Business to business or B2B marketing strategies can fail for several reasons. Main points of failure include poorly defined plans, weak tactics, and lack of knowledge. From ineffective targeting to poor messaging, the pitfalls are plentiful, though not always obvious to business owners. The solution is to rethink and reshape the approach of low-performing B2B marketing campaigns.
Is your B2B business missing opportunities, suffering stagnant growth, or losing ground to competitors? If yes, this article is for you. It’s time to equip your SMB with the knowledge and tools to compete in today’s crowded B2B digital marketing landscape.
This piece examines how to catapult your small or medium-sized B2B business marketing to a new level. And, how partnering with a reputable B2B digital marketing agency can help you achieve the greatest impact with your marketing, no matter your budget’s size.
B2B Marketing Strategies 101: Know Your Audience
If you don’t attract the customers or clients you need, your B2B marketing strategy is not resonating. When that happens, prospective buyers simply shift to brands that do resonate. So, knowing your audience is vital for effective B2B marketing. With the right data, you can tailor campaigns that cater to the precise requirements and preferences of the most valuable prospects you target. If you’re struggling, it’s time to reevaluate your ideal customer profiles and buyer personas.
Test your knowledge on what you know about your target audience. This simple check will help you identify areas lacking clarity so that you can fill any data gaps.
1. Who Do You Think Is Buying Your Offerings?
This test examines your initial assumptions or hypotheses about people or businesses buying your products and services. You may have based these assumptions on general market knowledge, industry trends, or preliminary observations. But remember, these are only assumptions. You need to test your assumptions through proper research and data analysis. The results may surprise you.
2. Who Is Actually Buying Your Offerings?
This step involves thorough research by gathering data and insights about your client base. That could entail a review of your CRM, data analysis, plus customer feedback, surveys, and interviews. The goal in this step is to accurately detail your clients’ demographics, psychographics, and behaviors, and the same for your current prospects.
This research will reveal any dissonance between your assumptions and what is real. You can then make data-driven decisions to create new, effective business-to-business marketing strategies that will target the clients you want to have or better meet the needs of the prospects you are currently attracting.
3. Who Do You Wish Was Buying Your Offerings?
Now consider the ideal customer or target audience you aspire to attract. Who are they, what challenges do they face, desires do they have, and how can your offerings meet those needs.
To do this, envisage the characteristics, needs, and preferences of those who could use what you offer. Defining the ideal customer that is best for your SMB will help you develop more accurate buyer personas (see next) and marketing to connect with them.
4. Customer Profiles vs Buyer Personas
The term ideal customer defines the person or company your business targets. And buyer personas are imaginary personifications of your ideal customers and clients. These profiles represent your target buyer’s demographics, behaviors, motivations, and preferences. Customer profiles and buyer personas help business owners understand the needs and person making the decision to buy and personalize marketing strategies when promoting products or services to them.
The tables below outline the key characteristics and attributes of customer profiles and buyer personas in a B2B context. However, the details and categories will vary based on your industry, business, and target audience. It’s also vital to know how your B2B customer profiles and buyer personas differ from business-to-consumer (B2C).
B2B Customer Profile
In contrast to B2C firms, B2B businesses typically target other companies rather than individual consumers. To determine if an organization is a suitable potential customer, ask yourself this simple question: which challenges and issues can our products or services effectively solve? Preferably, you can offer solutions your rivals can’t or they can’t do as well.
Sample B2B Ideal Customer Profile
|Company size||Small, medium, or large, plus the number of employees|
|Industry||Type of industry or sector|
|Pain points||Challenges or issues faced by the customer|
|Goals||Aims or desired outcomes|
|Decision-making||Purchasing decision processes|
|Budget||Financial resources allocated for purchasing|
|Communication channels||Favored channels for engagement|
Utilizing buyer personas is a successful strategy to humanize your target audience. Doing this makes it easier to tailor your marketing messages. It helps you choose the best channels and tactics to resonate with specific needs and preferences. It takes time, patience, and testing, but the ROI is worth the effort.
Sample B2B Buyer Persona
|Demographics||Age, gender, location, educational background|
|Job role/position||Responsibilities/functions within the organization|
|Pain points||Role challenges and frustrations|
|Information needs||Type of information they seek for decision-making|
|Communication style||Preferred tone, format, and style of communication|
|Influencers||Key influencers in their decision-making|
|Motivations||Factors driving decision-making and behavior|
Unlike B2C marketing, B2B marketing and sales often involve engaging with one or more decision-making stakeholders and influencers. All parties play an essential role in the decision-making process. However, it’s common to interact with an influencer before and during communicating directly with decision-makers.
Purchase Influencers and Their Role
Company influencers hold significant sway over purchasing decisions. That means they wield considerable power in decision-making but not the final say. As gatekeepers, influencers may hinder or even block your access to decision-makers unless you can sell to them first.
So, your success lies in understanding company influencer goals and helping them to facilitate selling your offerings to the key stakeholders when direct access is not an option.
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B2B Marketing Strategies: Competitive Analysis Matters
As a B2B business owner, you must stay abreast of your competitors’ position and marketing. The best strategy is to keep tabs on rivals through regular competitive analysis. No B2B marketing assessment is complete without one. The analysis entails researching rival offerings, sales, and marketing tactics. This data offers valuable insights and reveals potential threats and opportunities to your SMB’s marketing strategy and sales.
A competitive analysis evaluates your competitors in four key areas:
- Rival offerings
- Sales processes
- Pricing strategies
- Marketing tactics
How to Perform a Competitor Analysis
For the DIY business owner, there are templates to help outline the process. Alternatively, working with a digital marketing agency to perform expert competitive analysis will result in faster and more insightful results. Not only does an agency have the expertise and experience, but they also approach it with an unbiased approach and potentially useful knowledge from outside industries and experience.
