An Introduction to B2B Marketing
April 26, 2016
Have you ever felt like your B2B marketing efforts aren’t gaining enough traction? You’re not alone. In fact, only 5% of B2B marketers believe their content marketing is very effective.
Stats like this exist because most business owners don’t have a strong foundation in the principles of B2B marketing. It’s a very nuanced endeavor, and if you aren’t using the right type of strategies and tactics, you’ll be ineffective.
In today’s post, I’d like to take you through the basic tenants of powerful marketing efforts.You’ll learn about the various components of a comprehensive endeavor, as well as how they work together to form a complete strategy. If you’d like to increase your results, gain more clients and increase brand awareness, this post is for you.
What is B2B Marketing?
As a B2B business, you’re selling services directly to other businesses instead of consumers. Some examples of these types of companies include:
- The freelance writer working with digital agencies to provide content.
- A business consultancy firm that helps optimize corporations.
- Professional cleaning services that gets contracts from local businesses.
An easy way to think of it: If your primary form of cash flow is invoicing clients for services, you’re probably a B2B company. (Note: There are B2B companies that specialize in selling goods and products. However, for the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on service-based businesses.)
B2B marketing, then, is the marketing activity you engage in to attract new clients. In my experience, it’s vastly different from B2C marketing in one glaring difference:
A B2B audience is seeking expertise and education, while the B2C audience prefers to receive marketing in the form of entertainment and discounts.
That difference speaks volumes about the inefficiency of most B2B campaigns: As consumers, we’re seeing B2C marketing everyday. But as B2B business owners, that’s not the way that we should be marketing to our customers.
So, how should we be marketing? Let’s look at the different aspects of an effective campaign:
B2B Content Marketing
Business to business marketing can be tricky, but content marketing is where you can really shine. By its very nature, content is a platform for educating your audience and sharing expertise – the very thing a B2B audience wants.
As a brief content marketing 101 intro, I’d like to go into a few strategies that I’ve found to be really engaging in a B2B world. Namely, blogging, social media and case studies.
Share Expertise With Blogging
There are two elements of a highly effectively blog: value and consistency. While you can certainly test other nuanced factors to enhance success, this is where you need to start.
DO: Create blog posts – on a regular basis – that are packed with research, insights and well-organized information.
- Blog because you have expertise to share
- Because you want to truly educate your audience
- Because you want them to win as much as you
Do it for the right reasons and people will notice.
DON’T: Become another company blog with no identity or sense of purpose.
- Blog for SEO alone
- Try to be funny or entertaining and thereby lose sight of your business goals
- Forget to build a sustainable content pipeline that ensures your blog is regularly updated with quality content
Use Social Media Effectively
Even though many think of B2C marketing when it comes to social media, there’s a huge opportunity to grow your B2B company this way too. The key is to always seek out opportunities to add value, share your expertise and connect with others.
There are way too many business owners simply trying to make a sale. Please don’t do that.Social media should always be used as a connection tool. Build a loyal, engaged audience and they’ll find their way down your sales funnel.
Communicate Results Through Case Studies
Another way to really gain some traction with content marketing is through case studies. This is a bit of an advanced tactic, but I wanted to mention it here anyway.
Ultimately, you want to start measuring how your services impact clients.
Once you’ve gathered that data, compile it into a case study. While you probably won’t go viral from this technique, it’s a great way to move leads closer to a sale by proving your worth.
Generating Qualified Leads
In the B2B world, success should be measured by how many qualified leads you’re generating. Sure, vanity metrics like traffic, followers and blog comments have their place. But the real results come when you’re regularly sourcing high-quality leads to your sales team.
To make this happen, leverage your content so that you collect visitor’s email addresses (e.g. subscribe to blog posts). From there, these leads can be nurtured, qualified and passed to sales. There are several ways to make this happen, but I’d like to highlight a couple to test first.
Educate With Webinars
Among B2B marketers, webinars are identified as the 2nd most effective tactic. And it makes sense why. By producing a highly targeted webinar, you get the chance to:
- Gather email addresses
- Provide an immense amount of value
- Capture attention
- Build rapport
- Give a sales pitch
And all this happens over the course of a one-hour digital event. If you’re not using webinars, it’s time to get started. (I’d advise Amy Porterfield’s Webinars That Convert for anyone interested.)
Build Your List With Content Upgrades
Content upgrades are post-specific resources that increase engagement, blog post conversions and email subscriptions. This is a great way to build top-of-funnel leads.You simply create a quick resource and make it available for download via a CTA in your blog post. Some of the upgrades I’ve found to work well include:
- Resource Lists
- A PDF download of the post
It doesn’t have to be fancy to work. In fact, Backlinko used this exact strategy to create a checklist and had a 785% increase in conversions.
Ready to Grow Your B2B Company?
Remember, you’re not running a B2C marketing campaign. If you want to grow as a B2B business, it’s important to think in terms of business to business marketing. I hope this post has provided you a strong foundation. Now, get out there and accomplish all your goals!
Do you have any other questions about B2B marketing? I’d love to answer if you leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to interacting with you there.
about the author
Chelsei Henderson is a content marketing consultant helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build successful companies in the digital world.