Business to business or B2B marketing strategies can have the feeling that they’re going to take an incredible amount of planning, effort and organization, especially if you have an unusual product or service to offer. That is not always the case, in fact, there are multiple B2B marketing strategies that you can understand and then implement today.
What is B2B marketing?
First of all, it’s worth defining exactly what we mean by B2B marketing. Marketing to businesses is very different to marketing directly to customers, which is typically the method of marketing that many people know of.
B2B marketing is when one business markets its products or services to another business. Essentially, your business needs the product or service that another business is offering. If a business purchases it, the product or service will usually lead to an improvement in their business operations.
Here are some examples to paint the picture:
- A CRM company will market their services to growing eCommerce businesses.
- A web design company will market their services to other businesses in need of websites.
- A professional tunnelling company will market their services or products to an underground transportation company.
B2B marketing takes place when a business requires parts that fall outside of their own production. This might include manufacturers of shoes who gather the materials before assembling their product because they’re not tanning cows for leather or creating the pigment for the dye in the shoes. It could be the construction of planes. You don’t hear about Rolls Royce planes flying but they supply a vast number of the engines to the likes of Airbus and Boeing.
The real question is: How do you become that supplier? How do you become the preferred partner and, essentially, earn an ongoing contract and everything that comes with it? The B2B marketing journey begins with market research, finding the right opportunities and then tailoring your message accordingly.
The important thing to remember throughout the process is that the effort is really worth it. Lifetime Value (LTV) is often substantially larger with B2B customers than it would be with B2C. Customers often only need to purchase a product once, whereas a business (that needs your service or product in order to create theirs) will use your services time and time again if they’re happy with what they receive.
In fact, in the Google published Bain Report, it was found that 80% of marketing businesses in the US preferred to use a single vendor when it came to integrating their marketing and advertising tech. Once businesses find a solution that they’re happy with, they tend to stick with it.
What marketing channels are best for B2B companies?
There are three core acquisition channels that those embarking on a B2B marketing strategy will want to consider. Digital marketing, traditional marketing and personal selling. The last one might not sound like marketing, but bear with us here.
Picking the right channels for your company is essential to growth.
Digital Marketing in B2B
Digital marketing campaigns can pay dividends, but only when crafted with appropriate targeting, effective conversion monitoring and KPIs tracked. Campaigns that focus on digital methods such as content marketing, SEO and paid digital advertising have huge benefits in their ability to be incredibly targeted. This means there are no lost efforts on those uninterested in your proposition. It also means there are plenty of opportunities to spread the word about your business to those who haven’t yet heard of you.
The process of digital marketing enables you to target businesses at all levels of your marketing funnel, from brand awareness and initial touch points, right down to encouraging business partnerships to refer your products or services on to other businesses.
Traditional Marketing in B2B
From television ads to newspapers, fliers to radio, traditional marketing works by getting your name out there indiscriminately to everyone who’ll listen. Imagine your business as a fisherman: The more nets you cast out, the more likely you are to catch a fish. The only issue is that you can’t see the fish as they’re underwater. A remedy to this is that you might work out where your desired fish live or hang out, then you’ll focus on throwing your nets there.
Following the advent of digital strategies, traditional B2B marketing is less frequently successful. It does, however, promote your brand in a way that people automatically understand and relate prowess to.
Personal Selling in B2B
Personal selling, which even though has the word selling in the title is a form of marketing, is all about building relationships. It’s getting your foot in the door, shaking hands and getting to know the decision makers in companies that you want to target. This isn’t easy to do at scale. After all, you only have the capacity that you or your team can manage, but it does come with the highest conversion rate of these three methods.
5 B2B Marketing Strategies to Drive Leads and Conversions
Marketing is all about driving leads to your business and ensuring that those leads have the highest possibility of conversion. What follows is our list of the 5 B2B marketing strategies that we know drive the highest rates of leads and conversions.
Identify and Address Customer Pain Points
Giving value to those who interact with you should be high on the agenda of any marketing strategy. One of the best ways to give value to your potential customers (in this case other businesses) is to identify and then address their pain points. In order to do this, you need to find out what they need, why they need it, and how your product or service can solve that for them, and, most importantly, solve it better than your competitors.
The best way of achieving this is to spend time talking with your potential customers, this could be in the form of questionnaires or preliminary research interviews. At this stage, you’re simply asking questions to qualify if your product or service is a good fit for them, this is not a hard sell opportunity. Following the gathering of your new found knowledge, it’s important to leverage this information to build on relationship marketing.
