What is it and what makes it different?
What is B2B marketing? It is companies meeting the needs of other companies though, ultimately, demand is likely to be driven by consumers. What makes B2B marketing different to consumer marketing? The following 11 factors:
1. Greater complexity in decision-making
In consumer markets, buying decisions are confined to one person or a small unit, while B2B audiences are complex groups of constantly changing individuals. Each person in the DMU brings their interests, motivations, psychological and cultural baggage to the decision. Faced with such complexity, the B2B marketer must demonstrate great skill.
2. Greater rationality among buyers
Consumers are less accountable to others and susceptible to whims and indulgences. But most B2B buyers are rational. No B2B buyer will risk their livelihood or reputation on an unreliable product or service, which is why case studies and other factors conveying trust and reliability are essential.
3. Greater complexity in products
Consumer products are largely standardized, while industrial products are often customized, requiring high levels of fine-tuning and expert buyers. The key for the B2B marketer is being well-informed about the product or service – the success of your company depends on it.
4. Less customers
Smaller numbers of customers and key accounts distinguish B2B markets from consumer markets. Database management is crucial, with all the manpower, proactivity and responsiveness this entails. B2B key accounts now look for partnerships – if you don’t satisfy these needs, your competitors will.
5. Less variance
Consumer markets have thousands of potential customers – it is practical to divide the market into distinguishable segments. B2B target audiences are smaller, with whims, insecurities and indulgences kept at bay. The focus tends to be price, quality, brand, service and partnership. Nevertheless recognizing which customers fit which segments, and how to appeal to each of these segments, requires sound market intelligence.
6. Greater focus on relationships
Relationships are vital in B2B markets. Bonds develop. Trust develops. The B2B salesperson is a different animal to the consumer salesperson. Their focus is on cultivating relationships. The importance of relationships is particularly pronounced in emerging markets like China and Russia, where branding and a culture of free information are in their infancy.
7. Greater focus on the long-term
Repeat purchases and service back up are common in B2B markets. The benefits of retaining a B2B customer are often enormous, and the consequences of losing them serious. The longer term focus in B2B markets reiterates the importance of relationship building and a technically-focused sales team.
8. Less innovation
B2C companies must innovate, responding to and predict the whims of consumers, whereas B2B innovations are often carefully planned and successfully commercialized. Audiences and trends are more easily identified and B2B marketers have time and indicative data from upstream to assess their options. The challenge is gathering quality intelligence before your competitors do.
9. Packaging is not as important
Consumer packaging is a vehicle for transmitting desires and aspirations. This is far more difficult to achieve in B2B markets, where product is judged primarily on technical criteria and relationships, not dreams, aspirations or appearances. Resources are best directed at relationships and expertise.
10. Less focus on sub-brands
Brand is a hugely neglected B2B marketing opportunity. B2B companies tend to be less successful at branding across all customer touchpoints, and some develop confusing sub-brands. It is vital your brand strategy is thoroughly researched and implemented. Less is more – far better to have one coherent brand rather than a raft of sub-brands.
11. Buyers demand more
B2B buyers tend to be highly knowledgeable and have a responsibility to their companies. It is vital you meet your target audience’s needs, raising your game to ensure that your product, services and intangibles meet and exceed customer requirements. The good news is B2B buyers are more predictable than consumers. This means that good quality market intelligence and close attention to your audience’s needs puts you in a strong position to meet those needs.