In this article you will learn what B2B marketing is and how it relates to the appearance and purpose of the content you produce. You’ll also learn what makes B2B businesses different from B2C businesses, and how to ensure you’re addressing this distinction in your marketing.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing, or business-to-business marketing, is the marketing of services or products to other businesses. Some examples of B2B markets are software, office supplies, customer service representatives, information security, and more. Think of it as a company hiring another company to help them with a specific task that they may not have the resources to do in-house.
Some examples of successful B2B companies are:
- Q Cells
- General Electric
What are the differences between B2B and B2C?
It’s important to note the difference between B2B and business to customer, or B2C. Where B2B is marketing and selling products or services to only other businesses, B2C is selling only to customers not affiliated with any businesses. In other words, instead of a business or organization being the customer, the individual is the customer.
Some examples of successful B2C businesses are:
However, sometimes these companies, such as Microsoft, will serve both B2B and B2C markets.
What are the core differences between B2B and B2C content marketing?
The core differences between B2B content marketing and B2C content marketing lies in the needs of the audience one is addressing and how to market to them specifically. Here’s a breakdown of these differences:
Audience: A B2B audience is generally businesses therefore a B2B company’s website will display content that shows expertise and higher return on investment, or ROI, to the customer. Since a B2C audience is generally an individual customer, its marketing will try to be more appealing to a customer searching for a deal or making an emotional purchase.
Content & Structure: B2B content is focused on enticing businesses to educate themselves on a specific topic and develop trust that translates into sales. Meaning, they’ll want to have B2B content that feels catered towards their specific educational needs. Having content that reflects those needs puts your business in the position to solve customer challenges and build a relationship. When structuring B2C content, customers prefer less industry jargon and formality than a B2B site. It’s less about the ROI and more on the transformational process that the product provides. B2C customers will also prefer a ‘fun factor’ and will gravitate towards marketing experiences that provide entertainment. On the other hand, B2B can be content that is informative and educational.
Buying Cycle: In the B2B industry the sale, or buying cycle, is longer than a B2C sale. B2B selling cycles are long and complex because there are multiple stakeholders, and the business’ need to come to a collective decision amongst its members. In B2C, the buying cycle mainly relies on a single customer’s decision. Yes, depending on the product’s price, multiple stakeholders can be involved in the buying decision. However, this is generally less complex than in B2B. Lastly, B2B customers are usually dedicated to a company for a longtime, as opposed to a B2C buying cycle that can be sporadic or event based.
How does content marketing fit into B2B?
Content marketing is the act of sharing online content such as blogs, social media posts, and/or videos to build an audience and generate interest in a product or service. In B2B content marketing, this circulation of media takes on additional meaning as it builds a relationship with an audience in addition to generating leads. It’s mainly due to the B2B industry having long buying cycles and multiple decision makers. For already engaged customers, this creates a sense of authority and trust. For incoming customers, content marketing can show that a B2B site is engaged with the community, knowledgeable in their field, and dedicated to educating customers. In a B2B environment, content marketing is used to capture the attention of new leads but also to continue engaging existing leads.
How to Start a B2B Marketing Campaign
To start a B2B marketing campaign, you will need to take several steps. Each campaign has its own expectations, goals, desired outcomes, and tactical plan. It’s important to think clearly and thoroughly about what the desired outcome is to be, in order to create a strategy that produces results.
Understand your audience. The first thing you’ll want to do is discover and define who your target audience is. Consider the following criteria:
- Company Size
- Department Size
- Position Title
Define your campaign goals and expected outcomes. It’s very important to understand the goals and expected outcomes of a project. It will enable your B2B marketing campaign to be successful, and for you to choose the necessary tactical steps to reach those goals.
Define the marketing channels to reach your campaign goals. A few channels would be:
- SEO Content
- Thought-Leadership Content
- Content Downloads
- Paid Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Media Campaigns
- Social Media Marketing
In your B2B marketing campaign, you can choose a mix of Inbound and Outbound Marketing approaches. Both of these approaches have a place in your marketing strategy; however at MTC | The Content Agency, we work with Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is a popular approach for a B2B marketing campaign. Overall, the goal is to attract website traffic, customer interest, and leads to your company brand. The opposite approach would be Outbound Marketing, which is a more traditional direct marketing approach that goes directly to the customer to convert them. For example, cold outbound emails are still a popular marketing tactic for outbound marketing. Inbound Marketing is very popular because it’s more affordable over time and yields a higher customer conversion rate.
Now that you have a broader understanding of B2B marketing, you can be more successful in building an audience and developing an audience for your B2B business. At its core, B2B marketing is always about attracting a defined audience that has the intent to buy your product or service.