While most marketing textbooks, and indeed many of the marketing courses that you will find out there on Google, concentrate on business to consumer (B2C) marketing, the strange truth is that the majority of marketing work actually takes place in a Business to business (B2B) context. For example, take this statistic from the Federation of Small Businesses that SMEs alone employed 14.1 million people and had a combined turnover of £1,500 billion. That’s a lot of business to be had and money to be made in terms of marketing. In any case, to be successful in B2B marketing you need to know that B2B and B2C are very different disciplines.
Firstly in B2B technology marketing you tend to be dealing with a significantly more expensive transaction. Buying an IT infrastructure is not the same thing as buying an air freshener. It’s easy to get people to spend a few dollars on a pair of shoes, provided your market share is such that you make a profit at the end of your marketing campaign, but it’s more complex to get people to invest in a large business expense.
Because of this, in B2B marketing you tend to be deal with much larger decision making units. Often there are a team of people paid to make a decision and your job as a marketing executive is to understand the needs of all of these people, whether they are in purchasing, R&D or on the board. This means that you need a much more complex positioning strategy. You need a “story” for the sales department, a “story” for the technical department and a “story” for the chairman. As a B2B marketing executive you need to shape your positioning and messaging to reflect a lot of different audiences and their specific needs.
B2B sales cycles can be very, very lengthy. If you are selling a chocolate bar you might be looking at a sales cycle measured in seconds or minutes. If you are selling complex engineering equipment your sales cycle is likely to be measured in months and years. This requires a different, more patient and considered approach to marketing. It means longer, less intensive marketing campaigns and more detailed collateral and sales material.
B2B marketing presents many challenges and requires expert guidance to be successful. If you find that you struggle with the details, it might be wise to call upon a marketing services company with an expert team who can help you plan and prepare for success.