Some things in life are complicated. Like Business Cat’s first day on the job. ☝
We can all feel a little bit like Business Cat when it comes to B2B marketing. The good news is that we often over complicate ideas and strategies around it. It’s actually much simpler than what we make it.
Since we get B2B marketing experts on B2B Growth every day, it only makes sense to put their insights to use. Most of the information you’ll find here comes directly from the mouths of B2B marketing leaders.
That info includes…
- What is B2B marketing?
- B2C vs. B2B Marketing
- B2B Marketing Misconceptions
- Types of B2B Markets
- B2B Marketing Strategies
- B2B Marketing Examples
Keep reading for some simply smart stuff.
What is B2B marketing?
What is B2B marketing? B2B marketing refers to business-to-business marketing. It differs from B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing in that the producer is drumming up demand from other businesses and organizations. Instead of targeting individual consumers, B2B marketers target groups of buyers at ideal accounts.
[HEAR: Learn something new about B2B marketing every day. Check out the 26 best B2B marketing podcasts out there.]
In its rawest form, B2B marketing looks like a group of people promoting their goods to another group of people.
Salesforce people marketing to PayPal people.
Nike people marketing to the University of Oregon people.
Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil people marketing to Flat Earth Society people.
You get the picture.
B2C vs. B2B Marketing
Some authorities will tell you that “B2B and B2C marketing are very different.” This sentiment, though, is becoming more and more untrue as the line between brand and individual blurs.
B2B & B2C Aren’t That Different
Here’s the deal: The services and products that B2B and B2C companies make are different. The manners in which buyers use B2B products and B2C products also differ.
The way they buy those things, however, is arguably the same.
There’s one thing that’s fused B2B and B2C marketing so closely together they’re almost indistinguishable — it starts with an “i” and ends in “ternet.”
Everyone Uses It
Everyone — from enterprise execs looking for software to the guy across the hall looking for a plumber — uses the internet. They realize there’s a problem so they turn to Google.
And, since there are a gazillion options at our fingertips, they’re going to search for the one that best fits their needs.
How do software developers and plumbers communicate that they meet buyers’ needs? Marketing.
The Buyer’s Journey
A CFO is searching for a smarter way to bill customers. A homeowner is sure something is wrong with his sink but isn’t certain what it is.
They’re both in a stage of the buyer’s journey.
(Mind you this B2C example ☝ was sourced from a B2B website.)
Every single person experiences the buyer’s journey before making a purchase. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’re buying.
It’s for this reason that B2C and B2B marketing aren’t really — if at all — different. Where the difference in marketing strategies really comes in is between the buyer’s journey stages.
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B marketer, your process can be boiled down to human-to-human marketing. And most humans can smell the disingenuous corporate BS from a mile away. So, just be human. 🤷♀️
Remember that the next time you’re trying to appeal to an organization.
With the biggest B2B marketing misconception out of the way, take a look at the other three.
3 B2B Marketing Misconceptions
Lots of people see B2C and B2B marketing as polar opposites. So, other misunderstandings tend to pop up.
Here are three B2B marketing misconceptions that need to be absolved.
1. You’re trying to market to a big group of people.
Yes, in B2B you want to appeal to multiple decision-makers in one organization. However, most of your focus should be on your individual ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), aka, your champion.
For example, Sweet Fish doesn’t market to every single executive at an ideal account. We target VPs of Marketing at SaaS companies (our ICP).
[READ/HEAR: Get your ideal customer’s attention — invite them to be on your podcast.]
Those are the people making the final decision on a service like ours. By framing our service as a no-brainer to our ICP, they become the ones selling it to the rest of their team.
Therefore, it helps to load up your ICP with resources to answer questions from other decision-makers. How much does it cost? How does the onboarding work? What’s the ROI going to look like?
Your ICP is the one their team trusts. So, equip them with the resources to sell the rest of their team on your service/product.
2. Creativity & design don’t matter.
FALSE: B2B has and always will be boring.
Remember when we talked about how similar B2C and B2B marketing are becoming? That means there’s tons of room for B2B to be just as quirky, creative, personable, whimsical, unpredictable, and witty as B2C brands.
You’re marketing to humans. Humans like to laugh, engage, and learn new things. Even big-wig executives like to be entertained.
