Marketing the B2B Storm
I am no psychic, fortune teller or prophet with insight on the events to come, and do not need to be. It is clear for all to see what the consequences of the pandemic are as it ripples across the rest of the world. The impact will be momentous, and a global recession is almost certainly upon us.
Disruption of this magnitude is not a new phenomenon. Through the ages it would appear to be cyclical. We have lived through waves of disasters, wars and pandemics and I’m sure we will live through many more. We are an inherently resilient race in a volatile world.
At the same time, a crisis provides opportunity for change, the ‘new normal’ is a term that is being banded about. Yet no-one knows exactly what the ‘new normal’ will look like.
As B2B marketers our role is t0 make sense of this and navigate a course towards growth in unchartered waters. We must use the tools at our disposal to make sense of the future. This is possible by simply understanding the new behaviours, second guessing buying patterns and understanding the marketplace shifts. There will be whole new segments and prospects for many organisations. Identifying, communicating and converting with these prospects will be the difference between surviving and thriving.
What is B2B Marketing?
In simplistic terms, B2B (Business-to-business) marketing is the marketing and promotion of a brand, products or service from one business to another. B2B Marketing can include several common strategies like email marketing, PPC, SEO, and social media channels.
Business-to-consumer marketing (B2C Marketing) on the other hand refers to the tactics and strategies a company deploys to promote its products and services to individuals.
The Differences between B2B & B2C
There are many distinct differences between the both B2B and B2C. These include the purchasing and sales process, decision-makers involved, and cost of purchase. This is where B2B transactions are commonly higher in value than B2C. A business is also likely to buy more intelligently by conducting extensive research and doing a cost benefit analysis before a decision is made. On the other hand, consumers are more impulsive, making quick decisions are based on immediate needs.
For these reasons, successful B2B campaigns focus on offering value and benefits as oppose emotional reactions or needs. Understanding theses differences and adapting your marketing strategies as a result, will improve the outcomes.
Who uses B2B Marketing?
Organisations of all shapes and sizes, from financial companies offering business loans to software-as-a-service (SAAS) companies selling cloud-based solutions. The list goes on, think of it as a supportive community of companies that through their products and services help other companies perform better and grow. B2B marketing campaigns are aimed at any individual(s) who control or influence the purchasing decisions for their company. This can encompass a wide variety of titles and functions, from researchers, and procurement personnel, through to business owners and C-suite executives.
Creating a B2B Marketing Strategy & Plan
Any marketing strategy & plan must be unique to the organisation and its goals. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another. Developing one to deliver results requires thoughtful planning, execution, and management and every successful marketing strategy and plan should be continuously revised and optimized.
I’m a huge fan of the SOSTAC model by PR Smith. I use this model all the time for its suitability, simplicity and ease of use. SOSTAC 3-Min Explanation
- Situation - Where are we now?
- Objectives – Where do we want to go?
- Strategy – How will we get there?
- Tactics – How exactly will we get there?
- Action – Who does what and when?
- Control – How will we know we are there?
Types of B2B Marketing
There are many types of B2B marketing and channels currently out there. Here are a few most incorporated into the plan.
Search: B2B SEO can best be described as the science behind reaching professionals via search engines. The B2B space is significantly smaller than B2C, which means the B2B SEO strategy needs to account for high-value, very low-volume keywords.
Blogs: Blogging is one of the most essential B2B marketing tactics. Not only is it extremely cost effective, it’s also a reliable and very scalable way to generate and increase traffic to your website. Regularly updating blogs provides visibility and naturally drives inbound traffic to your site. Blogs can be created in various formats including written copy, infographics, videos and case studies.
Social Media: Social media channels are becoming more and more sophisticated, and the options for targeting are growing. Social media marketing is extremely effective at reaching decision makers, so developing a good plan that incorporates both organic and paid should be in the mix.
Whitepapers/eBooks: This is an excellent route for a brand to develop their expertise, authority and trust amongst target prospects whilst also offering the ability to data capture through gated downloads and subscriptions.
Email: Getting your prospects to make a buying decision is extremely difficult at the best of times, this is especially true with B2B email marketing. But with the right approach, can be extremely successful.
B2B Marketing Best Practices
The best B2B marketers today have personalisation at the heart of the journey. They keep context in mind and speak the same language as their customers. Platforms such as LinkedIn are fantastic for the B2B community and are highly effective for reaching the right prospects. It’s recommended that every B2B organisation develops their own company page on LinkedIn. Not only is it completely free, it also provides a destination page for people researching businesses and provides a platform for business announcements, updates and targeting using the following methods:
- Native Ads
- Lead Generation
- Sponsored InMail
- Dynamic Ads
An alternative B2B strategy is Account-based marketing (ABM) that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of accounts or prospects. Again, using personalisation and the right context, campaigns are designed to by highly target and resonate with each prospect.
Whilst some organisations have their own marketing departments and resource to execute B2B marketing strategies and campaigns, many don’t. That’s where POLARIS can help.
Polaris is an award-winning B2C and B2B SEO agency in London specialising e-commerce, B2B and the healthcare industry.