Marketing B2B services: Who are they for?
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.
If that middle column describes what you’re trying to do, read on.
Types of B2B marketing plans
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.