How to develop a B2B marketing strategy that outsmarts the competition
Do you know where your B2B business is headed? The chances are that you have a somewhat sturdy idea of what “success” looks like to your company, but do you know how you’re going to get from point A (dreaming about profits), to point B (brand success)?
A powerful B2B marketing strategy is a fundamental part of any company development process. If you don’t know how to properly capture the attention and loyalty of your target customer in today’s crowded marketplace, then you’re effectively setting yourself up for failure.
After all, business to business marketing strategies aren’t just a way to create a roadmap for your future, they’re part of the plan that all companies should have when it comes to earning the respect of their followers. If you don’t know exactly what your brand stands for, how you can connect with your audience, and where you’re going to differentiate yourself from your competitors, how can you possibly get the results you need?
Take the time to work alongside a brand communications and B2B marketing agency, and you could end up with better-defined business goals, a solid strategy of investment to inform your brand journey, and a B2B marketing agency that you can measure in terms of audience engagement and ROI.
Here, we’ll investigate everything you need to know about the world of business to business marketing. From how you can craft a B2B marketing plan from scratch, what you need to do to out-shine your competitors, and where you can find the inspiration to truly win the hearts, and cash of your audience.
B2B marketing definition: What are business to business marketing strategies?
Let’s begin with a basic B2B marketing definition.
You already know that business to business marketing is what companies do when they’re trying to earn the interest of entire organisations, rather than individual consumers. What you might not know, is where B2C and B2B marketing differ.
All good B2B marketing strategies begin by understanding that appealing to customers, and appealing to businesses are two very different processes. Consumers and companies are driven by different desires. For instance, while consumers are looking for ways to improve their status by buying the most popular products or services, businesses are often driven by more rational concerns, like price, and utility.
The average consumer is more interested in the packaging of the product than the product itself. For instance, they might buy something because a social media influencer recommended it, or because they like the personality portrayed by a brand. Companies, on the other hand, are looking for what’s best for their company. Customers use peripheral processing, looking for style, entertainment, and status. Businesses use rational thinking, determining how you’ll make their company feel special by offering them something they can’t get elsewhere.
It might seem as though customer relationships are most important in the emotionally-driven B2C market. However, the truth is that business to business marketing relies almost entirely on relationships. After all, B2B relationships typically last for much longer than B2C relationships.
If you want to be successful in B2B marketing, you need a plan of action. You need to decide how you’re going to establish and maintain the relationships that will keep your customers coming back for more.
So, what makes an effective B2B marketing strategy?
Anatomy of a B2B marketing strategy: Build your B2B marketing plan
When you begin developing your first business to business marketing strategies, the first thing you’ll realise, is that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. This is one of the many reasons why so many people turn to B2B marketing agency solutions for help. Marketing plans that are effective for one business won’t necessarily pack the same punch for another company.
You need to learn how to tailor your B2B marketing strategy to the unique goals of your company, and the specific needs of the organisations that make up your customer base. With that in mind, here are a few elements that help to make up the anatomy of a B2B marketing plan:
1. Goals and ambitions
No matter your industry or background, all B2B marketing strategies should begin with a close evaluation of what you want to achieve in your company. After all, the only way to measure if your marketing is successful, is to know what you’re aiming for in the first place. Think about whether you want to reach more leads, achieve more engagement, or simply deliver more brand awareness with your campaign.
2. Your brand messaging
Your brand messaging is the thing that gives your company its unique tone of voice. It’s your opportunity to connect with your audience on a deeper level, and show off your unique personality. This is crucial in B2B marketing, as other companies want to engage in business with companies that they feel close connections with. You need to convince your customer that you can provide them with a positive, long-lasting experience.
3. A SWOT analysis
The SWOT analysis is the process that allows you to identify the opportunities, strengths, weaknesses, and threats that are present for your company in your marketplace. You should consider a SWOT analysis before developing your B2B marketing strategy, because it will give you a better idea of how you can position your brand to get the best results. Close analysis can help you to recognise potential threats in advance, and come up with effective ways to manage them.
In a B2B marketing strategy, your KPIs, or key performance indicators, will help you to understand if your marketing strategy is reaching its goals. The KPIs you measure should link back to the overall marketing and business goals you’ve established. For instance, for B2B marketing strategies, you should be looking at the number of leads you get, the growth you’re experiencing as a brand, and how many people are engaging with your content.
5. Strategies for adjustment
In all business to business marketing strategies, it’s important to be ready for evolution. Marketing can be a difficult process, but one of the good things about it is that you can change with the times. If you create a bad marketing strategy to begin with, you can work with a B2B marketing agency in London (or elsewhere!) to ensure better performance in the future.
