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What is B2B Marketing? A Complete Guide

Christopher Benitez

Updated September 12, 2022

What is B2B Marketing

Any effective marketing strategy should always start with understanding your target audience.

In the case of B2B marketing, your target audience are businesses (and not individuals). This means that your marketing approach should be tailored to meet the needs of those businesses as you are selling products and services to another business or company, not to an individual customer.

If you want to understand further exactly how B2B marketing works, keep reading.

Here, we will talk about everything you need to know about B2B marketing: what B2B marketing is, how B2B marketing works, and more. We will also dive into B2B marketing strategies, examples, and trends.

What Is B2B Marketing?

B2B or business-to-business marketing is a marketing category focused on marketing to businesses. It stands out from other marketing models because it distributes products and services for general business use or reselling to consumers.

A defining quality of B2B marketing is how a B2B marketer promotes products and services. B2B marketers offer their solutions to customers who know what they want.

This is why B2B marketers create benefit-centric content. Their approach dwells on convincing customers how they can provide life-improving solutions.

Features of B2B promotional methods:

  • Relationship-driven marketing approach
  • Extensive sales cycles of months or years
  • Complex than consumer products and services
  • Large volumes and high dollar value

How Does B2B Marketing Work?

In B2B marketing, the journey begins with identifying a problem or something you want to resolve in your organization. After looking for solutions, you must review candidates before committing to the sale.

The entire goal of B2B marketing is to guide prospects through each step of this process by addressing the following pain point that businesses have before deciding to make a purchase decisions:

  • How your company can help them address their problems
  • Why you’re a better choice than the competition
  • Demonstrating this through campaigns that allow trials or demonstrations of your product and/or service

Additionally, in B2B marketing, multiple decision-makers are in play. When B2B customers purchase products and services, they will only do so after consulting with other critical team members and getting everyone’s buy-in. Usually, it’s a team of account managers, salespeople, and marketing strategists that decides.

It’s rare for a purchase decision to be made before they are able to fully inform themselves about the product or service as well. To that end, businesses also rely heavily on referrals and reviews–and take note reviews influence 90% of B2B purchase decisions.

Below is a table highlighting the striking differences between B2B and B2C marketing.

B2B MarketingB2C Marketing
B2B marketers provide long-term solutions, financial incentives, and unique valueB2C marketers provide entertainment
B2B customers choose offers based on efficiency, quality, and ROIB2C customers choose offers based on deals, affordability, and instant gratification
B2B customers need information and education, and won’t proceed with a purchase without theseB2C customers appreciate information and education, but will proceed with a purchase without these

What Is B2B Marketing For?

The entire intent of B2B marketing is to move your company’s bottom line. B2B marketing strategies are therefore geared towards:

  • Building awareness – Increasing business visibility and widening your reach can help you generate more B2B customers. The idea is to propose your solution to prospects and persuade these people that what you have is a viable and better alternative to their current ones.
  • Generating leads and prospects – Collect as much information as you can about prospects to know how to win them over. Once you reach out to them, coordinate with sales to qualify them and see how likely they are to take you up on your offer.
  • Driving traffic to your website to educate more consumers – Write compelling web copy to let consumers know what your business can do. By distributing valuable information, you can establish an authoritative name for your business.
  • Improving rankings – Getting on Google’s first page is hard but doable. But landing there will ramp up exposure to your business.
  • Bring down customer churn by solidifying relationships – After understanding the factors that cause existing customers to consider options other than your business. Then proactively around this by improving communication with your best customers.

Typical industries that leverage B2B marketing for growth and revenue are healthcare, eCommerce, and technology (especially the financial technology and biotechnology spheres). That said, B2B isn’t specific to any field or industry. As long as you intend to cater to another business, then you can use B2B marketing techniques and strategies.

What Are the Typical B2B Marketing Channels?

