People have started to sit up and notice the business-to-business or B2B marketing movement. Companies are seriously turning towards specialist B2B agencies for
- strategic advice,
- marketing ideas and
- creative services to reach and woo C-suite clients
In Asia, the difference between B2B marketing and consumer marketing is less clear. Many corporate communications managers and marketing directors are still outsourcing projects for marketing support on a piecemeal basis to advertising or public relations agencies. They are reluctant to seek the services of dedicated full-service B2B agencies.
Is it surprising that these companies feel their marketing requirements are not met optimally? Many conventional agencies have their roots in consumer marketing. They do not have the required experience to develop comprehensive B2B marketing programs.
A few essential characteristics distinguish mass marketing from B2B marketing and differentiate any B2B promotional effort.
The power of many
In consumer marketing, the target is always an individual. In B2B marketing, you can target any number of people in line with the decision-making chain. However, some of them might not be located in the same country where you are in!
It is useful to find who the ‘real decision-maker is. For example, is the sourcing or purchasing manager as crucial as the planning manager or the chief financial officer? In many companies, the human resources manager’s services conventionally been the office manager’s role and vice versa.
Several professionals for B2B marketing only target the ‘C-suite’ and fail to realize that sometimes, the CEO’s secretary decides whether or not they should order products or services from your company.
When a buying decision impacts several departments such as finance, IT, and operations, you should look at different ways to bring your company’s credentials to a group of people. Every credential should display different concerns and expectations!
Identifying multiple groups and their interests and joining them with tailored communications and a powerful database can result in a higher return rate.
2. The power of one
Every employee of your organization who comes in contact with the customer is your “brand.” So it doesn’t matter whether you are selling commercial having warehouses of multi-million dollar or consultancy services.
Therefore, your brand ambassadors must believe in your business values and selling. Get your B2B marketing agency to provide them customer-centric brand messages and sales tools. Would you mind making sure you train them to make every customer feel like your most important client ever?
On the other hand, B2B companies must ensure that their corporate brands are strong. And their customers don’t leave when their brand ambassadors do.
3. Target the head, not the heart
Validating and quantifying one’s value proposition is critical for any B2B agency. But, unlike B2C marketing, it is about conquering the head and not the heart (or ears or eyes, for that matter).
Suppose you are one of the top peptide powder suppliers, your B2B marketing agency must help you reply to tough customer questions like:
- “Why should I choose your company over other peptide powder traders?
- What value can you add to my profits or business plans?
- What are your views about my company’s requirements?
- How will your peptide powder help you get ahead?”
In matured B2B sectors, the value proposition is less about the core product and more about the enhancements or ‘value addition.’ The challenges here are different as the main question is, “Can we have your service at a better price than your competitor?”
4. Corporate brand, product brand, or CEO brand
It is often advised to go against building personality brands unless it is the CEO or founder. It is vital not to let personal egos getting ahead in the way of building a business persona. It will certainly outlive the former.
It is also advised that B2B agencies focus on protecting and building corporate brands against their product brands. For example, Vista can fail, but Microsoft should not.
Building a corporate brand comes in quite handy when closing potential business deals for B2B companies. People feel comfortable recommending a new vendor, supplier, or consultant that their bosses have heard about, versus an unknown one.
We are not building a case that the lesser-known brands will lose every opportunity unless they can prove they can deliver. Then, they have less chance to be considered. However, if the risk of failure is high, i.e., when the products or services affect the company’s viability (legal standing, productivity, reputation, etc.), the contract’s value is large. Risk is also high if the ultimate decision-maker is your competitor’s good friend.
5. Make me look good in front of my boss
This might seem like an old suggestion. However, sometimes B2B marketing agencies ask clients how to make their customers look good in front of their bosses.
- Can you present your products in a way, which helps your business and shows them to be making a positive contribution to their employers?
- Do you need to give tools that help your contact/s present the approvals for their suggested merchant, i.e., your organization?
- Would it be a good idea to get ready documents that show your organization’s worth can bring to different divisions at your contact’s company?
- Would it be a good idea for you to offer to help incorporate your items or administrations into your client’s association?
- Are your ‘green credentials’ per your client’s business sustainability endeavors as a B2B seller?
There is always a reason for everything. So always shift your B2B marketing towards your customers’ planning.
There are various financial year-ends in different countries. So, it is important to make your pitch at least three to four months before your client’s year-end. By this, you will ensure your agency has a chance to make it into the shortlist for next year!