The marketing industry often perceives B2B (business to business) marketing as more complex than B2C (business to consumer) marketing due to differences in their target audiences and communication approaches. B2C marketing emphasises immediate solutions and entertainment-driven content, while B2B marketing prioritises cultivating relationships and demonstrating a product’s ROI (return on investment) for business clients.
To steer your B2B marketing strategy in the right direction, it’s crucial to recognise these unique elements that distinguish it from other marketing approaches.
- B2B customers are seeking efficiency, expertise and value for their investment all the time. Every purchase is driven by logic and financial incentive, unlike B2C customers, who, most of the time, are seeking great deals and entertainment. With B2B, it is always about how the customer, in this case, a business, can profit from the purchase.
- B2B customers are harder to impress because they are, more often than not, professionals whose companies will benefit from their decisions and expert opinions. So, they tend to be more discerning. They always consider the business impact before they make a purchase.
- B2B buying cycle is often much longer and requires more lead nurturing and close attention to the user. This is because B2B customers invest in products and services for their long-term goals. Naturally, this takes time because every decision has to go through a complex process.
B2B companies are among the fastest growing companies in the world. This year they are more influential than ever, so expect companies in this category to ramp up their marketing efforts to get ahead of the race. We have compiled some tips and best practices that can assist in crafting a successful marketing plan.
- Focus on a promise mindset rather than a product mindset. This game-changing insight proposed by LinkedIn’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Mel Selcher suggests that brands and marketers doing B2B marketing should shift their focus from highlighting product features to putting emphasis on the product promises instead when doing their ads. As Selcher said, “It’s the promise, not the product, that wins over customers.”
Unlike in B2C, where product features should be front and centre, in B2B marketing, this strategy does not work well for long-term brand building anymore. B2B customers are said to be looking less at product information and usually go past product messages or, worse, quickly forget them. To capture their attention, it’s best not to focus solely on features. Instead, offer them a promise to build memory. Remember that B2B customers are continually evaluating their providers and suppliers (regardless of economic uncertainty), so it would be a smart marketing strategy to always be in front of your target audience. Make sure, however, not to make promises you can’t keep, as broken promises can hurt your business.
- Determine your customers’ pain points and what they immediately need. Customers, in general, have ever-evolving needs. B2B customers are no exception. Understanding these needs is essential to determining which promises your product fulfils as you shift your strategy. Start by identifying your company’s Category Entry Points (CEPs).
CEPs are the cues that category buyers use to access their memories when faced with a buying situation and can include any internal cues (e.g., motives, emotions) and external cues (e.g., location, time of day) that affect any buying situation. While each category buyer and each buying situation is unique, there are common recurring themes that we call CEPs.
Your brand’s key CEPs should be the centre of your messaging strategy. Your messages should focus on the customer instead of your brand and products. These situational messages are the key driver of situational awareness, which is necessary for building memory. Your promise becomes valuable when you understand what your target audience needs to do, when they need to do it, why it will help them, and who needs to be on board to move forward.
- Make the promise memorable through storytelling. Do better storytelling than your competitors. Great stories can help your brand be top of mind so your buyers consider you over your competitors when they are ready to make a purchase. Include your distinctive brand assets and brand characters into your storytelling to make your promises memorable. One good way to do this is to create an ad that shows a customer’s perspective, sharing the value of your product and what it does that makes it so effective.
- Don’t forget to be creative and harness emotion in your ads. Just like their B2C counterparts, B2B customers like memorable content that drives emotional impact. There is no excuse for dry and uninspiring ads anymore. Think of creative ways to support your client’s unique purchasing journey and interests. Delivering creative that resonates emotionally with your targets is said to boost the results of your campaign. In fact, creativity is the biggest contributor to sales in an ad campaign (47%), according to research, with great creative driving 10-20X more sales. Make real human connections with your target market – connect people to people and let others tell their stories about your brand.
Pausing your marketing and brand-building efforts in challenging times will likely hurt your business in the long run. Instead, the most effective approach is to maintain a consistent level of investment in marketing, especially when competitors may be reducing their own investments.
To get the most impact out of your budget, ensure your marketing is in capable hands. Look for a marketing agency with years of experience in B2B marketing. They are the ones who can help you implement the most effective B2B marketing strategy that will make you stand out from the rest.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. Our team is ready to help you take your B2B marketing efforts to the next level.