Business to Business Marketing
The term business to business marketing describes a public relations strategy designed to promote transactions between two different businesses. Examples might include interactions between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, a wholesaler and a distributor, and a distributor and a retailer. The tools used for business to business marketing differ from the strategies you might use for business to customer interactions. Here are 10 reasons why.
1. Business to Business Buyers are Smart
This is not to imply that the average consumer is stupid, but making highly informed decisions is extremely important in business to business interactions. For example, an infomercial about a piece of exercise equipment that supposedly burns away belly fat might fool a gullible consumer, but do not even think of trying the same tactics on the equipment buyer for a major sports medicine center.
2. Business to Business Buyers Have A More Complex Decision-Making Team
In most households, the immediate family members make the most complex purchasing decisions, while less crucial items, such as clothing, snack food and recreation, usually involve an individual family member. The decision making unit in a business to business operation usually consists of a complex team. Although a junior member of the purchasing team might take responsibility for inconsequential products, such as paper clips, larger purchases require debate and deliberation. Conflict often ensues, as the buyer looks for the best deal, the production manager demands high throughput, and the health and safety experts want to mitigate any risk factor. The business to business marketing expert needs to address all of these concerns.
3. Emotional Marketing Methods Do Not Work on Business to Business Buyers
Marketers who target consumers can appeal to their fears, aspirations and insecurities. This type of marketing will not work with your business to business clients. Their companies train them to make rational buying decisions, and their job security and professional reputation depends on it. Marketers should lose the flowery language, and take a “just the facts” approach, complete with statistics and case studies.
4. Content Still Rules
The results of a survey titled “2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends, “conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, indicates that 93 percent of business to business marketing experts use content writing as part of their strategy.
5. The Most Effective Content Marketers
Only 42 percent of business to business content marketers stated that their strategies were effective. The most successful had a documented content strategy, a specified person who oversees content production, used 15 different marketing tactics, had seven social media pages and spent 39 percent of their business to business marketing budget on content.
6. Experts vs. Employees
Should you hire Jack from accounting or an expert skier and writer to produce content about your company´s latest line of powder skis. This was the argument presented in a highly informative document titled “Clash of the Content Marketers,” produced by Sales.Force.com. The first thing to consider is whether or not Jack from accounting knows how to write engaging content. There´s a joke that goes around Boston, when someone toting a cart filled with 20 items pulls up on the eight items line:
Either you go to Harvard and you can´t count, or MIT and you cant´t read.
In other words, even the most intelligent person might not have the best content writing skills for business to business writing. Furthermore, a lack of social media savvy adds to the problem. On the other hand, a top writer for Ski Magazine will take a big bite out of your marketing budget. Either strike a balance, and hire a knowledgeable writer whose rates won´t break the piggy bank, or find a social media smart employee who majored in English, but got sidetracked.
7. Infotainment is the Next Big Thing
Business to business marketing does not have to be boring. Infotainment, in the form of video, podcasts, diagrams, infographics and podcasts can add life to your strategies.
8. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Visa television ads often poke fun at American Express. A typical ad features a popular destination, and includes a message that your AMEX card is not accepted here. American Express, in the meantime, has a variety of products for businesses. In an effort to keep their business clients and attract new ones, they created the Open Forum, a website that offers advice to small business owners, and features an open dialogue between its members. Joining is free, and membership is not limited to card holders. Consider a similar strategy for your business.
9. Target Your Social Media Strategy
Once again, the social media strategy for a business to business marketer differs from the plans suitable for business to customer marketing. Business oriented sites like LinkedIn are your best bet. Consider joining industry-focused groups, where distributors are most likely to hang out.
For every marketing plan you create, evaluate its success at triggering requests for proposals, requests for quotes, and actual sales.