When businesses sell their products or services to other businesses, this is commonly referred to as B2B. This is different from B2C or business to a customer when the customer is the general public. This means that B2B marketing is very different from B2C because you are often talking to an audience who understands your products or services – the educational element starts in a very different place. So what makes B2B special and what are the most key elements of it?
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is the marketing of businesses that sell to other businesses – but what does that really mean? Let’s use a cotton blouse as an example – your local clothing retailer has it on offer on their shelves and the general public can go in a purchase it. But how did it get there?
The chain of derived demand is a phrase used to highlight this process. It starts with the creation of the raw material, in this case, cotton. This might mean cotton farmers or a large scale agricultural business. They then send it to a company for spinning and weaving to create the cotton cloth. This goes to a clothing manufacturer or tailoring service who create the blouse. They use a distribution company to ship is from the maker to the seller. And finally, the clothing shop sells it to the public. If you offer marketing to any of the businesses along that process, you are dealing with B2B marketing.
What makes B2B special?
This means that advertising your service in a different way. Let’s say you offer distribution services for clothing manufacturers to get items to the clothing stores. You don’t advertise it in the way the clothing store markets the blouse to the public because there are different considerations.
1. More complex decision-making processes
For the company marketing the blouse, they are aiming for women of a certain age group, maybe a certain size or who favour a particular style. When you market with B2B considerations, there’s a more complex process.
You aren’t getting the attention of the one woman but instead, the department head, the company owners, the team or a number of other people. This is why many companies often work with a B2B marketing agency.
2. B2B buyers are more rational
People make impulse buys, but businesses rarely do. Things are more considered, weighed and a team often makes the choices. This means that marketing to them needs to be more rational. This can make it easier to market to them but also means you need to be very accurate and specific in your marketing.
3. Products are more complex
When you are marketing a new blouse, there’s a relatively straightforward approach. But when you market the processes of a company and the service this provides, there’s a lot going on. Working with experts (See: Award winning B2B marketing agency) is often the best approach to conquer all these varying factors and create marketing that is effective.
4. Less behavioural and needs-based segments
Often when marketing, we appeal to people’s needs, their pain points or harness their behaviour to market products – fear of missing out is a classic. This can be more complex with B2B where needs and behaviours are more restrained and have a different perspective. Needs-based segments might include price-focused, quality or brand focused, service focused, or partnership focused. This requires a different approach from B2C marketing to ensure success.
In a way, B2B customers are more demanding than B2C because a wrong decision would have a serious impact on their business. This means marketing needs to be clear and careful, well researched and appeal to the things that matter to businesses, making it a special and interesting field.