The Ins and Outs of B2B Marketing
In this long-form guide, we’ll walk through some of the major components of B2B marketing. We’ll also share lots of resources that go deeper into the topic of marketing in a complex and nuanced arena.
From crafting the perfect message to reaching the right audience, there’s a lot that goes into a B2B marketing plan. Tears For Fears said it best: “It’s a very very mad world.”
But that’s not to say B2B marketing is impossible to manage. Quite the contrary! If you’re willing to look at things from a different perspective, you’ll find it’s more of a puzzle than anything else. Finding the right pieces takes time, but once you’ve got them in your sights, you’ll watch profits soar as the puzzle gratifyingly clicks into place.
Of course, this is easier said than done. B2B marketing is no simple subject, and encapsulates a wide variety of working parts to make the flywheel go round.
Whether you’re jumping into the field for the first time or just looking for a refresher, knowing the ins and outs of B2B marketing is critical for making it big. Let’s break this down into smaller pieces and make things more accessible, walking through what B2B marketing is, what it does, and the channels and employees it requires to succeed.
What is B2B marketing?
Before we launch into the more complicated elements of B2B marketing, it would help to understand exactly what it means in context.
B2B marketing focuses on business to business sales. It targets other companies with specific products or services, and sells exclusively to enterprises and SMBs.
There are a couple of major differences to note between B2B and B2C:
- B2C focuses on selling to customers. B2B focuses on selling to businesses.
- B2C has more competition but shorter lead times. B2B has less competition and longer lead times.
- B2C markets to the individual. B2B markets to decision makers, often more than one.
Most companies using B2B marketing fall into one of three industries: finance, technology, or communications. There are others, but the vast majority of brands in this space fall into the big three. Think of major corporations like Slack (communications), Asana (technology), and Paylocity (finance).
While B2B is a great catch-all for companies that don’t sell straight to consumers, there are other subcategories to keep in mind. One of these includes B2D marketing, or business to developer marketing. This generally consists of brands that sell directly to developers or development companies, including companies like Snipcart.
Another subsection of B2B includes B2G, or business to government strategies. These are usually contractually based and have specific requirements depending on their field or niche. Companies like Senseware highlight this well, providing a unified IoT platform to multiple government organizations.
Lastly, we have B2NPO; a longer acronym that stands for business to nonprofit industries. This is a highly specific field that requires a very unique approach to market. For example, Dot Drive’s donor management platform targets nonprofits and 501(c)(3) organizations only.
Each of these three subcategories operate similarly under the B2B marketing umbrella. However, each strategy should be tailored to individual niches and final audiences – an important element of any successful plan.
The fundamentals of B2B marketing
Like a conductor orchestrating a symphony, your business to business marketing plan has the power to transform siloed processes into a coherent piece. Understanding how your customers, buyers, and users play into this funnel is fundamental, especially as they travel through the buyer’s journey.
The B2B buyer’s journey usually looks something like this:
- Pain Points: Users are experiencing a problem that is inhibiting their ability to work or function properly.
- Problem-Solving: Users are searching for solutions online, usually at the highest possible level.
- Expectations: Users begin to make a list of everything they need (or don’t need) from their solution.
- Validation: Users discuss their chosen set of solutions with all members of their team, department, or business.
- Purchase Decision: Users purchase your product, tool, or platform.
The journey from pain point to purchase is considerably longer for B2B than B2C. If B2B SaaS gets involved, things might become even more complex.
As you can see, there are lots of moving parts to consider in B2B, including multiple persons who need to be consulted before finalizing your marketing strategy. This requires a unique approach to market, particularly one that romances your target audience with specific, actionable marketing content.
Here’s where you might want to begin:
- Niche your B2B market into a smaller subsection, if possible. Are you more of a B2D or a B2G enterprise? Research and adjust accordingly. This will simplify many of your future tasks (especially picking an audience).
- Create an extremely detailed target audience, including demographics, psychographics, and associated pain points. It might be helpful to create some target personas as well. Remember: the target audience you choose directly affects your marketing efforts.
- Look for competitors in your field who sell similar products or services. Additionally, determine what your company does differently from others. What can you do that they cannot? You may want to perform a competitive analysis to get a better birds’ eye view.
- Pick your marketing channels carefully. Not everything makes sense for you to use, as the channels you pick are directly associated with the platforms your customers prefer. Consider LinkedIn, GitHub, and direct approaches with owned channels (websites and emails).
As we mentioned earlier, multiple channels are required to get a B2B marketing plan off the ground. And regardless of your niche or industry, they’re going to involve a healthy dose of pre-planning.
