The Basics of B2B Marketing

Photo courtesy of LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

How Business-to-Business Marketing is Different from Direct-to-Consumer

It seems like a simple transaction when we buy a new iPhone; you give the Apple Store your credit card and they give you a shiny new toy. But, what you’re not seeing is the many B2B transactions that have to happen in order for you to make that purchase.

Even if you don’t know what the abbreviation B2B stands for, you’ve likely heard the term used in passing before. B2B stands for “business-to-business,” or when a company sells their product or services directly to another company. In the case of the iPhone, B2B transactions include the silicon industry selling materials, hiring factories to assemble the products, shipping logistics to deliver to stores from the factories, and more. This is instead of B2C, which stands for business-to-consumer (or customer). We interact with B2C services practically every day of our lives, from buying that new iPhone, to buying new apps for our new iPhone, to even going to the grocery store around the corner.

While the general principle of B2B marketing is the same as B2C (create need in your target audience), the market forces and buying patterns are vastly different. If your business model will include any B2B interaction, it is important to keep in mind that marketing to another company is not the same as marketing directly to a customer.

Photo courtesy of Austin Distel.

Identify Your B2B Buyer Persona

Again, we’ll start where B2B and B2C marketing plans are similar: it’s important to fully understand the buyer persona. The buyer personas immediately diverge, because B2B clients are buying for an organization, not an individual. Anyone, male/female, young/old, etc. needs to buy a pair of socks at some point, but does a business need to buy 10,000 pairs of socks? When the numbers become high, more research is necessary on the part of the buyer.

On top of that, buyers may not even be aware that their business needs 10,000 pairs of socks—even though they do. “Effective content in the awareness phase educates the buyer on their pain points,” says Jonathan Franchell, CEO and Founder of Ironpaper, “A frequent mistake B2B organizations make is educating the buyer on their own company, product, or service. The buyer isn’t ready for that; they are just beginning to understand their problem.”

Understanding both the company and the industry you are marketing to can help craft accurate buyer personas, ensuring you are spending precious ad dollars and time as effectively as possible.

Use Social Media to Maximize SEO

Once more, let’s start with some similarities: social media marketing. In fact, 84% of C-level and VP buyers use social media to influence their buying decisions. B2B buyers can be just as susceptible to social media marketing as anyone else (they’re people, too, after all!), but, keeping in mind your buyer persona, you need to know where to reach them while they’re attentive. While it is possible to convert a sale from Instagram or Facebook, for most B2B buyers, the place they go is LinkedIn.

Photo courtesy of Adeolu Eletu.

Cute posts of Selfie Walls and fun facts about corgis don’t have the same traction on LinkedIn; instead, it’s all about blogs. Posting news stories or writing thought leadership blogs is a terrific way to maximize your SEO (search engine optimization) and bring more eyeballs to your website or services. To pull back the curtain, ever so briefly, this blog you’re reading right now is actually an example of SEO optimization! If we did a good job writing, you won’t have noticed yet, but go back through and count how many times “B2B” has appeared in titles, subheadings and the text of this blog. Every time we use key phrases (each blog will have different ones depending on what you’re marketing), how the blog will rank on search engines like Google or Bing improves. Pretty sneaky, huh?

Speaking of Google, while social media is wonderful because it is free, taking advantage of paid platforms like Google Ads (formerly Adwords) is advisable because it guarantees you will be at the top of search pages. Even your posts and website that might not have perfect SEO will be getting views.

Foster Personal Connections

Ironically, despite B2B buyers making purchases for their company, and not themselves as individuals, they can require even more of a personal connection than a B2C customer. This is especially true when it comes to high volume purchases on the buyers’ end and it is important to maintain relationships to continue sales on the marketing side.

Photo courtesy of Cytonn.

Now that we’ve moved into a digital age and a world filled with Zoom conference rooms, it can be difficult to keep up with face-to-face interactions. Some companies are mixing the old with the new and having virtual lunches—people can work remotely and the vendor will send a Zoom link and a Postmates order to their business partner’s home or office instead of meeting at a traditional restaurant.

Cold calling is mostly a thing of the past and 95% of people won’t even respond to a cold email. However, this means that 5% of people are responding to cold emails. You should be selective with B2B cold email blasts, but don’t give up on the process completely, because it will translate into sales.

Finally, reviews, testimonials, and case studies are more important than ever. B2B buyers are looking for partners who have proven track records they can trust. If a buyer is perusing your website and sees case studies from companies they also work with, an instant level of comfort has been achieved. A positive review won’t guarantee an immediate sale, but it can translate to a face-to-face meeting pre-filled with goodwill for your goods and services.

Upgrade Your B2B Marketing Plan

Meerkat Media Group has a vast range of experience with everything from daily content creation to complete brand marketing. If you’re looking for guidance on how to effectively convey your message to other businesses, we’re here to help. Contact us, today, to learn how to take your take your digital marketing to the next level!