As the contemporary business environment is becoming more and more competitive, many marketers find it difficult to create value and retain the loyalty of their existing customers and attracting new clients. Marketing in the business-to-business (B2B) context is a more complex activity as compared to selling your products and services to regular consumers. Business buyers are high-level executives and professional procurement agents, which is why you need to be 100% convincing to secure future deals. In this article, you can find 5 success factors that can make or break your marketing strategy in 2019.
1. Don’t take a shot in the dark…
You have just created a new product or service and you think that your offering practically ‘sells itself’. Right now, it is highly important to not follow your internal impulse to launch it without a prior market research. There is nothing more commercially devastating for a business than investing all spare resources into the advertising instruments that are ineffective or targeting the wrong customer segment. Hence, testing your offering on a small sample of companies could help you identify the kind of tangible value sought by them. This way, you can fine tune your marketing and your product to be 100% effective in reaching the targeted consumer segment. Another potential path is organising a survey among consumers. This way, you can collect valuable feedback regarding both your offering and your marketing tactics before making substantial investments into your ‘main’ campaign.
2. … and do not hunt two hares at the same time
Selecting multiple segments, industries and partners may seem like a good idea for maximising your profitability. However, the B2B context is different from the consumer market where major international retailers sell their products and services to thousands of consumers. In the majority of cases, niche marketing can be a quicker path to success than the undifferentiated approach due to a number of factors. Firstly, B2B marketing is relationship-driven. By focusing on a small number of critical customers, you can fully utilise the Pareto principle and maximise your efficiency. Secondly, addressing the needs of a single major client ordering 1,000 items on a monthly basis is substantially easier than catering to the requests of 10 clients ordering 100 items each. Hence, focused approach in the B2B context also leads to greater time and cost efficiency, which may be valuable for many industries experiencing the consequences of declining global economies.
3. Your website is your virtual identity
In the B2B environment, corporate websites still remain one of the primary business assets. They are the visual representation of your organisation, which your customers will encounter when they search for your company name online. Therefore, having a professional, SEO-optimised and comprehensive platform is critical for attracting new clients. This also influences the conversion rate of your ‘marketing funnel’ as these prospects become engaged and develop consumers’ motivation to make their first orders. Your website should focus on your client needs and not your company benefits. Your prospective customers are looking for a quick and cost-efficient solution to their problems and not the information about your organisation. Hence, putting a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) or high-quality practitioner articles in the place of the ‘Company History’ or ‘Our Awards’ sections may be the optimal way to shift your marketing focus and make your visitors return to your website more often.
4. ‘Pull’ marketing is the key
Aggressive promotional methods have limited effectiveness in the modern context where all Internet users utilise ad-blockers and view pop-up advertising and unwanted newsletters as aggressive spam. In this environment, marketing leaders focus on the creation of high-quality content that attracts business consumers to their resources and stimulates them to visit their websites on a regular basis. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 83% of successful B2B organisations rely on the ‘pull’ content-based marketing to attract new clients and keep the existing customers interested. Think about your company knowledge and the way it can be valuable for the end user. Can your order statistics be used to build a FAQ list guiding your buyers towards the optimal purchase decisions? Do you have any valuable recommendations that will make your customers’ lives easier and increase their gratitude?
5. Use social media
While the relevance of official websites is still substantial in the B2B context, social media resources are quickly becoming the main source of referrals and an effective business growth accelerator. Up to 66% of marketers rely on this instrument to generate leads through one of the four primary platforms, namely LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Moreover, your prospective customers can quickly contact your company representatives through personal messages, which is much quicker and less ‘binding’ than sending official email requests or commercial offers. At the same time, it is important to tailor your social media strategies to the B2B context. Firstly, you should focus on relationship development rather than targeted population coverage. The satisfaction of the several key customers may be a more critical indicator than the overall number of page followers. Secondly, it may be a good idea to provide 24/7 emergency support for the situations that need immediate attention or for answering the general questions of new consumers from other time zones. This way, you can demonstrate that you value your customers and are ready to walk an extra mile to satisfy their needs.
The modern B2B context is characterised by the growing uncertainty. However, it also holds unique opportunities for those companies that can capitalise on the emerging trends such as big data, machine learning and the use of micro-influencers. While this list of 5 success factors can be a good start for building your unique strategy, the best advice that can be given to marketers is to learn from industry leaders and test all assumptions before incorporating new instruments into your ‘marketing toolbox’. There is no universal solution that works for every business, which is why your marketing strategy should be tailored to the resources and characteristics of your company.
Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in both freelancing and academic writing industries, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.