All About B2B Marketing: From One Company to Another

Written by
Brandon Copple
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6
min read

B2B marketing simply means business-to-business, as opposed to B2C marketing, which is business-to-consumer, or B2D, which is business-to-dentist. 

There are real differences between B2B and B2C marketing, but at their core, both are about trying to convince humans to buy something. This is a crucial point for B2B marketers: marketing to “businesses” isn’t a real thing. The humans who purchase things for their businesses have many of the same motivations as consumers. They’re looking for the best value they can find, ideally from a seller they like personally, or whose values align with their own, or both.  

There are a few variations from consumer marketing. In particular there are some extra steps thrown into the lead generation mix, steps you have to complete for your marketing campaigns to succeed. 

But what type of company is best suited for a business-to-business marketing approach, and what components should you keep in mind when you lay out your B2B strategy? Read on, as we dive into the basics.


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Marketing B2B services: Who are they for?

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In general, B2B marketing aims to generate high-quality sales leads consisting of people who purchase goods or services on behalf of their companies.

B2B companies are all around us. Office supply stores, advertising agencies, software companies, and whoever still makes fax machines are all fundamentally in B2B. The way they sell to their customers is both similar and different than retailers, auto makers, airlines and other business-to-consumer companies. Here’s a basic breakdown.

Function B2B B2C
Target audience Decision-makers for other companies Individual consumers
Audience needs Professional expertise in purchasing products to augment their own business Easy-to-access goods and services that an individual needs
Purchase methodology Working with account managers and/or sales persons Direct purchase, often through an automated system
Purchasing timeline Longer, often involving multiple steps as the purchase goes through approvals and processes at the purchasing organization Quick, fast, and painless
Communication methods Authority and expertise-based, utilizing industry terms and knowledge Easy-to-understand information presented in an entertaining way


If that middle column describes what you’re trying to do, read on.

Types of B2B marketing plans

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Now that we’ve broken down what each type of marketing does, what are the main formats that a B2B marketing strategy can take?

1. Digital marketing

In short, digital marketing is an umbrella term that describes all marketing activities that happen online. Digital marketing can include content creation, email marketing, social media management, affiliate strategies, and pay-per-click marketing, among others. 

Keep in mind that you’ll be applying your digital marketing efforts in a specifically B2B context; more on that below.

2. Content marketing

Content marketing is a vast category within digital marketing, both for B2B and B2C. Essentially, it refers to content you create to drive people to your website and get them to buy your stuff. You do it by answering questions they have, providing valuable information or insights they can use in their business. 

Think of videos, case studies, landing pages, SEO-optimized blog posts, pictures, and social media posts. With B2B, you’ll be trying to connect through your expertise and your ability to help businesses with intelligent purchasing decisions. And while B2C content may focus almost entirely on making emotional connections with consumers, B2B marketers shouldn’t underestimate the power of emotion, either; their purchasers are human too, and just as likely to be moved to purchase by inspiration, or feelings of safety and security. 

3. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is just what it says on the tin. That is, you’re using social media to increase brand awareness, engage with your audience, and show them additional content. 

The social channels you use for B2B marketing will probably be different than B2C, as the audience you’re trying to reach will be more inclined to spend their time on networking sites like LinkedIn. But again, these aren’t robots (probably); C-suite executives and purchasing managers have Facebook accounts too. 

4. Email marketing

Email marketing is another fundamental pillar of B2B. If you’re trying to reach people purchasing goods on behalf of their company, those professionals will be busy. Much of what keeps them busy is email. Knowing that’s where they are, you should be trying to meet them there. 

Product updates, newsletters, and promotional emails are all good ways to get in front of prospective customers. 

5. Video marketing

With B2B videos, you generally want to inform your audience about your product’s features and benefits and how those features can augment their businesses. 

Videos can also be geared toward tutorials on how to use your products, emphasizing authority toward a subject. But while thought leadership works, it doesn’t require you to be overly formal or deadly serious. Again, these are human beings you’re selling to. It’s important to keep them entertained and make your content easily accessible. 

"In B2B, businesses are still making consumers jump through hoops to get the content they need and that's frustrating," says Melissa Kwan, co-founder and CEO of ewebinar.com. "The most effective strategy is always to meet customers where they are. Give them the info they need now to make a decision. Don't make them wait a week to get a demo."

How can you set yourself up for B2B marketing success?

Lastly, let’s run through a few quick tips for setting up your marketing strategy:

1. Keep your focus on your target audience

Digital marketing has a tremendous potential to target niche market segments, both for B2B and B2C. With B2B, you’ll want to narrow your focus to high-quality leads that are tight fits for the product you’re creating. You’ll be competing with other B2B businesses for their attention, so if the fit between product and purchaser is off, those leads will most likely go elsewhere.

2. Keep context in mind

When you’re creating content, always keep the buyer’s context front and center. The fundamental question you should be answering: What problem does my product or service solve? That’s the context that keeps your content relevant to your target audience.

3. Create visual content

Just like consumers, business buyers can connect with visual content in a way that quickly, effectively delivers your message. Think of high-res pictures, short-form videos, and infographics explaining abstract facts to spruce up emails and articles.

4. Harness the power of data

Every marketer can access metrics such as clickthrough rates and website traffic to track what works and what doesn’t to further hone in on their target audience. Use them. 

5. Remember to use multiple channels

When marketing your B2B business, don’t just stick to one channel. Instead, use multiple channels and methods to reach your target audience. Most of all, make sure you’re using the channels that your audience is prone to use; again, find out where they are and go there. 

To learn more about creating video content for the B2B arena, read Descript’s article on capturing quality video on a limited budget.

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Written by
Written by
Brandon Copple

Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.

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Brandon Copple

Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.

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