What is B2B marketing?
With B2B marketing, you’re selling to an organization, which means you are actually interacting and selling to individuals within an organization that must follow buying processes or procedures to purchase your product. The end result is a buying cycle that is often longer and more complex. Depending on the size of organization you are soliciting, there may be:
- Multiple influencers, decision makers and approvals that need to be obtained
- A vendor qualification process
- Longer net payment terms
- Complex budgeting process
- Request for proposal to be completed by multiple competitors
With multiple influencers or stakeholders to decide and approve a purchase, your buying cycle takes more time than what is typical with B2C marketing. Buyers are sophisticated and rational in their approach. Communications must raise awareness, educate, and ensure benefits are articulated clearly around creating value or showing a return on investment (ROI). You must also reach them using tools and methods they use and rely on – websites, mobile devices, related software/product venues, language, events, industry news, analysts they trust, and social/professional networks of colleagues they follow online. Aside from meeting specific needs, references matter as well as implementation if the product or service being considered impacts the buyer’s customers or their larger organization. Furthermore, some buyers may expect their vendors to complete a request for proposal (RFP) to win their business, which also adds time to the buying cycle.
Be patient and build relationships
Understanding who the key stakeholders – influencers and decision makers/approvers – are, however, takes time. The sooner you reach these stakeholders, the shorter you can make your buying cycle. Marketing efforts should help your sales representative target the right people to talk to within the organization, then support that relationship through sales tools such as references, white papers, collateral, articles, and analyst reports as necessary to win the sale. With B2B marketing, your sales representative is an extension of your brand, responsible for cultivating the relationship and inspiring trust.
Are you soliciting an influencer or a decision maker?
Influencers and decision makers can be approached from slightly different angles.
- With influencers, education, raising awareness, and trying to establish a long-term relationship should be your goal. The idea is to turn these people into advocates that will evangelize your offering to the larger organization, sending your newsletters to others or recommending that your products or services be considered by those in their social/professional networks.
- With decision makers, your messaging should concentrate more on creating value or showing a return on eROI. Developing and nurturing relationships with this group is equally important as they may be willing to become references later.
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