Here are typical B2B marketing channels:

  • Email – Using the best email marketing software to launch effective email marketing campaigns can educate and inform core customers. And working towards creating high-level email content that establishes your authority and credibility in your niche is key here. 
  • Content – B2B customers value sound reasoning, thought-provoking pieces, and logical statements. They also pay attention to information from expert sources.
  • Social Media – 75% of B2B customers use social media to research before making a purchase. They go through social media posts, read comments, listen to public opinion, and more.
  • Conferences/Trade Shows – Webinars, VIP dinners, road shows, and other online and offline events are common channels marketers use to generate sales. At these events, they can build professional relationships, discuss challenges, and explain how a solution can address a problem.
  • Direct mail – Businesses who send mail regularly suggest they care about their customers. And true enough, the people receiving mail report feeling more valued. It creates a two-way relationship between a business and its customer.
  • Display/retargeting – Re-engaging visitors is effective. Studies show that retargeting converts 50% of website traffic. And considering most visitors leave without converting, this statistic shouldn’t be ignored.
  • Field marketing – Field marketers are proficient in sales and marketing. They can put your brand in front of people and highlight how it can offer a unique solution.
  • Outbound calling – Also known as B2B telemarketing, outbound calling can fuel the lead generation process. And with well-trained sales reps, your outbound sales strategy will raise revenue.
  • Paid search/PPC – B2B keywords may be costly. But most B2B enterprises are known to turn to search engines for new content.
  • Partner marketing – Having a B2B partner (or a business partner with a highly engaged audience of their own) can encourage you to reach goals faster. They can help introduce you to their customer base and compensate for any weak aspects in your marketing .
  • Word-of-mouth/referrals – Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful customer acquisition methods. Because B2B decisions involve multiple people, it’s typical for B2B customers to seek opinions via word of mouth.

B2B Marketing Strategies

  1. Research – It helps a brand to get to know its customers and allows them to serve them better. It also gives them insight into what their consumers need and can help identify what pain points your product or service can offer.
  2. Niche-Driven Campaigns – Positioning your brand as an authority in a particular niche highlights specialized skills and expertise that define why you stand out from the competition.
  3. Creating a high-performance website – For visibility and information, it’s important to establish a brand presence online. It also helps in gaining respect and highlighting professionalism.
  4. SEO – Increasing organic traffic and ranking places your brand in front of your target audiences.
  5. Social Media – Establishing a strong presence on social media platforms can bring additional exposure to your brand and leave a positive impact on people. Setting realistic goals, using multimedia combined with enticing copy, and spotlighting aspects of your brand are examples of social media marketing strategies worth using.
  6. Advertising (both online and traditional) – It helps to reach out to business employees who make purchase decisions.
  7. Referral marketing – Focus on your satisfied customers and encourage them to recommend your brand to key players and decision-makers.
  8. CRM and Lead Nurturing – After identifying your goal, identify the leads you want to nurture. Then cater to these leads based on their stage in the buyer journey. It’s crucial in increasing lead conversion rates and speeding up your sales cycles.
  9. Testing and Optimization – Use the best marketing automation software to streamline your campaigns. One of the best ways to do this is to use an A/B split test to determine how your target audience will receive your efforts.
  10. On-ground Events – Allow your target audience to have a first-hand experience of your brand’s solutions. Not only does it attract them, but it also improves engagement.

B2B Marketing Examples

Here are notable B2B marketing examples:

Amazon Business: eCommerce for B2B Organizations

Amazon.com may be a well-known leader in B2C (business to consumer) e-commerce. But they also have a B2B arm–Amazon Business.

What is B2B marketing example: Amazon Business

Amazon Business’ value proposition is to offer other businesses a buying solution for their registered businesses, no matter what size they are. Everything, from tools to automating approval workflows to janitorial supplies, is available on Amazon Business.

Therefore, a big part of their marketing strategy focuses on the benefits of their services, including price savings and shipping options, payment variety, and incredible benefits it provides for smaller businesses.

word image 147449 2

The latter is a big focus because they know that smaller enterprises are more likely to use the platform versus multinational corporations.

Reasons that make it an excellent B2B marketing example:

  • Provides a massive platform for B2B wholesale retailers and manufacturers to reach their target market while leveraging on Amazon’s technology (hyper-personalization, offer and promotions, etc.)
  • Offers a wealth of information and resources to help their target market decide on whether to join the platform via its Amazon Business Newsletters, on-demand webinars, free virtual events, and customer success stories.
  • Uses thought leadership to promote and build credibility to B2B sellers by creating content on websites and third-party publications.

Shopify: Ecommerce Company With An A+ Content Marketing Approach

Shopify Homepage

Shopify is an eCommerce platform that helps everyone create an online store. It accommodates solopreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses in all categories.

It effectively attracts and engages B2B customers through content. It knows content marketing is king, and it’s a rockstar producer of different content types like blogs, community events, and courses. It connects to people through high-quality content with laudable consistency.

