B2B is a weird acronym if you have no idea what it means. The first time I heard it, I truly thought someone was saying “Bee to bee.” I thought a B2B business was some type of corporate honey producer.
It’s not, of course. It stands for “Business to Business,” which in itself is a bit of a rare concept in our consumer driven world.
A B2B company produces products or services for other businesses.
As an example, think of the retail world. All the hardware that a sales associate uses to ring you up was made by a company who intended to sell their product to the store that you’re purchasing from. Additionally, all the point-of-sale software that is running on that hardware was also made by a company intending to sell it to a business.
What makes B2B different from B2C (business to consumer)?
In truth, these days, less and less is differentiating these two acronyms, at least as far as marketing goes. As work and life become more and more intertwined, it makes less sense to market to someone purely as an employee of a business. After all, that person is likely on Facebook and LinkedIn, and reading both the Wall Street Journal and Tom and Lorenzo’s fashion blog while at work. (That last one might just be me.) There’s no reason anymore for a B2B company to refrain from advertising on traditional B2C channels and, in fact, there are increasing reasons to advertise on those channels.
Regardless, there does remain one crucial difference between B2B and B2C. B2B businesses must deal with more than one customer per transaction. That is, in B2C, generally only one person is involved in the decision making process from start to finish. The person that a B2C company markets to is also the person who typically does the research, tests the product or service, decides on the budget, and approves the purchase. At a company interested in making a business purchase, these tasks can be, and often are, split amongst various people. For instance, 65% of all B2B software purchases include three or more people in the buying process. As a result, B2B marketing teams need to spend more time getting to know all their typical buyer personas to effectively market to all those involved.
Old school B2B marketing wisdom says that direct mail with follow-up calls is the way to go, but nowadays, not only do B2B marketers have access to more channels than in the past, but also more prospect information. With the advent of the digital age, marketers have a wealth of information about clients and potential leads at their fingertips, allowing them to target specific segments of people. With the knowledge problem solved, B2B marketers can focus on learning what mediums and methods their prospects respond to best. Some companies may find that Facebook is a gold mine for them, while other may find LinkedIn a hot spot.
There are a few marketing best practices that work well across all B2B companies, though:
- The digital offspring of direct mail, email marketing. Email marketing is incredibly effective – consumers spend an average of 138% more when they receive email offers!
- Storytelling. There are a lot of different ways for a B2B company to tell a story – they can tell their own brand story; they can tell a customer’s success story; they can tell a completely made up, hypothetical but relevant story. Regardless, stories have been proven over and over again to make advertisements— and brands— far more relevant, memorable, and effective.
- Create content. This goes along with storytelling. Creating content is an effective way to tell a story. What do I mean by creating content? Content is really anything that a brand produces beyond its products, and most typically refers to literature and videos. Content at its most basic explains the products a company produces. More advanced content campaigns help a company become a thought leader in their industry. Perhaps the most common way a B2B company can create content is through a blog, which also helps to boost the company’s SEO (score!).
For more information on B2B best practices, and ideas for more creative B2B marketing strategies, check out our full B2B marketing blog. It is chock full of ideas for better email marketing campaigns and creative lead gen tactics.
So that’s B2B and why it’s important. If you have any thoughts about B2B marketing, please add them in the comments below!
Header by Abby Kahler