhere in between and the transactions will lie within a more limited range of complexity and frequency.
- A more complex decision making unit – many people and a process are involved
- More rational – you can’t buy something you “just fancy” with other people’s money
- Products are more complex – they have to meet wider needs
- Fewer customers – perhaps tens who buy regularly instead of thousands who buy occasionally
- Fewer segments – these fewer customers will have similar buying behaviour
- Personal Relationships between members of organisations – salespeople will spend more time with high value / regular buyers
- Longer Term buyers – Business customers tend to choose a supplier and work with them until things work well
- Innovation is slower – innovation goes with risk and so it is more carefully controlled
- Packaging is less important – the guys at ‘Goods In’ remove it
- Increasingly, most purchase research is done online before the need to purchase is public; RFIs and RFPs are about gathering information to confirm a decision that is practically made already.
B2B buyers are more demanding and more rigorous in their approach. They are spending someone else’s money and they have people above them who are checking that they doing the right things in the right ways. Risk is to be eliminated by the purchasing choice. B2B buyers usually have the expertise to recognise what they want when they see it and expect you to adapt your product to their needs if they want you to.
What does this mean for the B2B marketer?
You have to meet all the needs of all customers, whether they are senior executives, users, implementers, purchasers, health and safety or anyone else. These people will need (a variety of) information at each stage of the buying process – a process which is designed to screen out risky products and risky suppliers. Your online presence must be universal and the content you publish must satisfy them that your solution exceeds their needs and expectations Wherever your client looks for information on his problem he finds your solution
You need content of all types, in all formats (text, image, audio and video) designed for use a t every stage of the buying cycle and then they must be shared on as many sharing platforms as you can find. The content may be
- Executive Briefings
- Use Cases
- Buying Guides
- White Papers
- Interviews with key customers
- Technical Briefings
- ROI Calculators or Benefits Metrics
If your product is an inherent part of your customer’s product and thus the corporate income stream, you can expect more attention from executives and users than if you’re selling paper clips. Your content should reflect their different perspective – quality and availability rather than price!
How do I reach my audience ?
Share your content, but try to persuade your audience to engage with you in the process, by following you on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter, by joining your email list or by attending your webinar. However you do it, grow the trust gradually and try to turn it into a one-one conversation initially online, but eventually in person. Increasingly, as large organisations use online research before going public, SMEs need the help of an online marketing consultant
Producing content on this scale is a large undertaking and the syndication must be targeted carefully. A degree of automation is possible and it helps to engage in the online conversation for a particular niche. This builds your Google Authority and by hanging around with recognised experts online, the reflected glory becomes yours !
How does the B2B Marketing Consultant help ?
A B2B marketing consultant will be familiar with marketing to large organisations, probably more familiar than the SME’s ovner or staff Having seen many different organisations, he will havea wider view of what “success looks like” and will be up to date with the way buying decisions are being made. B2B needs a different set of techniques to B2C and The B2B marketing consultant can help you to choose those most suitable for your customers and your business. BRB marketing means:
- influencing customers over a long period, perhaps while you are unaware that they are researching a purchase
- demonstrating expertise by producing high quality content consistently
- building Authority in your market (without giving away your intellectual property
- building relationships of Trust with customers at all levels.
A B2B marketing consultant can also help you to create a lead generation stratey and plan, build your lead generation system and by providing an external point of view on the quality of your content.
For some help with B2B marketing, please get in touch; SMEsOnline has much experience in promoting small high tech companies.