Creating a B2B marketing strategy that works is crucial to business success. The points above will help you to develop a framework for your campaigns, but you’re going to need to dive a lot deeper if you want to end up with a brand strategy that truly cracks your competitors.
Key steps for effective B2B marketing strategies
Alright, so you know where to get started with your B2B marketing strategies. Now, you need to know exactly how to ensure that you’re taking the right steps on behalf of your business. 85% of B2B marketers suggest that their main priority with marketing is to generate more leads. If that’s true for you, then you need to think carefully about how you can tailor your B2B marketing strategy towards that goal.
Make sure that you take the following steps in your business to business marketing strategies, to pave the way for measurable success:
B2B marketing strategy step 1: Define your customers
Any great marketing strategy begins with a solid understanding of your consumer base. In the world of B2B marketing, you need to learn as much as you can about not only the type of company that your business appeals to, but what the decision maker for those businesses might look like.
Creating a strong user persona is a powerful step towards an efficient and effective B2B marketing strategy. The more information you can include in your persona, the more personalised your marketing can be – strengthening the relationships you build with your audience.
B2B marketing strategy step 2: Understand context
Once you’ve found your target market, you’ll need to begin creating content that appeals to them, and highlights the benefits of your company. After all, content marketing isn’t just a feature of B2C advertising campaigns. Learn as much as you can about what your buyers are looking for when they come to your business. Discover their pain points, their motivations, and what their consumer journey looks like. The more you know about context, the more you can sway your audience into buying your products.
B2B marketing strategy step 3: Use online presence to generate trust
Your online presence is crucial when it comes to earning the trust and attention of your target audience in B2B marketing. Prospects are unlikely to convert for your company if they don’t trust whatever it is you’re offering. Just as everyday consumers will re-think buying from a company with a bad website, today’s B2B buyers will ignore any business that has:
Ugly calls to action.
Bad content or useless content.
Lack of contact forms.
B2B marketing strategy step 4: Share your expertise with your leads
As a business catering to other companies, you should know everything there is to know about your sector. If you have information that you can share with your customers that could make you more valuable to them, this could be a fantastic way of earning their long-term custom. Show your clients that you’re worth their time, and investment by:
B2B marketing strategy step 5: Be realistic, and over-deliver
Making huge promises to your customers might mean that people click on your content more often, but if you don’t deliver on the benefits you claim to be able to offer, then you could do irreparable damage to your reputation.
In B2B environments, even more than B2C, your audience wants to know that they can trust you to deliver consistent value and ongoing benefits. In other words, your B2B marketing plan should revolve around making sure you give your audience exactly what you’ve promised them.
B2B marketing strategy step 6: Review and analyse
No matter what your business to business marketing campaign might look like, it’s important to make sure that you’re constantly reviewing, analysing, and looking for ways to improve. Unless you have the help of a B2B marketing agency, there’s a good chance that you won’t get everything right first time around. Make sure that you have a quality-control plan in place to ensure that every aspect of your marketing strategy is working effectively.
For most companies, B2B marketing is not a simple process. In fact, it’s an on-going battle that involves constant research and optimisation. Even if you hit upon an incredible solution for acquiring new leads one year, the next year might require an entirely new approach. Keep your focus on the growth of your B2B marketing strategies, and be ready to adapt when new trends appear in your industry.
How to craft better business to business marketing strategies
By this point, you should have a reasonably good idea of what B2B marketing strategies look like. For most companies, they’re blueprints for success, informed by competitive analysis, carefully-structured user personas, and plenty of research into your chosen industry.
Now, we’re going to look at the factors that separate a good B2B marketing strategy, from business to business solutions that help you to create measurable success for your brand. Ultimately, a great B2B marketing plan combines an in-depth understanding of your brand manifesto and story, with a marketing mix intended to capture the hearts and minds of your audience.
It’s about telling your customers who you are in such a way that they feel compelled to do business with you, not only temporarily, but for the long-term too. So, how can you achieve this next-level B2B marketing?
1. Dig deeper into your segmentation
A strong part of optimising your marketing mix, involves narrowing your focus on who you want to market to. You can instantly improve your B2B marketing strategy by avoiding the “spray and pray” approach to brand awareness. Instead, think about exactly who you want to target within your marketplace. You might be a business that sells sports equipment to gyms, but will targeting every type of gym be best for your company, or would you be better-served advertising your equipment to rehabilitation programs, or body-building experts?
Lululemon is an example of a company who knows how to segment effectively. They created personas not just for one audience, but both the female and male customers they’re trying to target. The more you can narrow down your marketing, the more you can present yourself as a solution to your customer’s specific problems.
