- B2B customers have different motivations and needs than B2C customers
- Email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing are three effective channels that can help you reach the B2B market
- B2B customers primarily focus on return on investment and seek companies that can provide expertise and value to their own business
The key to any effective marketing strategy is choosing the right channels and catering your messaging to the appropriate audience. This rings especially true when it comes to two primary strategies: business-to-business marketing and business-to-consumer marketing.
Business-to-business (B2B) marketing and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing are two very different approaches for promoting your products or services. In this guide, you’ll learn the differences between B2B and B2C marketing tactics and discover how to adjust your messaging to reach B2B customers. You’ll also discover three effective B2B marketing strategies for the business-to-business market.
What is business-to-business marketing?
Business-to-business marketing is a strategy used by companies to sell to other companies or organizations. Companies that primarily offer products or services to other businesses—rather than consumers—use B2B marketing strategies.
Every business has its own specialized products or services. It’s impossible to be an expert in every area of business, so companies turn to other companies for expertise, materials, or services. It’s a strategic decision businesses make to save money and time instead of trying to produce goods or perform the same services themselves.
For example, a small restaurant owner will likely not have the know-how to fix their heating and cooling system on their own. When the time arises, they will search for an HVAC company to fix their equipment. If you’ve started your own HVAC company, you could capture this lead by using marketing strategies for the business-to-business market. You could create a marketing campaign focused on small restaurants in your area and speak to their exact needs.
How is B2B different from B2C?
The main difference between business-to-business marketing and business-to-consumer marketing is the target audience. B2B marketing strategies for the business-to-business market are geared toward other companies, while B2C is focused on everyday consumers. These two target audiences have very different needs, interests, and motivations, so your marketing efforts will have to adapt accordingly.
B2B customers are decision makers within an organization. They make purchase decisions with their organization’s best interests in mind. Return on investment (ROI) is a top priority of B2B customers and business owners. They seek expertise and know-how from your company and are driven by financial motivations.
For instance, a lawn care company may have a fleet of vehicles that they use for daily jobs. This company could choose to service the vehicles themselves or outsource this work to a trusted mechanic who specializes in this field.
Trust is a major concern for these customers, and they want your company to educate them—that’s why they’re turning to your company to solve their pain points. Instead of making purchases directly from your company, they prefer to work with an account manager or salesperson.
B2B customers do not act alone, and it’s rare that a purchase decision will be made immediately. They will generally have to consult with other decision makers in their organization before they choose your business.
Lastly, many B2B relationships are long-term endeavors. In many cases, they’re seeking a solution that will last longer than one purchase cycle. This could come in the form of a long-term contract with your company, providing a greater sense of stability.
B2C customers aren’t driven by ROI as much as they are by things like emotions and discounts. They don’t rely on logic and financial gain as much as B2B buyers.
Let’s say you open a new hair salon in your area. Customers might be swayed by more emotional salon marketing strategies—such as enticing branding and experiential elements, like onsite complimentary tea, coffee, and snacks—rather than service prices alone.
The same goes for educational content. B2C customers may pay attention to the educational content you provide, but they don’t rely on it to decide you’re the right business for them.
While B2B customers prefer to deal with a sales team or account manager, B2C customers prefer to make a purchase directly from a company and make their decision independently.
Lastly, B2C customers don’t typically rely on long-term relationships. You have an opportunity to build brand loyalty with B2C customers, but sometimes the relationship is transactional and could be a one-off purchase.
Marketing strategies for the business-to-business market
There are a variety of marketing strategies to consider when laying out a marketing plan, but not all strategies are appropriate for B2B customers. Three effective tactics you can use are email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.
Email marketing engages your email subscribers and helps you stay top of mind through retargeting (i.e., re-engaging customers based on their previous actions and behaviors). It helps you build trust with your subscribers and can potentially convert them into valuable leads.
You can use email marketing content to show your value to leads and gain their trust. One impactful piece of email content can include links to informational blog posts on your website, which can educate and nurture your leads to the next step of the sales funnel. You can push them one step closer to becoming a potential customer by proving your expertise and giving them actionable content.
Let’s say a cafe owner is trying to do some electrical work on their own. An electrician could create a blog post teaching basic electrical tips to educate this potential lead. If the cafe owner decides they’re in over their head, they may turn to this electrician to fix their issues.
Remember that B2B customers are typically thinking about the bottom line and return on investment. The majority of your content should demonstrate your value and benefit to their business.
Also, don’t clutter your emails with too much information. Doing so can easily overwhelm your recipients, prompting them to ignore your emails, trash them, or unsubscribe from your email list altogether. Keep it simple and only have one call to action in every email to improve click-through rates. This could be driving them to an informational blog post, product information page, or pricing landing page on your website.
Business decision makers need to trust your expertise before they officially become your clients. Content marketing aims to educate, build trust, and provide value to B2B customers even before they’re in your book of business.
Content marketing—specifically blog posts on your website—is an optimal lead generation channel for B2B customers. It gives you an opportunity to show that you’re a thought leader and industry expert.
Arguably, content marketing can be more valuable than other types of digital marketing, like pay-per-click ads (PPC). B2B customers are looking for logical solutions to their problems, something that content marketing can provide that paid ads cannot.
Content marketing also helps with your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Search engine optimization is the process of adjusting your online content to improve your rankings on search engines. The higher you rank for specific search terms, the more traffic comes to your website and the stronger your brand awareness grows among potential customers.
To optimize your blog content, you need to anticipate what your leads are searching for online. You can do so by using a keyword research marketing tool to find the most impactful search terms. Case studies and customer testimonials can also be effective pieces of content to promote your brand.
Take those high-traffic terms and write articles pertaining to each one. You can then use these articles to promote your business and provide links within other B2B marketing channels, like your email marketing and social media accounts.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is more commonly used for B2C outreach, but you can find great success by using social media platforms that focus primarily on the business market.
For instance, a platform like LinkedIn is an ideal channel to tap into B2B customers. LinkedIn caters to professionals and business leaders—the exact audience you’re trying to reach. Create a LinkedIn account for your business and start regularly posting informational content from your blog and other reliable sources. This shows that you’re an industry expert and can be trusted to provide value to B2B customers’ businesses.
For instance, a general contractor could create a post about the importance of retaining heat in your office during the winter months. They could give tips like installing new windows and doors and upgrading insulation. These tips could save other business owners a great deal of money while also increasing brand awareness and future business for the general contractor.
You can take it one step further by sharing your small business content on your personal LinkedIn page and encourage your employees to post on your company’s behalf. Content that’s posted by employees receives eight times higher engagement than content posted by businesses, as it gives your business and brand a personal touch and shows that real people can vouch for the quality of work you provide.
Adjust your marketing strategies for the B2B market
B2B marketing strategies for the business-to-business market are quite different from those for the B2C market. As such, it’s essential to cater your marketing tactics to meet the demands of B2B customers. Start by implementing three core B2B marketing channels—email, content, and social media—and then expand your efforts into other areas of online marketing, such as search engine optimization, paid online ads, and review sites like Yelp.
Remember, B2B customers always have ROI at the top of their minds. Show your expertise and value in your space, and demonstrate your thought leadership by sharing educational content and messaging. For more effective ways to promote your company, explore these 11 business growth strategies that can help take you to the next level.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.