You’re wondering how to stand out among your B2B competitors? Look at what successful B2C companies are doing.
3. Quantity always trumps quality.
I made some really sh**ty cookies but at least I made a lot of them!
It’s the age-old quandary: Do we prioritize quantity or quality?
When it comes to leads generated by B2B marketing, focus on quality, first and foremost. Once you’ve got a solid process down for bringing in *quality* leads, only then should you consider revving up production.
“There is so much pressure on marketing leaders to create demand that we often forget about quality and go for volume.”Isabelle Papoulias, CMO, Mediafly
What’s the use of getting eyes on your brand if they’re the wrong eyes?
What’s the use of baking a million cookies if they all taste bad?
Limit the waste and prioritize quality before quantity.
Types of B2B Markets
It’s good to know the type of market you’re dabbling in before you go off shooting cold emails to important people. You need to understand their needs, preferred methods of communication, and what’s keeping them up at night.
So, before we get to B2B marketing strategies, let’s dust off the ol’ textbook and find out what the different types of B2B markets are.
The four types of B2B markets are…
Producers buy products and services from B2B companies to make them into something else. There are producers that sell their transformed goods to other companies. Then, there are some who sell directly to the consumer.
McDonald’s buys beef from a B2B company and transforms it into tasty burgers 🍔 which are then sold to customers. Another producer would be Procter & Gamble. They purchase materials from B2B companies, transform those materials into, well, basically everything, then sell those products to resellers.
Ever heard of a little boutique called Target? It’s a reseller of goods that it purchases from — you guessed it — producers.
Unlike producers, resellers don’t mess with the goods. In other words, they sell stuff as is.
[READ: Wanna see what influential B2B marketers are doing IRL? Add these 24 B2B marketing influencers to your Instagram feed today.]
Big Brother is also the biggest buyer of products and services. The U.S. government purchases everything from rubber bands to rockets from private businesses.
Uncle Sam also buys services from B2B (or, in this case, business-to-government) companies, like waste management and transportation.
If you’re in an institutional market, you’re probably selling to nonprofit organizations, like The Salvation Army, animal shelters, churches, and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
B2B companies selling products and services to nonprofits often offer lower rates at higher volumes.
B2B Marketing Strategies
Now with the knowledge of 100 marketing professors, we can move on to the fun stuff: B2B marketing strategies.
What are B2B marketing strategies? B2B marketing strategies are methods B2B companies use to create demand for their services or products. B2B marketing strategies include…
Once you understand your target market and the niches within, you can plan out which strategies will work best for your audience.
Keep in mind that some B2B marketing strategies involve multiple channels. So, take into account which channels your ICP prefers.
Any type of company anywhere today needs a well-designed website. It’s sort of like your business’s home base. Your website is where people can find everything about your company in one spot.
[HEAR: This is how a B2B company increased traffic to their website by 300%.]
Your company’s website is also your chance to make a good first impression. If it loads slowly, is difficult to navigate, and has a poorly designed layout, people are going to be turned off.
Launching a B2B podcast is one of the savviest marketing strategies a company can implement today.
Not only does a podcast help you reach more of your audience but it’s a platform to build relationships with your ideal buyers.
Instead of sending another pitch to a potential customer, ask them to be interviewed on your podcast. This way…
- They’re more likely to respond
- You make valuable content together
- You build trust and rapport
- You make them look like an expert
- You have original interviews that you can repurpose into other content
[WATCH: Thinking of starting a B2B podcast? You should! Here’s literally everything you need to know (for free).]
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential component of any B2B marketing plan. It’s how new leads find you.
On-page SEO, otherwise known as on-site SEO, refers to the optimized content on your website. This can include web pages, blogs, landing pages… any content that shows up anywhere on your site.
Following up-to-date SEO techniques will help your pages turn up as results on Google for particular terms your ideal customer is searching.
Sweet Fish optimizes our blog posts for terms like “B2B marketing” and “B2B podcasting.” So, when one of our ideal buyers searches those keywords, we (hopefully) show up as one of the first results.
Off-page SEO, or off-site SEO, refers to the optimizable content that’s not on your website. This can include ads, social media posts, and backlinks (links featured on another website, pointing to yours).
It’s a good idea to put some effort towards off-page SEO because it builds your site’s credibility.
B2B brands should absolutely be taking advantage of video for their marketing plan.
