The Comprehensive Guide to B2B Marketing

The evolution of B2B marketing has been shaped by technological advancements, changing market dynamics, and evolving business needs, making it a complex and ever-changing field. While it is vital to be up-to-date with every innovation, grounding your B2B strategies with the B2B marketing basics ensures that your marketing efforts are built upon a robust foundation.

This article is your all-in-one guide to understanding and thriving in B2B marketing. With the article below, you can gain expert insights and successful strategies to maximise your marketing efforts and build sustainable success!

What is B2B marketing? #

Business-to-business marketing refers to promoting and selling products or services to businesses,  organisations, institutions, and government bodies. B2B customers are organisations ranging from small family-operated companies to large multinational conglomerates.

B2B marketing focuses on creating valuable relationships between two organisations to fulfil both parties’ needs and objectives. It involves understanding businesses’ unique challenges, motivations, and decision-making processes. By grasping these intricacies, a B2B company can tailor its marketing efforts to communicate and resonate effectively with other organisations.

What’s the difference between B2B and B2C marketing? #

Business-to-business, or B2B, promotes and sells products or services directly to other businesses and industries. Meanwhile, B2C is directed toward individual consumers or broad consumer segments.

To discuss further, B2B marketing differs from B2C marketing in several ways:

  • Relationship Focus: B2B prioritises long-term relationships and tailored business solutions; B2C emphasises transactional relationships and brand loyalty.
  • Content and Messaging: B2B content is more information-driven and technical, addressing ROI and business needs; B2C content is often more emotional, highlighting personal benefits and lifestyle.
  • Purchase Motivation: B2B decisions are driven by logic and business needs, whereas emotional factors and personal desires influence B2C decisions.

B2B markets #

We can categorise the B2B markets into four broad categories: producers, resellers, governments, and institutions. Each category has its own unique characteristics, target audience, and purchasing behaviour.

Producers: definition, characteristics, and strategies

Producers are businesses that manufacture and sell products to other firms in the B2B market. They are also known as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The products they produce are typically used as components in the production of other goods. 

When marketing to producers, it’s critical to demonstrate how your product or service can add value to their production process by enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, or improving the quality of the final product. Consider case studies, testimonials, and other social proofs to showcase your offerings’ technical superiority, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. 

Here are some companies that are considered to be producers in the B2B space:

  1. Siemens AG: A global powerhouse in electrical engineering and electronics, Siemens is known for its wide range of products and services, including automation technology, industrial equipment, and energy-related products.
  2. BASF: BASF is one of the world’s leading chemical companies. It produces a vast array of chemicals, plastics, performance products, and crop protection products.
  3. General Electric (GE): GE operates across various segments, such as aviation, healthcare, power, and renewable energy. It produces a wide range of industrial products, including aircraft engines, medical devices, and power generation equipment.

Resellers: definition, characteristics, and strategies

Resellers are businesses that purchase products from manufacturers or distributors and then sell them to their customers in the B2B market. These can include wholesalers, distributors, and retailers who don’t alter the product but add value through distribution, accessibility, and convenience.

If you’re marketing to resellers, it’s important to emphasise the profit potential and market demand for your products. Resellers primarily focus on turnover and margins, so demonstrating how your products can drive sales and attract customers is critical. 

The following are considered to be reseller companies in the B2B space:

  1. Tech Data Corporation: This company specialises in the wholesale distribution of technology products, services, and solutions. They link IT hardware, software producers, and reseller customers.
  2. Sysco Corporation: Sysco is a global leader in selling, marketing, and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, and hospitality businesses.
  3. Arrow Electronics: Arrow is a global provider of products, services, and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions. It serves as a supply channel partner for over 150,000 original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers, and commercial customers.

Governments: definition, characteristics, and strategies

Governments are the world’s largest buyers. They represent a unique segment in the B2B market, comprising various agencies and departments at local, state, and federal levels.  Government contracts can be profitable, but they have strict rules and regulations.

To successfully market to governments, understand government procurement and contract policies. Emphasise compliance, value for money, and reliability in your offerings. Participating in tenders and bids is also important to build relationships with key decision-makers. 

Institutions: definition, characteristics, and strategies

Institutions in the B2B market include educational, non-profits, hospitals, and religious organisations. They often have specific needs based on societal roles and generally purchase goods and services for operational use, education, healthcare, or community services.

Marketing to institutions involves understanding their unique needs and constraints, such as budget limitations and the requirement for specialised products or services. Focus on how your offerings can aid their mission, improve efficiency, or provide educational value. 

B2B marketing strategies #

With B2B marketing, the focus is on building deep, lasting relationships with other businesses, understanding complex decision-making processes, and delivering tailored solutions that meet specific business needs.

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer in the B2B field or new to this domain, the valuable insights and practical advice listed below can help you create compelling, results-driven marketing strategies. This section will provide the tools and knowledge to succeed and drive business growth in this exciting and challenging field.

“The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good”. —Seth Godin

Types of B2B marketing strategies #

B2B marketing is a vast field with many strategies, tactics, and tools. Here are some examples of B2B marketing strategies that can help your business generate leads and drive sales:

Account-based marketing

Account-based marketing, or ABM, targets high-value accounts with personalised marketing messages and content. This strategy can be especially helpful, as 71% of consumers expect companies to engage in personalised interactions. However, it requires a deep understanding of the target accounts’ pain points and needs. 

Content marketing

A content marketing strategy involves creating valuable and informative content to attract and engage potential customers, position a business as a thought leader, and establish credibility within your industry. This content can include blog posts, white papers, e-books, infographics, videos, and more. 

Content marketing is essential because B2B buyers usually interact with 3 to 7 pieces of content before they decide to speak with a sales representative. 

