Best Practice Toolkits
B2B (Business to Business) Marketers have many of the same concerns as B2C (Business to Consumer) Marketers: product development, distribution, branding and promotion. As well, the line between B2C and B2B often blurs--Dell Computers, for instance, successfully markets to both audiences. Yet there are real differences, especially when the product or service on offer has a high price tag that entails a considered, and often extended sales process. So instead of a $1 bar of soap sold to a consumer in a supermarket, the B2B marketer is selling industrial machinery for over $100,000. Or million dollar ad campaigns. Before a buyer is going to make that kind of investment, they’re going to need to be sure that the product (or service) will improve the organization’s productivity, agility/time to market, or reduce costs.
How is B2B marketing to companies or organizations different from marketing to consumers?
- Products and services can represent a significant investment
- Products and services are often complex, requiring a steep learning curve
- The evaluation process can be extensive, perhaps including an “RFP” (“Request for Proposals”) or “RFQ” (“Request for Quotations”)
- Often multiple individuals from different departments and/or levels in the organization will be involved in the purchasing decision
- Every industry segment has its own jargon, thought leaders, and cultural conventions that need to be respected
Evolution of B2B Marketing
Before the rise of the Internet and social media, the B2B marketer’s job was a lot simpler. In fact, often, marketing was charged with doing nothing more than “air cover”: branding and collateral, PR, advertising and trade events. For the most part, the sales team found and developed their own marketing leads--through connections, on the golf course, or by cold calling into target accounts. For high ticket items, a well-compensated local salesperson would spend months educating the buyer and developing the case for the purchase. They understood that they had to develop a relationship of trust with the sales lead and provide the right information at the right time in the buyinig process. That’s a lot of golf!
Now fast forward to the Internet age. We’ve got Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, and most especially we have Google: the font of all knowledge and the disrupter of the traditional B2B purchasing process. With the advent of the Internet, the behavior of buyers—the way they identify, understand, evaluate, and buy products—has fundamentally changed. The change has led to a revolution in B2B marketing tactics, actually making the B2B marketing function much more important to the B2B sales process. In fact, digital marketers have taken responsibility for broad swaths of the relationship building that sales people used to do face-to-face. They’re tracking “digital body language” and using data-driven methods to identify qualified leads, provide them with the information they need, and then determine the exact moment to pass the lead over to sales. Only then will a sales person have the chance to meet the prospect and close the sale.
Today B2B marketing experts participate in all stages of the sales process:
- Engage the market using digital channels including email marketing, web and social media marketing
- Identifying prospects via their digital body language and performing contact profiling and segmentation
- Nurturing “hand raisers” with relevant, targeted messaging that moves them along the evaluation process
- Understanding the signals that indicate when a buyer is ready to speak with a sales person and facilitating that hand-off
- Providing sales with the tools they need to demonstrate the value of the product/service
- Tracking each marketing activity at every point in the sales process to understand which marketing activities are actually driving revenue
Where does B2B marketing go from here?
So what’s next? Now that B2B marketing is seen to be a valuable part of the organization that is directly contributing to the revenue stream, you will see more and more marketing and sales alignment between Sales and Marketing. Sales people will see the value in developing new skills like analyzing the “digital body language” of their contacts and crafting mini-B2B marketing campaigns into their territories. Sales people will become the newest marketers! At many organizations the two, historically distant, camps of Sales and Marketing will merge into a single organization.
Online marketing professionals discuss what it takes to moves from good to great content marketing programs in this Internet marketing testimonial videoeo.
Learn how B2B lead management automation can improve your company's annual revenue with this downloadable Aberdeen Group white paper from Eloqua.
The 10-platform, 42-page Eloqua Social Media Playbook was created as a veritable “how-to” guide for our staff to follow on the social Web. It’s frankly everything we know about social media marketing.
When I visited each Eloqua office to conduct the Social Media Workshop, someone asked: If you could only use three social media platforms, which would you pick? My answer was: 1) The Corporate Blog
When Sales & Marketing share one-view of the business, the result is accelerated revenue generation.