What is B2B Marketing? [video]

What is B2B Marketing?

If you think the answer is obvious, and even too basic to discuss, why does everyone get it so wrong? Let’s explore a few notable definitions and build a simple, clear answer.

Here’s my take.

A defintition of B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing is the process of planning and executing strategies and campaigns that position your brand in the chosen category(ies) with the businesses most likely to buy, and then creates demand for a well-aligned sales force.

To do that we need to:

  • Agree with Sales what problem you are best-equipped to solve
  • Agree the target market (usually those most affected by that problem)
  • Agree the solution (whatever it takes to fully solve that problem)
  • Agree the velocity (how many deals from how many proposals, from how many…all the way back up the funnel)
  • Agree the campaigns and tactics that will move buyers through your funnel at that rate
  • Measure what’s actually happening and optimise your processes as necessary

But that’s not what I found

Let me show you what I found on Google, and then I’m going to come back and explain that answer more fully. But I’m also going to simplify that even further.

First article from Study.com

They talk about marketing a product to businesses or other organisations for use in production of goods, or for general business operations or for resale. Now, I actually don’t agree with that.

I want to quickly take issue with that. If the end consumer of your product or service is a consumer, then you’re in B2C. If the end consumer is business, then you’re in B2B. Who the intermediary is doesn’t suddenly make them B2B.

That is, if you’re selling clothes through a retailer and you’re the manufacturer, you’re not in the B2B business, you’re in the B2C business 100%. So, I actually disagree with that. There are no real conclusions here worth noting anyhow.

Next, from B2B International

Now they argue that B2B is mostly derivative. That is, it’s the start of the consumer supply chain and, again, I just plain disagree with that. However, they’ve gone on to list some really useful points. Now rather than scroll through the whole article, let me quickly give you the 10 points that they make.

I’ll agree with most of these points and conclude that B2B buyers are more demanding.

Third is from Marketing-Schools.org

There are a couple of points I want to bring out in particular. They argue that business-to-business marketing involves the sale of one company’s products or services to another company. I think that’s certainly true. Now the point I want to make is, how big is it?

  • The purchases made by businesses, government agencies and institutions make up more than half of all economic activity in the United States. (Dwyer and Tanner, 2006)
  • In 2003, B2B marketers spent approximately $85 billion a year to promote their goods and services. (Business Marketing Association)
  • A 2001 study found that the dollar value of B2B transcations significantly exceeded that of consumer transactions. (Hutt and Speh, 2001)

Basically, the net conclusion is that B2B is as big or perhaps bigger than consumer marketing. Now frankly, that’s kind of all I got from it. The article was not written for my consumption, it was written for students trying to find a marketing school. So no criticism, but it’s not really going to help me answer my question.

The next article is from The Balance

Here we look at understanding the differences between B2B and B2C Marketing, which is going to be helpful to me to understand what B2B marketing is.

Here are a couple of great quotes, with which I wholly agree:

  • “When you market to B2B you will realise that businesses work hard to streamline the buying process in order to save time and money. This often explains why a B2B purchase is based more on logic and why a consumer’s purchase is based more on emotion.”
  • “The easiest way to explain this is that a business-to-business transaction often takes more consideration and more people tend to be involved, requiring more decision makers.”

But then the article also makes some wrong conclusions like, “When you are marketing to a B2B you want to focus on the logic of the product. You do this by focusing on the features of the product.” This is untrue, we’ve been working hard for decades to get ourselves and sales people to stop focusing on the product and start focusing on the problem that you solve for the market.

It’s a good start, not a great finish but still worth the read.

Finally, Wikipedia

In this case, despite my absolute love of Wikipedia, on this occasion it’s a pretty light contribution. The best thing from this article is this quote:

“B2B is often contrasted against business-to-consumer (B2C). In B2C commerce it is often the case that the parties to the relationship have comparable negotating power, and even when they don’t, each party typically involves professional staff and legal counsel in the negotiation terms, whereas B2C is shaped to a far greater degree by economic implications of information asymmetry.”

In English, often the seller knows more than the buyer in B2C, not in high volume or high value transactions, but certainly in most transactions. Whereas in B2B, that’s often not the case. The B2B buyer often knows at least as much and sometimes even more than the seller.

How to think about B2B Marketing

Big decisions get big focus. As a consumer, you spend more time researching the purchase of a new home than a new shirt. The seller likewise: the sale of a house represents a huge commission and so they sweat it. The shirt though will get focus from the consumer marketer because they sell thousands. Someone selling an old shirt on eBay though might give it 10 minutes. So, what gets focus:

  • Big consumer purchases
  • Big consumer sales
  • Volume consumer sales

Now think about B2B. What gets focus:

  • Big purchases
  • Big sales
  • Volume purchases
  • Volume sales

If something is big, and it gets focus, there will be a process, both for the buying and the selling. And businesses will get busy trying to optimise those processes, and there are lots of people involved. We have sales people in both B2C and B2B, but given B2B sales are bigger on average, it’s rare for sales to not be very, very involved. We therefore also need to help those sales people do their job.

Of course demand generation is key, but demand generation is a whole lot harder if your brand isn’t already positioned in the categories your products and services sit in. Let’s tie all that together.

So, what is B2B Marketing?

B2B Marketing is the process of planning and executing strategies and campaigns that position your brand in the chosen category(ies) with the businesses most likely to buy, and then creates demand for a well-aligned sales force.

To do that we need to:

  • Agree with Sales what problem you are best-equipped to solve
  • Agree the target market (usually those most affected by that problem)
  • Agree the solution (whatever it takes to fully solve that problem)
  • Agree the velocity (how many deals from how many proposals, from how many…all the way back up the funnel)
  • Agree the campaigns and tactics that will move buyers through your funnel at that rate
  • Measure what’s actually happening and optimise your processes as necessary

Final thoughts

So the best way to agree all of those things with sales, and frankly customer service if needed, is in a Funnel Plan. If you have a Funnel Plan you’ll know what I mean. If you don’t, you can get a free one below. Go there now. Get yourself a free Funnel Plan and get together with your sales counterparts and map out all of those answers. The problem that you’re solving all the way through to the tactic you’re going to use to bring that problem to the surface for your market.

funnel-plan-sales-and-marketing-planning-tool

I’ve got lots more lined up for next week and until then may your funnel be full and always flowing.

Our thanks

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