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Business-to-business, or B2B, marketing is used by businesses to promote their products and services to other businesses and organizations. Marketing efforts don’t directly target individual consumers, which is different from business-to-consumer, or B2C, marketing.
Relationship building is important in B2B marketing, and messaging is often built around facts and data that can demonstrate the cost and benefits of the product or service. However, your B2B marketing strategy can also include emotional messaging to engage the people who make purchasing decisions at the business or organization.
B2B marketing strategy
Having a strategy when marketing to other businesses can help you effectively promote your products and services and also stay within your marketing budget.
Establish goals and metrics
The first step in any marketing strategy is to define your goals. While increased sales may be the ultimate goal of your B2B marketing strategy, setting goals around brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, buyer education and event participation can also contribute to increased revenue for your business.
After setting your goals, you’ll want to define the metrics that will be used to measure success. For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic, then you may choose to use a marketing tool such as Google Analytics to check your numbers on a weekly basis.
Define target audience
In B2B marketing, your target audience is composed of businesses and organizations that are likely to purchase your product and services. Ideally, your target audience has a problem and your business has a solution to offer. Researching the market is one way to learn more about your target audience. Attending industry events, subscribing to industry publications and joining related associations can also help you define potential customers who would be interested in what you’re selling.
Create materials for specific purposes
While your target audience is a business in B2B marketing, your marketing materials and messaging will be directed at people — those who have influence on what is purchased and/or the authority to make purchasing decisions. Based on your goals and target audience, you may need to create marketing materials for the following:
Content marketing materials can help you increase brand awareness, generate new leads and establish your business as a leader in the industry. Blog articles, newsletters, videos, webinars, podcasts, e-books, white papers, newsletters and other content can be made available on your website and also shared with your target audience through email and social media posts.
Email marketing can be used to deliver marketing messages to current customers as well as potential customers. For example, newsletter, promotional and announcement emails could be sent regularly to your existing customers, while lead-nurturing campaigns with information designed to educate buyers about your brand, products and services could be sent to potential customers.
Social media marketing
Educational content is what’s typically required for social media marketing efforts. Posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms allow you to share links to blogs, videos, e-books, presentations and other materials you’ve created for your content marketing efforts. Because LinkedIn is a professional network, a B2B business may want to prioritize its presence on the platform.
Sales team efforts
Both digital and printed brochures, proposals, fact sheets and other promotional materials may need to be created if you have a sales team that engages prospective customers over the phone, online, in person or at events. Also, presentations can be another helpful tool for your sales team in the marketing process.
Ads for trade publications
You may want to create digital or print ads to engage B2B buyers who read trade and industry publications. While mainstream publications typically have a broad audience, trade publications that provide industry news and trends can allow you to reach your specific target audience. Ad requirements will vary depending on the publication.
Regularly monitoring the metrics for your marketing goals allows you to confirm that you’re on the right track and will also give you the opportunity to fine-tune your efforts. A marketing attribution model can help you determine how much each effort contributes to conversion and, therefore, which to prioritize.
For example, if you’re seeing success in the leads attributed to ads in trade publications, you may want to renew your contract with the publication or increase your ad spend. Or, if the response from your email marketing has been below goal, a review of your content and A/B testing may be necessary to improve engagement.
B2B marketing tips
The following tips may provide a boost to your B2B marketing efforts.
Coordinating your marketing campaigns — a series of messages with the same theme — on multiple platforms can reinforce your marketing message and broaden your reach to your target audience. For example, if you received an industry award that called out your warranty program, you could build content to share on multiple platforms: a social media post mentioning your award, a blog article discussing the importance of warranty programs, and an email series giving details about your warranty with a link to the blog.
Maintain a high-quality website
Your website is often the first impression a potential customer has of your business. If you want to be viewed as a legitimate, professional business, your website should reflect that. Well-written content and high-quality images that are consistent with your brand will build trust and credibility. And with so many people accessing content through their mobile devices, a mobile-first website design can help your business appear modern and relevant. E-commerce website builders can help simplify the process with pre-built templates and drag-and-drop tools.
Take advantage of SEO
A majority of the organic traffic to your website will come from searches on platforms such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. Search engine optimization, or SEO, can improve online visibility and assist in your B2B marketing efforts. In addition to having quality content on your website, you may be able to improve rank by including keywords that your target audience would use in searches, that are specific to your industry, and that are region- or location-specific, if appropriate.
Manage your business profiles on social media platforms
Business profiles on Google, Bing, Yelp and other platforms are a free way for your business to engage online customers. Depending on the platform, you may need to go through a process to "claim" your existing business profile and review it for accuracy, or create a business profile with all the necessary information. This will make it easier for your business to appear in searches. For example, claiming your profile on Google helps it appear in local searches and on Google Maps.