A B2B company that used Shopify is Death Wish Coffee, a supplier of “the world’s strongest coffee” to major grocers. However, when it started to scale, it encountered fulfillment issues and a barrage of negative customer complaints.

To achieve success, it used Shopify Plus to sell products through multiple channels and geared up for a massive spike in traffic after it aired a commercial for the Super Bowl. As a result, it generated $250,000 in sales, a 200% top-line growth, and more.

Reasons that make it an excellent B2B marketing example:

  • Shopify’s content is valuable, entertaining, and 100% free.
  • It’s organized, consistent, and reliable — values that customers appreciate.
  • Its podcast, Shopify Masters, is outstanding and beloved by entrepreneurs. It features timeless stories and advice that motivate business-minded groups.
  • It offers excellent online security. This is a big deal for businesses that want a safe experience online.

Mailchimp: Email Marketing Service Provider With An A+ Digital Marketing Strategy

Mailchimp homepage

Mailchimp is an email service provider that helps businesses make the most out of email marketing. It’s the epitome of customer-centric marketing — demonstrating how it values customers and can create personalized content for each customer.

One of the ways it reaches businesses is through the informative articles on its website. Here, you’ll find a Marketing Library where it educates other businesses about the value of not just email but marketing in general.

Reasons that make it an excellent B2B marketing example:

  • It grants a “Forever Free” account that taps into content marketing to educate businesses and magnetize new users.
  • It possesses multiple social media accounts.
  • It has a stellar support team and a commendable Knowledge Base.
  • It has a visually appealing and easy-to-use website.
  • Its web copy focuses on a customer’s pain points.

Blackbaud: Cloud Computing Company With An A+ Referral Program

word image 147449 5 1

Blackbaud is a global company that provides cloud computing solutions. Its targets are businesses in the industries of healthcare, finance, education, and other businesses that use cloud computing services. What makes it outstanding is that apart from being in the cloud computing business, it’s also invested in doing social good.

Blackbaud Champions, its referral program, is nothing short of exemplary. It’s all about giving out significant and irresistible rewards — something that adds a positive ring to the company’s brand.

Reasons that make it an excellent B2B marketing example:

  • It rewards product advocates with exclusive benefits such as complimentary passes, discounts, VIP experiences, and gift cards. Such significant rewards entice others to participate.
  • It has an organized structure, which reflects strongly on its online reputation — an area important in referral marketing.
  • It targets people who share the same mission: people who want to do good for others.

B2B Marketing Trends

Here are B2B marketing trends to watch out for:

  • Retention Marketing – Building lasting relationships with current customers can empower brand loyalty, improve lifetime value, and increase sales.
  • Using Interactive Content – With the increasing distribution of content, you need to stand out if you want to stay relevant as a content creator. By creating interactive content, you’re not only taking an actionable step to outperform your competition, but you’re also working to raise awareness and increase engagement.
  • Use of Chatbots – Chatbots can strengthen your marketing strategies, especially where lead generation and qualification is concerned. They can gather useful customer information, then transfer this information to a salesperson who can engage leads and raise sales.
  • Nostalgia Marketing – Associating your brand with positive concepts from the past is an excellent way of evoking emotions. Customers love positivity and your goal is to make that love work for you.
  • Voice Marketing – There’s a growing market demand for smart devices (and devices you can talk to) such as smart speakers and voice assistants. By using voice marketing, you can be a part of this market.
  • Developing Thought-Leadership Content – Thought-leadership content inspires, encourages, and motivates. It also establishes rapport, fosters relatability, and commands respect.
  • Aligning Sales and Marketing Strategies – Aligned sales and marketing departments is integral to organizational success. To ensure this, you can use strategies such as setting aside marketing (KPIs) Key Performance Indicators and leading subordinates with compassion and empathy.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget to measure the (ROI) return on investment for your B2B marketing activities. True — sometimes, measuring ROI can be challenging. For example, if you’re tracking intangible results, the process can be arduous.

But because the ability to measure your ROI is essential, you need to figure out a way to make the process less burdensome.

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Christopher Benitez

Christopher Jan Benitez is a freelance writer who specializes in the digital marketing field. His work has been published on SEO and affiliate marketing-specific niches like Monitor Backlinks, Niche Pursuits, Web Hosting Secret Revealed, and others.

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