Whenever we talk about marketing and promotion there’s typically a divide between businesses that market directly to consumers (B2C) and businesses that market to other businesses organisations for commercial gain and partnerships (B2B).
Whilst B2C marketing has really embraced digital technologies, B2B marketing, on the other hand, has been relatively slower to adapt, preferring to continue investing in more traditional channels such as in-person events and other traditional techniques.
But with the buyer experience evolving towards increased online interaction and personalisation throughout the buying process, it is more important than ever that B2B marketers rethink their strategies.
Perhaps the biggest reason that B2B marketers find it so difficult is the emphasis on ‘differences’ in best-practices between B2B and B2C marketing — with B2C practices supposedly lending themselves more favourably online — when in actual fact, the real focus should be on the similarities.
There are going to be differences, sure, mainly in terms of measurability and motive, but the principles of promoting/marketing/selling are basically the same for both instances. Consumers and company buyers may have different reasons for wanting to hear from you, but that doesn’t mean the ways in which you go about it need to be worlds apart. In fact, B2B marketing is a lot closer to B2C marketing than you might think.
The key is understanding what those differences are, where any limitations may lie, and finding suitable ways of adapting in order to leverage the most effective outcome in your B2B marketing campaign.
In fact, a report by Forrester Consultant showed that 46% of B2B sales this year will be a result of marketing across online channels such as websites, social media and email. If you haven’t already thought about stepping up your B2B marketing efforts, now is definitely the time to do so.
First impressions hinge on strong and effective content. But what kinds of content should B2B organisations be putting out there? Whilst consumer-based marketing focuses more on the emotional appeal of the product/service, you can still appeal to B2B buyers from an emotive standpoint but in a more professional way.
The motive for B2B buyers is ostensibly from a more pragmatic standpoint, but your marketing efforts will fall on deaf ears if your content does not resonate with your audience while emphasising the unique and interesting parts of your brand. Personality and engagement are as equally important in B2B marketing as in B2C marketing, make no mistake about it.
Like B2C marketing, the above B2B campaign uses concepts and interesting ideas as a means of promotion rather than just serving up raw facts and information, appealing to buyers on a level beyond the pragmatic.
Of course, B2B buyers are still looking for those tangible ‘pragmatics’ in order to find a reason to buy from you. Knowing what they are and using them to underpin your campaign is integral to success.
A study by LinkedIn discovered that B2B buyers want marketing organisations to show that they understand the needs of the business as much as they are experts in their industry; this means providing insightful, educational content that readers can really use.
The same study also revealed that buyers want marketing organisations to show off their products and services, as you would expect, in a way that demonstrates how customers can benefit; this means more than a simple advert, you need to provide interesting case studies detailing the project, the client and the successful outcome. The key word here is ‘interesting’. Facts and figures are great for bolstering your pitch, but a strong case study is one that instantly captures the attention of your audience in a way that is relevant, relatable and personable. This is, after all, the very essence of marketing and promotion.