Don’t Neglect the B2B Marketing SWOT Analysis
Use the SWOT analysis framework to assess your own company. It looks at four areas: internal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). A SWOT analysis starts by examining your unique internal capabilities and potential areas for improvement. You then analyze external factors like market trends and your competitive analysis above.
These combined insights help you gain perspective on your SMB’s marketing position and develop strategies that leverage your strengths, mitigate weaknesses, help you grasp new opportunities, and bulwark against potential threats. A thorough SWOT analysis will give your B2B business a clear roadmap for winning over customers and increasing market share.
How to Perform a SWOT Analysis
Performing a detailed SWOT analysis starts by gathering a large amount of data. That data then needs to be organized in a format that makes sense. Many guides and templates are available to help structure and organize your SWOT findings.
Or, consider a B2B agency, who will already have a process in place, to perform your analysis and identify strategic actions and areas of improvement for you.
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B2B Marketing Strategies: Know Your Unique Selling Proposition
A B2B marketing strategy without a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is weak. Your USP is a powerful way to differentiate your B2B business from competitors. It does this by conveying the unique value a product or service brings to the table compared to competitors and alternative solutions.
Leveraging a strong USP achieves three things. It enhances your business’s credibility, captivates your target audience, and ultimately shapes purchasing decisions.
Let’s break down the three components of your B2B USP.
1. What You Offer
This component highlights the specific products or services your B2B business offers. It focuses on the unique features, benefits, and solutions that set you apart from competitors, and communicates the value and benefits customers can expect from your business.
Examples of what we offer:
- Innovative software
- Improved business efficiency
- Streamlined operations
- Cost reduction
- Business empowerment for scaling and success
The above points are great, but to possess a competitive advantage and stand out, you must have an edge over rivals and their offerings.
2. What Your Competition Doesn’t Provide
Emphasize the distinctive elements that differentiate your B2B business from your opponents. First, identify the gaps or shortcomings in rival products. Then, explain how your offerings are the solution to those gaps. Showcasing what others lack or fail to deliver draws attention to the added value your business brings to customers.
Examples of what your competition does not provide (that you do):
- New, unique software to offer seamless integration with third-party platforms
- Time-saving automation that frees up valuable time
- Customizable solutions tailored to specific business needs
- 24/7 dedicated support and personalized assistance
Of course you should always verify marketing claims before using them, or you risk damaging your brand’s reputation.
3. What Your Target Audience Wants
You must understand four things about your target audience: their needs, desires, pain points, and aspirations. That requires detailed research and analysis and should be a key component of your ideal client and buyer persona building.
This data helps you gain accurate insights into your customers’ preferences, challenges, and hopes. Aligning your USP with their needs enables you to provide solutions that strongly resonate with your target audience.
Examples of what your target audience wants:
- Need: Cost-effective solutions
- Desire: Streamlined processes
- Pain Point: Improve communications company-wide
- Pain Point: Replace outdated technology that hinders productivity
- Aspiration: Growth and expansion
Based on our example above, the USP statement might look something like this:
“Empower your business to scale and thrive with[Name] innovative software solutions. Enjoy seamless integration with your key third-party platforms to streamline operations, save time, and customize features to meet your company’s needs. Say goodbye to outdated tech and communication challenges while driving cost-effective growth and company expansion.”
Essential Tools for B2B Marketing Strategies
Successful B2B marketing strategies require the proper tools and people with the expertise to utilize them effectively. Leveraged correctly, they will help you reach your identified target audiences and drive business growth. Below are three essential categories of tools for B2B marketing.
1. Organic Digital Marketing
Organic digital marketing focuses on non-advertising channels to reach your audience. Published blogs, videos, podcasts, and other content help build trust, enhance credibility, and advance your thought leadership. Best practices in search engine optimization (SEO) raise the position of your website or digital storefront in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). And social media platforms can be effective in promoting brand awareness and encouraging user engagement with your business.
2. Paid Tools and Channels
The most successful B2B marketing strategies use a mix of free and paid marketing tools. Paid channels include targeted advertising and industry-specific event participation. Online ads are great for reaching target audiences, boosting visibility, and lead generation. While tradeshows and other events provide valuable face-to-face networking opportunities for increasing B2B sales.
Yes, there’s still value in providing a personal touch and showcasing your products or services to a real-world audience.
3. Public Relations Efforts
Consider PR tools and channels to boost your brand reputation and visibility. Releasing press releases and winning industry awards highlights expertise and builds company credibility. Community involvement attracts customers who are committed to social responsibility initiatives and want to partner with similar companies. And engaging with thought leaders and industry influencers amplifies reach and establishes connections.
The below table summarizes online and offline marketing tools and channels.
|Online Marketing||Offline Marketing||Public Relations|
|Content marketing||Trade shows||Industry awards|
|Search engine optimization||Direct mail||Community involvement|
|Social media marketing||Print advertising||Industry expert interviews|
|Email marketing||Networking events||Press releases|
|Webinars||Cold calling||Thought leadership articles|
|Influencer marketing||Public speaking engagements||Social responsibility initiatives|
B2B Marketing Strategies In Conclusion
Winning B2B marketing strategies require a clear plan, a profound knowledge of the target audience, and alignment of your USP with their preferences. Your campaigns should include a thorough analysis of your rivals to gain a competitive edge and drive growth. Lastly, your marketing campaigns need effective tools and channels and B2B marketers who know how to use them effectively.