How does selling a business to other businesses really differ from selling to consumers? There is surprisingly little written about this, and much that is focuses solely on differences in approach to web content, not the broader marketing picture.
From our extensive experience of B2B marketing – and not just across digital platforms but press, direct mail, PR and social media – the differences are more than just cosmetic. B2B requires a different mindset and a specific set of marketing techniques.
Know exactly who you are talking to and their level of understanding.
B2B products can be complex and technical. If the target market are technically-minded specialists, you can embrace the jargon and the detail, provided the sales messages and call to action are clear. If they aren’t, or this is a completely new product/service, you need to decide on the level of language that’s right for your communication – whether it’s a website, a press ad or a brochure.
Be clear about what you want them to do.
This means understanding their decisionmaking process and indeed whether they are the ones holding the purse strings. Are you talking just to the individual reading your communication, or to a group of decisionmakers who would all need convincing. Do you want them to contact you, or simply be receptive when you contact them? Exactly what will you propose? A longer telephone discussion? A presentation? A free trial?
Be patient. B2B relationships can be hard to crack.
There may be contracts with the incumbent supplier or business partner that go back many years. There may be a deal in place that’s going to be hard to match. The decision to switch or try out a new supplier is far more responsible than the consumer decision to try a new brand of shampoo, a fashion label or even a car. For this reason alone, it can make sense to consider a longer term ‘dripfeed’ approach to your marketing rather than a single campaign – a technique you can see here in our B2B campaign for MarketingRadar.
Make sure your branding stands up to scrutiny.
With so much marketing effort required to get your foot in the door, it makes sense to ensure your brand is one your prospects feel confident about doing business with. Research the competition, consider the mindset of your target market and ask yourself whether your existing marketing collateral will reassure and interest prospects – as with our launch of The Language Development Partnership – or send them running back to the safety of their existing relationships.
Focus, focus, focus.
With B2C there is rarely a ‘sale’ when someone clicks or picks up the phone. There is most usually the initiation of a series of conversations, proposals, estimates, and similar steps before any money changes hands. So the focus needs to be on getting that response. What happens after the click or the call will depend on the company’s sales team and is beyond the control of the marketer, who can only prepare the ground as best they can. Which leads to a final, important point …
Quality responses are essential.
Tying up a sales team (or even just a beleaguered marketing manager) with pointless enquiries from timewasters can be more damaging than too few responses. Every aspect of the marketing strategy should work towards ensuring that those who respond are already informed, understand the benefits of the product or service on offer (and they needn’t necessarily be unique – sometimes geographical proximity can be the deciding factor in choosing a supplier or partner company) and its potential cost. From this point of view, Adwords should be treated with caution. Unless they are part of an overall keywords strategy, they can lift the enquiry rate but all too frequently waste time, resulting in fewer sales due to poor quality enquiries.
In this instance, our organic SEO skills can make a real difference. Working consistently with companies to improve their SEO month on month and grow their visitor numbers (a service not widely available) we use carefully selected keywords that work with the brand positioning to target specific groups. As with this example from Shower Power, it’s an approach that works and the results are not only visible in the analytics but (more importantly) translate in quality leads by phone and email.
So could we be using our B2B marketing skills to the benefit of your business? Call us now on 01403 731028 – we’d love to talk.