One easy way to produce valuable videos is to record your podcast interviews. With some simple editing, you can publish full interviews on YouTube. Additionally, smart clips of your guests make great micro-videos (bite-size, shareable videos).
Here’s more on turning podcast episodes into videos:
Social media marketing for B2B brands is essential.
The Sweet Fish team has found a lot of success with LinkedIn. This is because our ICP likes to consume content from LinkedIn.
Other social channels we’ve explored include Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse. Depending on where your target audience likes to hang out, you could leverage platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Snap.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different social media channels until you find something that clicks.
If you plan on launching a digital ad campaign, you should first categorize your offerings into top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-the-funnel, and bottom-of-the-funnel buckets.
Look back on the buyer’s journey stages. Ideal customers in the awareness stage should be targeted with top-of-the-funnel advertising. You could offer a valuable piece of content or maybe a free consultation or audit.
By the bottom-of-the-funnel, your ideal customers are close to making a buying decision. Target them with ads offering something with higher commitment, like a meeting or a subscription.
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising platforms make it easy to segment your audience and target them with relevant ads.
Another type of advertising your B2B company might find lucrative is in podcasting. With podcast popularity on the rise, teaming up with a podcast advertising agency is a smart move.
Email is still one of the most effective B2B marketing strategies today.
In order to keep the trust of your email contacts, you need to send consistently valuable content. Regular newsletters work great as long as you prioritize what your contacts value.
As a B2B brand using email, you want to send helpful tips that apply to your audience’s industry. Avoid being sales-y at all costs.
Where The Magic Happens
One of these B2B marketing strategies on its own won’t yield the results you’re probably hoping for. The real results start to come in once you combine a few strategies.
The best way to do it? Start a podcast and let all of the tasty content come from your guests.
B2B Marketing Examples
You know what to do to get your B2B marketing plan off the ground. Now for a little inspiration. ✨
B2B Website Example
Proof Drinks is a B2B agency focused on beverage branding and marketing. They’ve taken a B2C approach to their website, showcasing beautiful product imagery on the front page.
Their fast-loading website features brands they work with, services they provide, and more information about the company.
B2B Podcasting Example
Autodesk is a B2B SaaS provider in the construction industry. Since they launched their podcast Digital Builder, they’ve been able to build relationships with ideal customers, increase brand awareness, and produce loads of valuable content.
Branding their show around their ICP has made it possible for Autodesk to establish rapport with potential buyers.
B2B SEO Example
Sourcing content from their podcast guests, BombBomb has created an on-page SEO machine like no other.
With helpful links, clear direction, and video snippets, the blog posts based on The Customer Experience Podcast episodes definitely support BombBomb’s SEO efforts. Not only are they being found via SEO, but readers are spending more time on-site because of the attention to UX.
B2B Video Example
As a B2B podcasting agency, Sweet Fish is always looking for new ways to connect with our ideal customers on different platforms. Recently, we used video to create a comprehensive B2B Podcasting Course.
It’s our hope that this video course is A) helpful to budding podcasters, and B) able to bring in demand for our services.
B2B Social Media Example
If you’re looking to rev up your B2B social media strategy, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
Launching our LinkedIn Evangelist Program has allowed the Sweet Fish team to grow our social media presence exponentially.
Keep in mind, when you’re carrying out a B2B social media campaign, the individuals at your company have more pull than your logo. In other words, employees should be posting from their profiles as opposed to your company account.
People trust people more than companies.
B2B Advertising Example
Try up-leveling your B2B advertising campaign with video, like Remarkety has. As an ABM software solution, their product is about as unsexy as B2B gets.
But, by investing in video, they make their brand 1000x more fun and youthful.
B2B Email Example
DocuSign answered the question via email before it could be asked: Are electronic signatures safe?
Sending this article out to ideal buyers increased DocuSign’s credibility in a non-salesy way.
Your Simplified B2B Marketing Solution
It’s tempting to chase the newest, shiniest marketing tactic out there. But, when you root your B2B marketing strategy in podcasting, everything is simplified.
Email, video, social media posts — everything branches off of your B2B podcast. No more running around with your head cut off trying to get onboard with fleeting trends.
Even this blog post was based on podcast interviews with leading marketers. Stop making it more complicated than it needs to be. Simple = Stronger.