From a digital perspective, you would consider looking into keyword volume and search queries to see what people are searching for and how often they’re searching for it. This means that when developing your organic digital marketing strategy you’ll be able to leverage this traffic to find new potential business customers.
Leverage Social Proof
Coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini, social proof is a form of persuasion marketing which can be summed up as, “Humans like to be part of something larger.” It plays on our natural desire to be part of larger communities, and follow the herd to some extent. If friends are raving about a local restaurant continuously or a film gets great reviews and is watched by thousands, then people are more likely to go there or watch it too.
5 Ways to Use Social Proof in B2B Marketing
Customer Testimonials - Just by having your testimonials on your website you’re more likely to get more customers. 92% of customers read online reviews before buying, while 72% say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business . The aim of reviews is to prove that your product has been popular with other people who had the same sort of pain points as the potential customer. If people are on the fence between two companies, often it is reviews that can tip them in your favor.
Case Studies - This is your opportunity to show your customers exactly what you do and how you’ve helped businesses just like them in the past. These are often set on the website and, more often than not, are write ups of similar relationships. There are numerous ways to take case studies to the next level, video being one of the best ones.
- Brand Ambassadors - Brand ambassadors champion your cause. They are the face of your brand users and often carry a lot of social currency . They could be celebrities, influencers or even users who are genuinely passionate about your brand. They will work with you, often on a paid or benefit basis, and work to promote your brand using social proof as their core medium.
- Showcase integrations - This is especially important if your business is in the SaaS sector. If your product or service is easily integrated into apps that are already being used by your potential customers, then shout about it. Make it obvious that this integration will be seamless. Simply adding logos of integrations to your site is a good starting point, but showing them how (by video perhaps) will prove it works. This works further if you can get current integrations to show how you work with them on their own site. GrowSurf recently partnered with Stripe, a company that does an excellent job of showcasing their integrations.
Mention Existing Customers or Clients - This is where name dropping comes into its own. If you’ve already partnered with a high profile client, or have a client that your targeted businesses might know of, show their name, face and brand on your site. This level of social proof shows that if it works for that client then it stands to reason that it will work for them too.
Social proof is a concept that can work wonders for your business, especially when marketing to other businesses. Understanding how to use social proof to drive conversions will take you far in business.
Referrals have a strong history in B2B marketing, typically because of the traditional networking that goes along with B2B. Take, for instance, the massive B2B network built entirely on referrals, the BNI: Business Network International. Their whole business model is built on getting business referrals between businesses.
The best tactic is to build referral marketing into your B2B strategy from the start. This means that when a business agrees to be part of the referral program they are likely to introduce further business quickly, and those businesses are far more likely to agree to be part of the referral program themselves.
There are various options for referral programs, and they don’t have to be difficult to set up and manage thanks to the success of third party referral programs such as GrowSurf. Referral programs are incredibly powerful when it comes to promoting growth and not just in the form of revenue. There are myriad reasons to launch a referral program.
B2B SEO, or rather Search Engine Optimization for business to business marketing (to use its less catchy title), is incredibly useful when it comes to organic acquisition. SEO is the art and science of appearing in organic search results for certain words and phrases. It works best when prospective clients are conducting their own research, it is at this point that you need your business to be in the limelight and appearing, regularly, within their searches. Importantly, you also want to appear useful and valuable.
The most useful tool in your arsenal here is to have a strategy of B2B content marketing. Your website, its blog and the content that you put out through them (and social channels) will massively help your SEO standings and organic traffic. That’s with the caveat that you have appropriately done your research on what people are searching for.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is useful within the B2B marketing sector, and with dedicated platforms such as LinkedIn, there are various ways to approach it. You may not be active on social media, but you will certainly be expected to have a presence. It is, after all, now a legitimising factor in the same way that having a functional and useful website is too.
If you’re offering a creative product or service, the level of uniqueness that people have come to expect will be higher. If the business is offering marketing services, consider social media channels a method of showing off.
Launching into B2B marketing strategies doesn’t have to be an ordeal, rather by selecting the appropriate channel chances are you can implement a form of it today.
- Always have the customer in mind, understand their pain points then address them.
- Don’t underestimate the power of social proof, people will want what others have.
- Referral marketing works. Build it in from the start of your campaigns if possible.
- B2B SEO allows you to reach further and further organically.
- Social media is a legitimiser and opportunity to show your work in action.