Business to Business Marketing or B2B Marketing as it is popularly known is very different than marketing to individual consumers.
It is a clear contrast with B2C marketing where the consumer or the buyer is often an individual and the purchase decision is faster.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B Marketing refers to all marketing efforts, tactics, and strategies directed at other businesses or organizations to create awareness of your business brand.
If your company sells products or services to other businesses or organizations and not direct consumers then you will have to use B2B marketing strategies.
In B2B marketing you will target the needs, interests, and challenges of individuals who are making purchases on behalf of, or for, their organization rather than for themselves. In this case, the organization is the customer and the individual is the point of contact.
As a B2B marketer, your target audience typically includes business executives, procurement officers, and other people who make purchasing decisions on behalf of their businesses or organizations.
Like everything else in the business world, B2B marketing has gone digital. In fact, according to Accenture’s recent report, more than 67 percent of B2B transactions have already started to begin online.
Digital disruption has come as a blessing for B2B marketing, but it’s not without challenges.
Businesses that have not shifted online are finding it even more challenging than ever before to do online B2B Marketing.
Even otherwise, effective online B2B marketing is difficult to get right for many businesses.
Between budget limits, growth demands, and channel decisions, businesses have a lot to juggle when developing their online B2B marketing strategy.
In this ultimate guide, I’ll break down everything you need to know to take your B2B marketing to the next level.
Understanding B2B Marketing will help you to generate more leads, improve lead quality and bring in new business.
Before you learn online B2B marketing it is pertinent to understand two very important aspects:
- Buyer Persona or Target Customer
- Buyer’s journey.
This is because, For a B2B marketing strategy to be successful, you must know and target the right audience. A strong B2B digital marketing strategy starts with defining your target audience, or buyer persona.
Secondly understanding the B2B buyer’s journey is one of the most important elements in marketing strategy. If you understand what your buyers are doing in the buying journey you will help them move from one stage of the B2B buyer’s journey to the next.
1. Identify Your Target Customer
The biggest determinant of effective online marketing is your target audience or buyer persona.
B2B marketing usually focuses on a small audience of groups, usually composed of one or more decision-makers.
You need to start with defining this target audience or group and create your buyer persona.
How to define the Target Audience or Buyer Persona?
To find the Target Audience you need to develop a Customer Avatar.
Two important aspects for developing a Customer Avatar are Demographics and Psycho-graphics information.
Learn their Demo-graphics information like:
- Education level
Demographics is defined as statistical data about the characteristics of a person.
Learn their Psycho-graphics information like:
- Personality characteristics
- Social class
- Spending Habits
- Principles & beliefs
- Activities & Interests
- Likes & Dislikes
Often buyers are guided by their attitudes and subjective perceptions when making purchase decisions, and psycho-graphics covers such aspects of the buying process.
With these details, narrow down the customers to one person.
Learn the art of communicating with that person better. It is now a one on one conversation with that person.
This demographic and psychographic information will be utilized by all your marketing activity thereafter, ensuring your content and digital material is absorbed by the right eyes and ears.
2. Understanding the Buyers Journey
A B2B buyer’s journey is the process of buying a new product or service by a business. It is the “path” that the buyer takes before making a purchase decision. A B2B buyer’s journey is unique in that, a B2B customer is often more than a single customer.
In B2B, you are selling to an entire team or group of people all of whom might have input in the purchase decision. Hence, the decision-making process is longer and more tedious.
B2B customers usually identify pain points, investigate, and gain approval from upper management before a purchase is made.
This results in a longer buying cycle and as a B2B customer is not prone to buying on impulse.
The average B2B buying cycle is 6-12 months.
Marketers, therefore, have to adjust their B2B marketing strategy.
There are 3 Core Stages of B2B Buyer’s Journey.
Stage 1: Awareness
In this stage, you pull all your potential customers into the funnel by creating awareness about your business brand, product, and solutions that your company offers. In this stage, you meet potential customers who are researching products and services or looking for options that could potentially solve their problems or meet their needs.
In the awareness stage of the B2B buyer’s journey, your potential customer acknowledges that there is a problem or challenge they face that must be solved. However, they may not know of the existence of your company. Your marketing strategy is to create awareness for your product or service.
Your potential customer researches to find a solution to their problem. 72% of B2B buyers will turn to Google or LinkedIn at the research stage.
Businesses are more aware of their problems and are therefore more specific in their search.
Companies that know their buyers’ persona present their information at this stage of the B2B buyer’s journey.
Though B2B customers want to know the value of your product or service, they are more interested in facts and stats, customer reviews, etc.
Your presentation and content should concentrate on their pain point.
The B2B awareness stage is a good time to build customer trust in your brand and products.
To create awareness, your online marketing strategy should include anything that enables you to reach new prospects on relevant platforms.
Here you have 2 choices
- Leverage paid promotions on LinkedIn & Google for quick results
- Grow organically on LinkedIn and Google.
I always recommend the organic option for better results but you may try paid promotion as well.
Why? Because PPC ads on Google will give you instant leads but the quality of leads may not be great. On the other hand, an effective google ranking can help you not only drive traffic to your website but also built brand credibility.
Blogging on relevant topics which your target audience spends time to read and stay updated is also a great idea to create awareness among an already established audience and prospective customers.
If your buyer is already a connection on LinkedIn it will add a lot of weight, recall factor, and trust with your profile.
Stage 2: Consideration stage
This is the second stage of the B2B buyer’s journey, and it’s chiefly dedicated to considerations and comparison between products and services. The B2B buyer’s journey moves from awareness to Consideration. This stage can be called the investigation stage.
During the consideration stage, the potential customer has narrowed down their scope to one or two vendors. 70% of buyers return to your website at least 2-3 times during this stage of their research. The nature of the content presented on your website strongly affects whether the customer will pursue your company or not.
Here your B2B customers often require greater nurturing time.
“B2B marketers say they see at least a 30% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing.”
At a stage in their research, your potential customer will make a comparison between your company and other competitors. It is at this stage of the B2B buyer’s journey they reach out to sales reps for further clarification, product demos, and personalized services.
Your customer carries out further research and eliminates vendors that do not meet their requirements. At this stage of the B2B buyer’s journey, you’ll need several conversations to “move” them to the next stage in the B2B buyer’s journey.
Stage 3: Decision Stage
In this final B2B buyer’s journey stage, the potential buyer decides to purchase the product or service.
At this stage, the lead has completed all research process, gained the support of upper management and are ready to select a vendor and make a purchase.
Lead nurturing has finally translated to lead conversion.
As I mentioned earlier, 67 % of the B2B buyer’s journey is now done digitally.
So how do you carry out your B2B digital Marketing?
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful social media tools to carry out your B2B Marketing.