Senior Writer: Rohit Rajpal
B2B marketing is the process of promoting products and services to other businesses. B2B marketers showcase how their products and services fit into a company’s overall strategy and how they benefit the customer’s bottom line.
B2B sales cycles tend to be longer and more complex than those in the consumer space. In fact, according to Geckoboard, the average sales cycle length is 102 days. Therefore, B2B marketers need to plan their entire marketing strategy efficiently, from finding leads to nurturing and converting them.
In this blog, we will discuss what business-to-business marketing is, how it works, and look at some prominent examples. We’ll also talk about B2B marketing best practices and how you can create a B2B marketing strategy. Let’s get started!
What is B2B Marketing?
B2B marketing is defined as the process of selling a business product or service to other businesses. In addition, B2B marketing involves creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers with promotional activities, campaigns, and strategies.
B2B marketing consists of four key areas: lead generation, account-based marketing (ABM), demand generation, and content marketing.
B2B vs. B2C Marketing: What is the Key Differences?
B2B marketing is different from B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing because it targets buyers within an organization instead of individuals. While some B2B marketing tactics are similar to those used in B2C, others are unique to the target audience.
In other words, the key difference between B2B vs. B2C Marketing is that the former involves a company selling its products or services directly to other businesses instead of consumers. B2C marketing is when a company sells its products or services directly to consumers.
For example, Amazon is a B2C company that sells its products directly to customers via its website and app. However, Alibaba is a B2B company that sells products to wholesalers and dealers (who then sell those products on Amazon or other marketplaces).
Since the target audiences are different, the marketing strategies also differ. For instance, in B2C, only one decision maker is involved. Therefore, creating FOMO can help trigger instinct buying and generate sales.
However, the buying process for business buyers can be much more complex than that for consumers. They may have to deal with procurement departments or large budgets, for example, and those factors can influence their buying decisions differently than they do for consumers.
Therefore, when marketing to B2B, you need to consider these factors in your strategy.
How Does B2B Marketing Work?
Now that you know the key differences between B2B vs. B2C Marketing, let’s understand how B2B marketing works. The working process of B2B marketing involves finding the right prospects and nurturing them throughout the buyer’s journey. You can find leads via cold calling, digital marketing (including running PPC campaigns), and references.
When nurturing leads, you first must highlight the pain points your products and services can solve. One way to do that is by creating relevant content for each stage of the buyer’s journey to nurture leads and move them down the funnel. You can then share the content as blogs on your website, send emails to prospects, or create videos.
What are the Benefits of B2B Marketing?
The primary benefits of B2B marketing include improved brand awareness, better trust among buyers, enhanced search engine rankings, and more traffic to your website. Whether you’re just starting or are a seasoned marketer, these benefits of B2B marketing make all the efforts worth it.
1. Generate Leads
At the heart of B2B marketing strategies is generating leads via multiple marketing channels. The goal is to get potential customers interested in your product or service so they can be nurtured and converted into paying customers.
The leads are then passed on to the sales teams for further follow-up and targeting. The more qualified leads you generate, the higher the chances of sales.
2. Increase Brand Awareness
Customers are more likely to buy from you when they know your brand and product offerings. When marketing to B2B, you can use the following tactics to increase brand awareness:
- Advertising campaigns on search engines and social media platforms (such as LinkedIn and Twitter)
- Enhancing online presence through search engine optimization (SEO)
- Sponsoring business events in your industry
3. Build Trust Among Businesses
As mentioned above, B2B often has high-ticket sales and thus requires approval from multiple decision-makers. The easiest and best way to build trust? Marketing!
Therefore, when marketing to B2B, you must focus on providing valuable information and helpful resources. Think of how valuable it is to have a conversation with someone who has solutions to your problems via resources (content) or a product. That’s what B2B marketing can help do!
4. Get an Edge Over Your Competitors
As mentioned above, B2B marketing is a great way to build relationships with your customers and generate trust. For instance, with social media marketing, you can connect with potential buyers in a way impossible through traditional advertising methods like print ads or telemarketing.
You can learn about their pain points better and offer a personalized service to increase conversion chances. In addition, when marketing to B2B, you should involve competitive analysis to identify their lacking areas and use them to your advantage.
5. Improve Your Website Rankings
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a strategy that helps ensure your website appears higher up in search results when someone searches for products or services like yours. In other words, it empowers you to get in front of the right people at the right time!
