Business-to-Business marketing (B2B marketing as it is commonly known) is the art of selling one company’s product or a service to another company. The techniques of B2B marketing companies in India involve some of the basic principles of consumer marketing, but are performed in a unique way. Consumers have the habit of choosing a product not only based on price, but also on the popularity, status and other emotional factors. However, B2B buyers buy products based on price and profit potential alone. Finding new ways to foster relationships through social media is currently a hot topic in the B2B marketing world. This has given rise to 2-way conversations between businesses. According to a survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate, it showed that businesses preferred buying products from companies they track through social media.
Let’s look at some key factors as to what makes business-to-business markets special and different to consumers.
1. B2B markets go through complex decision-making units –
It may be the work of a lowly ranked junior in an office to order paper clips, which has low value and low risk. However, the decision to order something expensive like furniture, which is vital to the business, may involve a larger team to make a decision which usually takes a protracted period. The decision-making unit is often operated for a short period of time – specialists give their opinions and then leave. The target audience for a B2B market is different, made of different groups.
Example – Buyers looking for better deals. Production managers want high amount, Health & Safety executives want low risk. These are just a few; hence, there is high complexity and dynamism in B2B markets.
2. B2B Buyers are more Rational –
As a consumer, whenever we buy a product, we buy what we want, and not what we need. However, it is different for B2B buyers. A rational B2B buyer will think like “Shall I buy this leather jacket worth $500, which is less warm compared to the next store selling the same kind of jacket for $200?” Or “Shall I spend $1000 on a football club, which just got relegated and be frustrated later on as the season progresses?” The reality is that we, as consumers, are much less informed and more sensitive to urges, fulfillment, recklessness and showing off, and hence, we make irrational decisions. The fact that B2B buyers are rational thinkers makes the job of a B2B marketer easy. All they need to do is design and manufacture a product and give it to the B2B buyers.
3. B2B products are Far more Complex –
Just like decision making unit is complex, so are B2B products. Purchasing a consumer product requires very little expertise, but the purchase for an industrial product requires a qualified expert. Where consumer products are highly standardized, industrial product require high levels of fine-tuning. Sometimes, a complex consumer product is chosen on the basis of simple criteria. On the other hand, even a simple industrial product has specific requirements and requires an expert examination and modification. The key for B2B marketer is to have complete information regarding the product or service being sold. Along with the technical details, the marketer must also be aware of offers like after-sales service, problem resolution, etc. As a result, B2B sale is often known to be ‘technical sale’, which means marketers in B2B markets are highly experienced, and originate from a technical background within their organization.
4. B2B Markets have Fewer Behavioral and Needs-based Segments –
Over the years, few advertising related studies have shown that B2B markets have typically far lesser behavioral and needs-based segments compared to consumer markets. One of the reasons for this is the smaller target audience in business-to-business markets, leading to smaller segments. In consumer markets, there are thousands of target audiences, so, it’s relatively easier to divide the market into few segments, even if a few of the segments are only separated by small degrees of behavior and need. One of the main reasons for small segments is that a business audience’s behavior, or needs may differ lesser compared to a consumer audience. Factors like whims, insecurities, indulgences are far less likely to come to the buyer’s mind.
5. Personal Relationships are Important in B2B Markets –
One of the most important feature in B2B market is the importance of personal relationship. The importance of personal relationship is important in emerging markets such as China and Russia, which still lack in culture of free information, problems with local suppliers, and in markets where the concept of branding is still coming up. However, a small customer base buying regularly from business-to-business supplier is relatively easy to speak to. Sales representatives visit the customer, talk to the customers, answer their queries, and then develop trust and personal relationship.
6. B2B Buyers are Long-term Buyers –
Usually, consumers buy items like a house or car, which are long-term purchases, but the chances are relatively low. But in B2B markets, long-term purchases are expected to be repeated over a long period of time like machinery, and components, which are continuously used and are required on a larger scale. Long-term products require service back-up from the suppliers. A network of computers, a new machinery item, or a collection of cars require more extensive after-sales service compared to a house or a single car. Businesses that keep purchasing products require expertise and service related to delivery, implementation/installation advice, etc., which are far less demanded by consumers.
7. Few strategies to build online branding –
Marketing executives are usually obsessed with generating leads and then making sale. In fact, they ignore the fact of the value of investing in online branding. However, even for marketers who live under the impression of performance-only, neglecting to invest in brands is a mistake. Here are branding strategies to build online branding which will help you in your business.
8. Research your Target Audience –
In order to build your brand online, you must have a clear picture about the audience you are going to target, especially, before you begin creating content strategies and communication plans. For this, there are many tools which can help you identify your target audience, including products from comScore, Google, Nielsen and Compete. These tools allow you to learn your target audience like age, gender, household income, marital status and their locality.
9. Give voice to your Brand –
According to your research, analyze what your audience wants to hear and what kind of message you may want to put forward. This will help you to form a basic foundation for your brand. But keep some of the things in mind always:–
a. Have an open mind and consider all ideas.
b. Speak to your audience while creating any content. Avoid telling them, as people respond better to a conversation that relates to them and engages them.
c. While putting forward your message is consistent as people look for consistency in a brand.
10. Try to Create a Balance between your Online Media –
You should try to build your brand through different channels. Try using images and content networks in order build your brand through replication, try placing ads in front of your target audience using behavioral targeting, site specific targeting and re-messaging. With the help of organic search, make sure your brand name and messages are included in title tags and Meta descriptions. Also, make sure that your messages are consistent through paid search. All these will help your brand reach the minds of your audience, have recall value, and in the lead generation process.
11. Use your Social Media Skills –
Ask questions like, what do you want your brand to say or do online? What type of interactions do you want your audience to have with your business? Which advertising on social media platform is better for your brand? Twitter or Facebook? Doing a little research will help you to understand where your audience is and how to interact with them? Start listening and understanding as to who is talking about your brand. However, remember that it’s the conversation with your target audience which is going to help your brand and not by forcing a message to them.
12. Build your Reputation Online –
A good branding consultancy will recommend that building your reputation online is now the next best thing. But it’s not easy and takes time. First, it’s important to include a defined strategy in order to reach your audience. Secondly, you will need to identify and use the right kind of tactics in the process. For example, make sure to have a grasp on any existing offline partnerships you may have to grow your reputation online. Doing this will help you in two ways, – it will help to build links that points back to your website and your organic search presence will grow.
To conclude in short, B2B buyers are more demanding. B2B buyers carry bigger responsibility to make the right kind of decision while purchasing a product on behalf of an organization. They take fewer risks but they expect the right kind of quality. They have the experience to recognize if a supplier is providing the wrong kind of service. They often pay more compared to a consumer and hence expect more in returns. Remember that they are used to getting things whatever it may be, and they regard themselves as interacting authority with the product and service supplied to them, rather than acting like a passive recipient.