The first rule to learn about B2B marketing is that every buyer and every seller is also a consumer. Before we were marketing to businesses, we were a consumer first. We each have our personal lives as well as our professional lives and part of life is buying goods and services, and building and keeping relationships.
Keeping that in mind for the marketer who has only promoted and sold directly to other businesses can be difficult at times. There are certain key tactics and strategies that consumer marketers use which B2B marketers should take into consideration.
B2B marketers can fail by not keeping in mind that business prospects and customers are first and foremost, consumers.
Emotional Engagement – Too many B2B marketers focus too much on the features of their product or service and not enough about the emotional benefits. B2B marketers will include all the deliverables in a proposal but nothing tailored to each prospective buyer about the benefits.
People buy for emotional reasons. B2C marketers get that! People buy Porsches more because they feel more confident or accomplished. They don’t buy Porsches because of the features listed on the price tag. In fact, when you sell on features, buyers are typically more price sensitive. B2B marketers need to remind people about key benefits related to most B2B services such as stress reduction, clarity, focus, time savings, more time with family, etc.
Traditional Advertising can still work – For the right B2B marketers, direct mail, radio print and TV ads can still be viable lead generation and branding tools. Because increasing marketing dollars are going to the web, less and less money is going toward traditional marketing tactics. In the past, small businesses would receive hundreds of direct mail pieces a month.
Now there is very little in the mailbox which can allow a B2B marketer to stand out. It has all changed… the clutter is not in the mailbox anymore but online – whether it be in your email inbox, on a search engine or when reading about business on a news website. There are numerous success stories of commercial real estate firms that have advertised on TV and generated many leads. Go where your competition is not. B2C has not given up on traditional advertising channels, why should you?
Marketing can’t be all about lead generation; branding still matters. Not everything a B2B firm does with its marketing needs to lead directly to a potential sale. Branding tactics like event sponsorships, outdoor advertising, display ads which help build brand awareness can help in long-term lead generation and building relationships.
When a prospective client finally has a need, your firm is top of mind. Branding also helps in the lead nurturing process. Once you have a potential opportunity, the more visible your brand is, typically the more peace of mind a client will have in committing to your firm.
On the flipside, there are several elements that a business marketing professional must keep in mind when reviewing and purchasing in their business skin that do not apply to their role as a consumer:
Typically a more sophisticated buyer – higher education, larger sphere of influence (other people influencing the decision), wants to look good among his peers, wants a success story for his/her resume and may prompt a promotion
Longer and more complex sales cycle
More people involved in the buying decision rather than a husband and wife making a decision on a family car. There can be a committee of 10 people who have different requirements and have the final say when making a decision.
From initial inquiry to closed sale can be months to years rather than days or hours
With B2B selling there is typically less concern about price and more concern on return on investment, meeting an objective, etc. B2B decision makers will pay more for peace of mind that the job will be done right the first time and the product or service purchased serves their purposes now and in the future.
More targeted approach. With B2C marketing, a high-end watch can still be marketed to 10% of the US adult population. With B2B, the decision maker can be narrowed down to industry, company size, geographic area, functional area, etc. There may only be 10 potential buyers in your entire market! It can be good and bad – less potential buyers BUT with B2C, the target market is smaller, a business can make more use and be more efficient with their marketing dollars.
B2C is more transactional marketing, whereas B2B is more relationship marketing; B2C marketing is focused on a one-off sale. Meanwhile B2B marketing is about building and maintaining a long-term relationship where there can multiple purchases over many years. That means that your brand promises had better deliver.,
All in all, a B2B marketer will succeed if he/she remembers that his prospects and customers are indeed consumers first, and there are triggers and strategies that can be utilized and leveraged from the B2C “handbook” when marketing, selling and building relationships with business professionals.