Understanding B2B Marketing: How to Market to Businesses
B2B marketing, a.k.a. the practice of marketing to businesses, is different than marketing to individuals (also called B2C marketing, or business to consumer marketing).
B2B marketers face challenges like how to best generate new leads, how to improve lead quality, and (perhaps most importantly) understanding the customer journey from beginning to end. If you’re in the business of helping other businesses, here’s what you need to know about marketing successfully.
Understanding the customer's journey
“Customer journey” is a phrase you’ll hear often in marketing. At the most basic level, understanding the customer journey means knowing what happens during all of the moments that lead to a purchase. For example, the customer journey could begin when:
Someone learns about your business from a friend or colleague
A potential customer does a Google search and lands on your website
A CEO hears you speak at a conference
Your ad is displayed online
These four examples are just the tip of the iceberg, too. Many businesses have complicated customer journeys, especially when you consider online marketing efforts, and these efforts can take many months before results are ever seen.
When you understand where and how potential business customers might find you, you can then tailor your marketing campaigns accordingly.
Lead generation tools for B2B marketing
Generating new leads regularly is pivotal to the success of your B2B company, and you can generate new leads in countless ways:
Optimized landing pages on your website
Through online networking, like LinkedIn
Via social media - check out this guide to social for B2B marketing
Through white paper downloads
Regardless of the methods being used, the way you communicate what you’re selling is important. As you develop marketing campaigns, remember:
Your product or service’s value. Your potential customers have endless purchasing options. What makes your offer different, and what problems will it solve? Don’t focus on features, focus on benefits.
To include calls to action. These tell potential customers what they should do next, like calling your business or filling out a form for more information. It’s your job to guide the customer through the customer journey, all the way to purchasing.
Prove your credibility. Testimonials and reviews are powerful forms of social proof, and social proof can help you make more sales.
Copywriting is an essential skill for any business, and anyone can learn how to write copy that converts if they practice.
Not all leads are created equal
Unqualified leads are worse than having no leads at all. Chasing after leads who aren’t qualified wastes time and resources that could be better allocated elsewhere.
Some businesses use marketing automation software to help qualify, or “score”, their leads based on different criterion. These tools are incredibly useful, but you can also do some of the legwork on your own. When a new lead comes in, assess attributes such as:
The lead’s job title
Pain points (does the solution you’re offering solve a problem this business has?)
Essentially, you’re looking for your ideal customer. Spend some time writing down who that ideal customer is, too. When you know who you’re looking for, it suddenly becomes much easier to find those businesses.