B2B marketing stands for business-to-business marketing and describes all marketing measures aimed at companies as customers. The term is used in distinction to B2C marketing, business-to-consumer marketing, which targets end customers. Although the same instruments are used to some extent in both marketing areas, B2B marketing basically pursues a much more target-oriented approach.
What is B2B Marketing
In marketing, a distinction is made between B2B and B2C, as advertising aimed at businesses works quite differently from marketing aimed at end consumers. B2B marketing, for example, does not usually need to have a large reach, as the number of customers is limited in most cases. For this, close coordination with the sales department or the sales department makes sense, because the measures in B2B marketing should not stand on their own as far as possible. Ideally, sales should start directly after marketing, so that many leads (customer inquiries) are fed into the sales funnel. After all, not every lead leads to an order, so enough leads must be generated to sufficiently fill the sales funnel.
Another important difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the much more personal approach in business-to-business. Here, advertising must be targeted to the people who decide on or influence the order. These include
- Head of department
- directors or management of the company
- Professionals who advise senior executives and management
- Employees of the finance department
Large-scale advertising campaigns are therefore less of an issue in the B2B sector – instead, the target group can be made aware of one’s own company with small, direct measures. To increase brand awareness, for example, specialist articles on topics and areas in which the company is active can be used. Internet portals such as Xing and LinkedIn can also be very helpful in B2B marketing, because jobs are not the only things offered there. Unlike social media sites such as Facebook, however, there is still a clear content focus here, so if a company also highlights new developments, trends or offers on its profile page in addition to jobs, it often reaches the appropriate target group.
An online presence is absolutely essential in B2B marketing, because only very few decision-makers will place an order solely on the basis of advertising. Conducting one’s own research on topics and providers is an integral part of the process here – and well over two-thirds of decision-makers conduct this research online. With the right SEA and SEO measures, a company can put itself in a favorable position during such research and often increase the probability of an inquiry.
The third important pillar in B2B marketing is trade fairs and events. Here, possible partners can be contacted in a targeted manner together with the sales department. However, since there are a lot of trade fairs and events in most industries, not all events can be served as a rule. Accordingly, the motto here should be “less is more” – so instead of contacting as many potential customers as possible at a trade show, it is often better to focus on a few of them in order to close a deal there. This is where the personal focus comes into play again: business customers want reliable partners who know them and where communication runs smoothly. Mass processing, which can be quite successful in the B2C area, will rarely lead to success in the B2B area.
How do you find a suitable approach to B2B marketing?
In order to make good use of the various business-to-business marketing options, it is first necessary to define the target group precisely. For example, the following questions are interesting:
- Should rather large or small companies be addressed?
- Which industries are served by one’s own company?
- Is there an industry that is particularly important?
Subsequently, it must be clarified how the target group can best be addressed. Are the customers active on Facebook and can they be contacted via social media content, for example? Can professional networks such as Xing and LinkedIn be used? Do the customers’ employees regularly attend certain trade shows or events?
In addition, the objective of the measures must be defined – because it makes a big difference whether leads are to be generated or whether you just want to increase awareness of the company or the brand.
Once these questions have been answered, concrete steps can be taken. The Internet plays a key role here, because despite the importance of trade fairs and events, online measures are becoming increasingly important in B2B marketing. As a rule, it is advisable not to rely on a single measure, but to use several together, as they often complement each other and thus produce synergy effects.
First priority should be given to the company’s Internet presence, because without an online presence, the company will be hard to find, no matter how good the advertising. A well thought-out onpage optimization is therefore an absolute must. The page must be clearly designed and easy to read, and it must offer an easy way to contact the company – after all, most of the people in charge gather information about possible business partners via the Internet. For this reason, a presence in one or more B2B portals should definitely be established in addition to the company’s own website. These portals serve as the first point of contact for many decision-makers in their search for business partners. With a convincing presence, many leads can be generated via the portals.
If brand awareness is to be increased in particular, SEA campaigns have proven their worth. Of course, leads can also be generated in this way, but since the ads appear regardless of whether a business partner or only information on the relevant topic is being sought, they primarily contribute to awareness of the company or brand.
Content marketing, on the other hand, is aimed more at offering customers added value through content and thus underpinning the expertise of one’s own company. The latter is particularly important in the B2B sector, because only if a potential partner is seen as competent is a contract even considered. Content marketing can be carried out primarily via a company’s own website, but B2B portals and job networks such as Xing and LinkedIn are also suitable for this purpose.
B2B marketing and social media content
It is generally said that social media is less suitable for the B2B sector, as communication here is not targeted enough. In principle, this is true, however, not only companies have a profile on Facebook and Co. but also employees of these companies. This fact means that social media content can certainly be used to win over corporate customers. However, it is important that it is used correctly. Possible goals here could be:
- Attract attention
- Emphasize the company’s expertise
- Establish contacts for sales
- Solicit referrals
If enough representatives of the target group are present on a social media channel, regular posts in combination with Facebook Ads can increase brand awareness. The ads appear in a targeted manner to people with corresponding interests and ensure that the posts are read more frequently – provided they offer exciting content or other added value.
The second point on the list is not feasible for all companies, but it is for many. A wide range of topics are discussed on social media channels. Through well-founded contributions and comments, a company can prove its expertise here and thus build a reputation. This is worth its weight in gold, especially in the B2B sector, because companies with a good reputation are seen as credible and can therefore win the trust of customers more easily.
Social media is also suitable for making it easier for sales to make contact. For example, by discreetly drawing the attention of a responsible person to an article that could be of interest to him or her, a point of contact is created for the sales department. In addition, the contact is no longer so unexpected for the person in charge and he is usually more open-minded.
One last way to use social media for B2B marketing is to ask business partners for referrals. Of course, this is only worthwhile with customers who are completely satisfied with the services of one’s own company, and works particularly well if a recommendation is also made in return. Alternatively, you can just ask for Likes or sharing of content – very few companies have a problem with this and, with a bit of luck, the process takes on a life of its own. The company then benefits from increasing brand awareness and a good image, and its own advertising statements also appear more credible if they are backed up by third-party recommendations.
B2B marketing differs significantly from the B2C variant. Here, the most important thing is to identify the target group and address them directly with smaller measures. Personal contact and an impeccable reputation are also very important. In addition, advertising should not be too intrusive, especially if you want to attract new customers. If the company’s name and services are well-known, that is often enough, because customers will then find the company themselves via B2B portals and the website. Social media can help generate leads, but usually plays second fiddle to content and search engine marketing.
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