2. Make the most of brand culture
Every business has a unique culture. If you can share your culture, and the aspects that make your business unique with your potential audience, then you can humanise your brand, and open new opportunities for sales. After all, while B2B leads want to see you as a viable solution for their long-term growth and profits, they also want to do business with companies they feel connected to.
Look at this example from Salesforce, for instance. As soon as you visit the “About Us” section, you get a sense of community and warmth that other businesses want to be a part of.
3. Optimise with search engines
A lot of B2B companies seem to overlook the benefits of SEO solutions in their B2B marketing strategy. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 30% of B2B marketers spend no time on SEO. However, it’s worth noting that SEO can be one of the most essential elements in bringing organic traffic to your brand, and establishing thought-leadership in your industry.
To make the most out of your SEO placements, make sure that you:
Assemble target keyword lists that correspond with the needs of your user personas.
Define your brand messages within your SERPs.
Build brand authority with strong backlinks through content marketing and PR.
Use localised meta-data to scale your position on local pages.
4. Learn and improve
In the world of business, it’s important to devote yourself to a process of continuous learning and development. Failing to figure out where your audience is growing and changing could mean that you begin to lose the people you’ve worked so hard to attract over the years.
Take the time to make sure that you’re gathering as much data as possible about your audience. For instance, make sure that you use surveys and questionnaires as part of your marketing materials to give you more access to information about what your ideal B2B customer wants from your B2B marketing strategy.
5. Extend the B2B buyer funnel
We mentioned above that B2C and B2B marketing are very different processes. B2B marketing often requires the customer to take a much longer journey from prospect to customer. This is because B2B customers often want to learn as much as possible not just about a product, but a brand’s background before they engage in business with anyone new.
Unfortunately, a lot of business to business marketing campaigns fail to recognise the length of the marketing funnel, and therefore lose out on potential customers. To help extend your funnel and nurture more leads, try:
Creating educational content that answers customer questions about your product.
Hosting webinars and creating vlogs that show the value of your company.
Speaking of vlogs that show the value of your company, there are also many other ways that you can introduce video as a way of boosting your B2B marketing strategy efforts. For instance, one eMarketer study found that B2B buyers consider video to be one of the top three most useful types of content encouraging them to make purchases.
An explainer video could help you inform potential customers about your service or products, as well as your unique value proposition, and what you can do to bring your leads more benefits in the future.
7. Delve into your web presence
We mentioned the importance of building trust with your audience through a powerful online presence above. When you’re trying to make sure that your business to business marketing strategy will work, it’s crucial to think about what your web presence says about you.
According to Smart Insights, a good website and a powerful range of product pages were the number 1 decision-influencing factor for B2B customers. This means that you need a customer-centric website that shows your professionalism as a company. Ask yourself:
Does my website make me look credible?
Is my website trustworthy and welcoming?
Am I using the right design for my industry?
What does my web presence say about my brand’s personality?
Does my web presence make me look dynamic and stable?
8. Always market with emotion
In the world of B2B marketing strategies, while it’s important to focus on showing the benefits of your products to your customers, it’s also equally important to influence the emotions of your audience. Doing so will help you to create long-term engagement and interest.
Products created by B2C marketers are often more emotion-centric, but that doesn’t mean that B2B companies can’t make the most of emotional marketing. For instance, Intel’s RealSense technology taps into emotional marketing by showing customers that Intel understands their needs and desires.
Using a B2B marketing agency: London businesses, listen up
There are so many factors involved in creating an effective B2B marketing strategy, that it’s hard to touch on them all in just one article.
For most brands, the development and implementation of great B2B marketing strategies won’t be something that they can accomplish in-house. After all, great business to business marketing involves the integration of various marketing campaigns across different platforms and channels. It means thinking about how you’re going to communicate with your audience, and how you can create a consistent voice that represents your message effectively wherever you and your B2B customers interact.
Many B2B marketing plans struggle when it comes to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each potential channel, and how different strategies could support their business needs. On top of that, problems can arise when it comes to making sure that each channel works together, and that the full brand has a clear set of rules in place for maintaining visual identity and tone of voice.
Outsourcing your B2B marketing strategies to a B2B marketing agency in London, means that you can focus on the key tasks involved in running your business, while other experts focus on helping that company to grow. Your company probably has enough on its hands without having to worry about coordinating messaging across multiple channels and exploring new B2B marketing trends.
Ultimately, creating a business to business marketing strategy that outshines the competition, can simply be a matter of finding the right marketing agency to help you understand your brand message, and share it with the world.
Don’t be left behind when it comes to B2B success. Design your own custom B2B marketing plan, and share your vision with the world.
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