Your marketing channels have the potential to make or break your B2B marketing strategy. But that isn’t to give you analysis paralysis – it’s to encourage you to pick the best options possible.
There are five major channels recommended to the average B2B: content, advertising, events, cold outreach, and partnerships. While you may not use (or need) all of them, you may want to explore adding two or three to the stack.
Let’s dive into the details, shall we?
Content is arguably the most important B2B marketing channel – and we’re not just saying that, either. More than 90% of B2B marketers believe content is their most valuable marketing asset, and thereby their most valuable marketing channel.
B2B content marketing has some impressive statistics:
- (60% of people](https://www.demandmetric.com/content/content-marketing-infographic) consider buying or asking about products after consuming related content.
- Businesses that blog have 67% more leads than those that do not.
- Roughly 3 in 5 of the most successful B2B marketers have a documented content plan.
Keep in mind that B2B content marketing does come with a price tag. The most successful campaigns take about 40% of their marketing budget – so prepare to allocate your funds accordingly.
Targeting prospects with ads on their favorite channels is instrumental to finding new leads.
This can be done in a number of ways:
- YouTube ads for targeted customers
- Hashtag programs to find leads
- Standard banner or dynamic ads
An ads budget can be as large or as small as you’d like, granting plenty of wiggle room for startup brands.
Webinars, trade shows, and conferences are just a few examples of B2B events. This channel allows you to meet prospects and leads in a professional environment, proving plenty of brand awareness and WOM as well.
With an average ROI of 5:1 ($5 for every $1 spent), this is a strategy worth considering for any niche.
One of the cheapest channels on the list, cold outreach involves manually calling, emailing, or LinkedIn messaging prospects about your services. While the success rate might be low, it still has the potential to pay off in spades.
Today, 82% of buyers still accept cold call meetings. Keep that in mind if you move forward with this strategy.
Partnerships and marketplaces
Choosing to partner with another major player may be just the boost your brand was looking for. Statistics continue to show that solid partnerships actually increase profits for both parties.
If you decide to make multiple marketplace partnerships, you’ll be in good company. More than 90% of B2B executives expect to rely more on partnerships, 63% of them working hand-in-hand with startups and other ventures.
The people of B2B
It takes a village to keep a B2B marketing strategy on its feet. Let’s explore a few of these ‘villagers’ below, including what to do if you need high volume work.
There are (quite literally) thousands of different marketing titles floating around the B2B space. Thankfully, all you need to know are their duties and general responsibilities.
The most important roles in B2B marketing include:
- Head of marketing: The acting head of the B2B marketing department.
- Head of content: In charge of producing B2B content marketing.
- Head of growth: Focused on scaling your company over time.
- Product marketing specialist: Specifically markets products by developing a solid position.
- Developer relations: Helping to create positive buzz if you’re a B2D.
The hiring process for B2B marketing is always an interesting one. If you don’t have the capacity for a full time hire, here’s nothing wrong with sourcing freelancers or agencies – if you choose the right ones, that is.
Working with an agency
B2B content marketing is a complex process that expands organic reach with expert articles, research, tutorials, and more. Freelance writers and marketers are a decent choice for low volume work, but if you’re looking to time the market faster, it may be more beneficial to look for an agency in your industry.
If you happen to work in a technical or software-oriented vertical, Draft.dev can help. We create blog posts, tutorials, and other content aimed at technical decision makers, helping interested parties find your brand and its UVP.
Navigating the complexity of B2B marketing
In case we haven’t mentioned it enough already: B2B marketing is complicated. Not only is it recognized the world over for being cumbersome to manage, but its extremely specific methodology may be an obstacle to those newer to the field.
The complexity of B2B marketing requires a host of working parts. Combining the right people with the right channels equips you to go much farther, especially if you align yourself with third party marketers with experience in the field.
- B2B marketing varies wildly. Your business’s strategy will look different from everyone elses’, so don’t be afraid to adjust your game plan accordingly.
- B2B marketing takes time to implement. Set a realistic timeline that works with your company’s size and reach.
- B2B can’t be completed in a vacuum. Find the right hires for the right positions, and move forward from there.
As you build trust with multiple stakeholders, try leaning on the experience of others to get up to speed. You might want to find a business mentor with the time and bandwidth for guiding you through the learning process. Keep yourself aligned with marketing startup checklists and other resources that provide groundwork for growth. Above all, don’t be afraid to outsource certain processes as you grow.
If you’re curious to learn more about B2B marketing from a content perspective, we’d love to chat. Book a time to discuss how our subject matter experts may be able to help.
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