While the fundamentals of traditional marketing are more or less understood by the general public, the term “B2B” is still an obscure one (not that it shouldn’t be).
B2B Marketing means business-to-business marketing and involves the sale of goods and services from one business to the other (instead of the usual: business to a consumer – B2C).
Let’s define things!
Both B2B and B2C marketing are about one entity selling to another, so what’s the difference between them?
Well for one, B2C deals with a much bigger number of buyers and can work on a mass scale and sell products such as a $2 pen, whereas B2B. often operates with products and services with a big price tag (construction, consulting etc.). Moreover, B2C clientele have their personal interest in mind, so when a competitor charges less for the same quality product, don’t expect so much loyalty (unless you’ve created a tribal following for your brand). B2B however, is all about the best interest of the company and all its stakeholders; the money is found in the fostering of long lasting relationships that ensure repeat (high value) purchases. The sales process takes longer, but the payout and ROI are bigger. It’s important to note that the chain of command is also longer in B2B since big budget sales (and bigger stakes) need to be approved by top management.
It’s a new age, a new approach!
Looking back, it is clear that the Internet and social media were the catalysts of a new age for B2B marketing. Before the Internet, B2B marketers had the task of chasing market leads, developing connections with the right people, having “casual” meetings and did a lot of cold calling. It would often take months of educating a buyer and developing this relationship of trust before it bore any fruit.
Now, the game has changed and the approach is more “scientific” if you will. The online trail is a valuable asset that can bring a lot of clarity to the lead conversion process. Tracking digital behaviors, identifying quality leads through analysis tools and CRM software is much more common, not to say necessary. Modern day B2B marketing involves the digital industry more than ever!
How do you get B2B Leads?
How do these companies communicate with one another? Mainly, through content marketing. Content marketing allows a business to continuously educate its customers, surrounds them with information and allows them to show their expertise in order to motivate prospects to do business with them.
Moreover, instead of relying on the traditional communications channels of direct mail, advertising and public relations, they focus on actually generating and creating something to talk about, through: blogs, websites, social media, videos and newsletters.
Not only are these new methods more cost effective, but they allow a business to be its own publisher, to impose itself as an influencer, an industry leader and an expert (much like we are humbly doing right NOW) and most importantly to gain CREDIBILITY. This method can also help get the word out further and faster than traditional media, because while some people automatically avoid any form of advertisement, content marketing is often shared between peers.
So what makes content marketing the core differentiator between B2B and traditional marketing, is that instead of convincing people to buy your product for x and y reason, you are simply putting your know-how forward, educating (and even empowering) the client and therefore letting him come to you of his own will.
More Challenges for B2B Marketers!
Having said all this, none of above really matters unless ONE underlying factor is always underlying and prominent: QUALITY. We can confidently say that most cases of failed content marketing must be the result of either a lack of real investment in the creation of the content, or a botched strategic approach. But what is sure, is that marketers not only need to be experts of marketing and advertising, but of their industries as well.
Information travels faster than ever, social media ensure that everyone has an opinion and so, being genuinely authoritative and credible in all matters related not only to the brands you manage but to the industry you operate in, is a new norm for all B2B marketers.