Marketing your products to other businesses (B2B) requires a different approach to marketing your products to end-consumers (B2C). Businesses differ from consumers in more than just the volume of product they will order. While end-consumers look for a good deal, businesses look for a good relationship.
B2B and B2C originally referred to electronic commerce, they are now used to describe both online and offline activities. The difference between selling to businesses online and selling to consumers online as that online B2B still requires a traditional sales force to create and build a relationship with customers. An online retailer who sells to consumers might have a website as its sole marketing and sales operation, but an online company that sells to other business needs a sales team consisting of people who are traditionally versed in selling to business clients.
Having established that you need to build relationships with clients both online and offline, what marketing strategies work when selling to businesses? Unlike selling to individual consumers, the target audience for your marketing campaign is smaller and more sophisticated. Advertising copy and website landing pages should cater for people who know all about your product and your competitors, and are shopping with their feet very firmly on the ground. Emotions are less a factor in marketing to businesses, and campaigns that emphasize environmental awareness, for instance, might work well with end-consumers but less well with business clients. Brand loyalty is also less effective. B2C marketing relies heavily on imagery and repetition to build branding, but with B2B, branding might put you on the list of potential suppliers, but not necessarily at the top of the list.
Once again, it all comes back to building relationships. A marketing campaign to consumers will maximize the value of the product, whereas B2B marketing tries to maximize the value of the relationship. Sales cycles are longer when selling to businesses. It is not going to be a one click transaction; it is going to be a long process, involving many people, using a wide variety of communication methods. Marketing to businesses is as much about selling your company as it is about what your company is selling. Clients want to know that you will be there every step of the way and that you will be there after the deal is done.
Providing educational awareness to customers is proving to be popular in B2B retail outlets – DIY videos from hardware stores for instance – because it helps to build a customer relationship. This kind of marketing approach is highly effective in B2B, where the clients are not buying on a whim but making long-term decisions based on a complex set of criteria. Anything you can give them to make their information-gathering easier is going to earn a little gratitude.
Businesses are driven by a completely different set of motivating factors. They look for profitability and long-term growth and are not persuaded by impulse or emotion. Your marketing strategy has to appeal to their needs, and that generally revolves around the benefits, rather than the features. Your customers are pragmatic people and will expect the same of you.
This guest post is courtesy of Kimberly Hill. She is a marketing consultant at Cashier Live. Cashier Live provides point of sale software for small businesses. Whether you're looking to have an easier checkout, analyze checkout data, or find new hardware pieces, Cashier Live is a solution for all your POS hardware and software needs. Try Cashier Live’s POS software free for 30 days.