When you implement the right marketing strategies, you can significantly improve your website rankings, thereby boosting brand awareness and generating more leads.
5 Effective B2B Marketing Strategies
B2B marketing is about reaching key decision makers of your target audience. B2B marketing strategies involve both traditional marketing and digital marketing.
Here are five B2B marketing strategies to help you reach your business buyers.
Social media, particularly LinkedIn, is one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with your customers, who can be valuable sources of feedback and content creation. You can also run LinkedIn ads to reach more B2B customers and enhance your social media presence.
2. Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach existing and potential customers. However, to make the most out of email marketing strategy, you must reach out to the decision-makers, not just any employee. You can use tools like Snov.io or Clearout to find email addresses within a company.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the most effective B2B marketing strategies. The strategy involves creating and sharing valuable, relevant, consistent content to attract a targeted audience. Blogs, eBooks, thought leadership, and videos can help build a strong brand image and increase awareness as they provide information that your target audience needs.
4. Paid Search
Run Google ads to highlight your products and services when your target audience searches for relevant terms. Apart from generating leads, it will also help you boost your brand awareness.
5. Seminars and Webinars
Lastly, seminars and webinars are a great way to promote your products and services. You can consider sponsoring the seminar if your budget allows it. If not, you can visit the event, network with potential customers, and exchange contact information so you can connect later.
5 Steps to Develop a B2B Marketing Strategy?
Good B2B marketing strategies involve creating a buyer’s journey map, understanding your audience, defining your marketing goals, identifying the right channels, and measuring performance.
Let’s dig deeper into the steps!
Step1: Create a Buyer’s Journey Map
B2B marketing strategies begin with creating a buyer’s journey map. The foundation of B2B marketing shows how your target audience progresses through the buying process, from awareness to purchase. You can use this map to create the right messages at each stage to help move them along their journey toward purchase.
Step2: Understand Your Audience
Understanding your audience is vital to marketing to B2B companies. Here are some things to consider:
- Which roles do the decision-makers hold in the company?
- What are their pain points?
- How can your product solve those problems?
- How long do they spend researching products before making a selection?
- Would they be willing to spend on your product?
Step 3: Define Your Marketing Goals
Define the goals you want to achieve via marketing. The most common B2B marketing goals are:
- Generate high-quality leads
- Drive more organic traffic to the website
- Improve brand awareness
- Increase brand equity
You can have more than one goal, but define how you will measure their success for each goal.
Step 4: Identify Marketing Channels
As mentioned above, you will need multiple channels when marketing to B2B to generate better results. However, you must first identify the right channels to help your business grow.
One way to determine that is by doing a competitive analysis. Check what channels your competitors use and what drives better results.
That said, here are the most common B2B online marketing channels.
- Search engine optimization
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Paid search
- Virtual events and webinars
- Video Marketing
- Partner marketing
- Referral programs
Step 5: Create a Clear Roadmap for Execution
A detailed roadmap is essential when marketing to B2B as it can help you generate a higher ROI. It’s also a great way to keep everyone on the same page, so everyone knows where they stand in the process and what’s coming next.
However, you must involve your marketing teams in creating this roadmap so they can contribute their knowledge and enhance your strategy.
It also helps all stakeholders work together, ensures that the right people are involved in making decisions, and saves time by outlining key milestones down the road.
B2B Marketing Best Practices
Like any other marketing strategy, B2B marketing strategies also require following certain best practices to get the best results. Let’s look at them.
1. Create Your Buyer Persona
Creating a buyer persona is the first and foremost step in marketing to B2B. Your buyer persona is a composite picture of the people who buy from your business and the reasons they do.
It’s not enough to know what they need; you need to understand why they’re buying from you, how your product or service fits into their companies and how it benefits them. This is critical as it will help shape all of your marketing decisions.
2. Focus On Digital Marketing Channels
While traditional advertising methods are still valuable, they’re not as cost-effective as digital marketing.
Besides, B2B online marketing is easier to measure. Because digital campaigns are based around website traffic and customer data, it’s much easier to measure the marketing ROI.
In contrast, many traditional offline channels, such as print ads, rely on things like ad impressions instead of actual conversions, making them harder for marketers to measure accurately under the hood.
Therefore, ensure your marketing team is trained for digital marketing as well.
Understanding that not all social media channels are perfect for B2B marketing is crucial. For instance, LinkedIn and Twitter can generate better results than Facebook and Instagram (although they are perfect for B2C marketing).
When marketing to B2B, ensure your content is relevant and valuable. Social media users aren’t bombarded by sales pitches or self-promotion. Instead, they want to learn something new or get answers to questions. Therefore, make sure you understand your audience when leveraging social media.
You can even leverage marketing automation software to automate posting and generating leads via social media.
4. Make Content King (and Queen, and Prince, and Princess)
Content is king. It’s the source of all your leads, meaning you should create content for every step of the buyer journey.
Create educational content on your product or service to educate your target audience about what they need to know before making a purchase decision. You can also use this content to nurture existing relationships with prospects.
Additionally, provide them value through free tools or resources (whenever possible) they can use regardless of whether they buy from you today.
5. Make SEO a Priority
Did you know that 49% of B2B buyers say they use Google to find a new item or product?
Without SEO, there is a very high probability that they’d go to your competitors who are doing it. With SEO, you not only drive inbound traffic but also improve your brand awareness and build trust with customers.
It is worth noting that content marketing plays a huge role in SEO, but it is not the only factor. You must make your website user-friendly and mobile-friendly, speed up, improve technical SEO, and gather backlinks to get desired results.
B2B Marketing Examples
While there are thousands of B2B companies, there are only a few who make their presence felt via robust marketing strategies. And we can take inspiration from them to enhance our brand identity online (and offline). Let’s look at the best B2B marketing examples.
HubSpot is a B2B software company that helps businesses market their products and services online, so they’re experts at driving leads with inbound marketing. Their approach to inbound marketing is based on content.
They write blog posts, white papers, ebooks, and other resources that educate people about the industry and how to use their products or services. Then they share those resources with prospects via email and social media.
This is a great B2B strategy because it gives prospects an incentive to learn more about your company and its offerings without requiring them to fill out a form or submit any personal information.
Their B2B marketing strategy is focused on driving awareness and brand recognition. Slack strives to make itself the top choice in its field by raising awareness of what its product does for businesses, i.e., improving internal communication and transparency. For Slack to achieve this goal, they use a variety of tactics such as:
- Email marketing
- Paid ads and retargeting
- Social media marketing
The last one on our B2B marketing examples list is Cisco. Its B2B strategy is to go after specific roles with specific needs. They don’t just sell products; they help their customers solve problems by providing solutions that are tailored to customers’ needs.
When targeting these key decision makers, Cisco uses personalized content to address their pain points and make them feel connected.
For example, it will identify the role of “IT project manager” or “data center manager” in an account and then create a custom campaign for this person, with messaging tailored to speak directly to their needs. This helps Cisco get past potential objections—like budgetary constraints or lack of time—and allows them to quickly tap into the buyer’s mindset and shift their focus from price point bids toward innovative solutions.
The key to an excellent B2B marketing strategy is to figure out who your audience is and what they need and want, then present your company as a solution to their needs. We hope that the B2B marketing strategies and B2B marketing examples have helped you understand how you can create a robust campaign when marketing to B2B. Happy B2B Marketing!
Frequently Asked Questions
The challenges of B2B marketing include finding highly-qualified leads, building trust and relationships with the target audience, marketing, and sales alignment, beating competitors at account-based marketing (ABM), and integrating and analyzing data sources.
The factors that influence B2B marketing are the target audience, marketing budget, competition, industry trends, complicated decision-making process, the levels of product complexity, and the product's strategic importance to the buyer.
B2B lead generation is the process of finding, qualifying, and converting business customers. It helps generate interest and engagement for your products with potential buyers. Lead generation aims to get your brand in front of as many qualified buyers as possible, so you can make more sales and increase revenue.
The latest B2B marketing trends are creative social media marketing, innovative content marketing (e.g., thought leadership content), influencer marketing, using intent data for personalization, referral marketing, and neuromarketing.
The four pillars of B2B marketing to increase the success of B2B marketing campaigns are insight, strategy, creativity, and metrics.
- Insight: Understand your customers and gather data
- Strategy: Use the data to build a robust marketing strategy
- Creativity: Leverage creativity to evoke interest in your products and services
- Metrics: Measure your marketing campaigns' performance using the right KPIs
The best B2B marketing tools are Canva (for designing), Hubspot (CRM and marketing), SEMrush (for SEO), CallHippo (to connect with customers over the phone), Mailchimp (for email marketing), Unbounce (to create landing pages), and Sumo (to capture your website visitor's email addresses).