Event marketing

B2B event marketing involves organising events primarily targeted towards businesses rather than individual consumers. These events, such as conferences, seminars, roundtable discussions, and trade shows, aim to facilitate networking, brand building, and the promotion of products or services among companies and industry professionals. This strategy helps businesses connect, learn from one another, and forge potentially lucrative partnerships or customer relationships.

Nearly half of event marketers believe that in-person events provide the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Social media marketing

Social media marketing involves using social media platforms to connect with potential customers, promote products or services, and drive traffic to a business website. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are the most common channels for B2B marketers to build, nurture, and grow business relationships. 

LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform for B2B marketing, with 82% of B2B social media leads generated from the professional social media platform.

Email marketing

Email marketing, considered to be one of the traditional B2B marketing strategies, involves sending targeted emails to potential customers to promote products or services, share industry news and updates, and build relationships. Effective email marketing requires a carefully crafted message, a clean and targeted email list, and a clear call to action.

In 2020, 50% of B2B marketing teams reported that email marketing was their most effective lead generation channel. 

How to create a B2B marketing strategy #

Implementing strategic B2B efforts can yield impressive results but requires careful planning and execution. Here are 4 essential steps you should consider to ensure success with your B2B marketing strategy:

Understand your objectives 

Define what you want to achieve with your B2B marketing efforts: are you aiming to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales? Setting clear, measurable goals is crucial for guiding and measuring your strategy’s success.

Develop buyer personas

Studies show that behaviourally targeted ads are twice as effective as general ads. Develop detailed buyer personas representing your ideal customers to understand who you’re marketing to. Consider their industry, job roles, challenges, and what solutions they might be seeking. This understanding will help tailor your B2B marketing messages effectively.

Identify the right B2B marketing tactics and channels

Based on your objectives and buyer personas, decide which marketing tactics and channels will be most effective. This could include content marketing, email campaigns, LinkedIn advertising, or attending industry-specific trade shows. Each channel and tactic should align with where your buyers will most likely engage.

Create B2B marketing assets

Develop high-quality marketing assets that resonate with your target audience. This can include whitepapers, case studies, blog posts, and instructional videos. Ensure these assets address your buyers’ pain points and demonstrate your expertise and the value of your products or services. 

Run campaigns

Launch and manage B2B marketing campaigns to reach a broader audience. Be it an email nurture campaign, a LinkedIn-sponsored content series, or participation in industry webinars, ensure each campaign is well-planned and executed. Consistency and relevance are vital to engaging your audience.

Evaluate and measure your performance

Continuously monitor and analyse the performance of your marketing activities. Use metrics such as lead generation, conversion rates, and ROI to gauge success. Regularly assessing your strategies lets you understand what’s working and what needs to be adjusted, ensuring continuous improvement in your marketing efforts.

B2B Marketing Best Practices #

Remember, a successful B2B marketing strategy is not static; it evolves with your market, your audience’s needs, and the overall business environment. The following section lists 5 B2B marketing best practices to remember when crafting your marketing strategy. 

Humanise and personalise

Engage the individuals behind businesses by tailoring content to their specific challenges and preferences, making communications feel more personal and relevant.

“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans”. —Dharmesh Shah, CTO & Co-Founder, HubSpot

Make an impact with thought leadership

According to a study, ⅓ of participating B2B companies emphasise creating thought leadership content. Position your brand as an industry authority by sharing insightful, helpful content and participating in events. Maximising this initiative can build brand trust and industry credibility, which is essential to attracting more clients and influencing purchasing decisions.

Target with both precision and volume

Use precise targeting tools for specific decision-makers, but also broaden your reach with content marketing and SEO to capture a larger segment of your market.  This approach increases the likelihood of engaging high-quality leads while building brand awareness with a broader audience.

Keep context in mind

Tailor your marketing messages to align with industry trends, market conditions, and global events. This will demonstrate your awareness and adaptability, which can significantly enhance the relevance and impact of your campaigns.

Manage and utilise big data effectively

Collect and analyse data from multiple sources to understand customer behaviour and preferences. This knowledge allows for more informed decision-making and better-targeted B2B marketing strategies for more effective campaigns and improved customer engagement.

What are B2B marketing trends? #

In the rapidly evolving world of B2B marketing, staying abreast of the latest trends is essential for your strategy to remain effective and competitive. From integrating advanced AI technologies to emphasising interactive, audience-centric content, these trends are redefining the norms and practices of B2B marketing. 

Here are some of the most impactful trends that are currently influencing the B2B space to help you enhance your marketing efforts and forge more robust, more meaningful connections with your clients:

GenAI in B2B marketing #

Generative AI, or GenAI, involves using artificial intelligence to revolutionise the way B2B marketing is approached. This allows for the personalisation of marketing efforts at scale, enabling you to tailor content and campaigns to each audience segment’s specific needs and interests, optimise your marketing strategies, and make data-driven decisions.

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In B2B marketing, the rise of Generative AI (GenAI) marks a significant shift in how marketing strategies are crafted and executed. Here’s an expanded view of its role and impact:

Customisation

GenAI enables the creation of highly customised marketing materials and messages that resonate more effectively with each segment of your target audience. This level of personalisation helps in building more robust, more meaningful connections with potential clients.

Efficiency

GenAI also significantly boosts efficiency in your marketing efforts. From automating content creation to analysing large datasets for actionable insights, these AI tools can handle time-consuming tasks with speed and precision to save time and allow you to focus on more strategic aspects of marketing.

Data-driven and interactive content  #

By leveraging data analytics, you can create relevant and interactive B2B marketing content for your audience to enhance engagement and user experience. Interactive content like quizzes, polls, and dynamic infographics offers a more engaging and memorable experience, encouraging deeper involvement from your audience and providing valuable data on their preferences and behaviours.

Audience marketing  #

Audience marketing involves a shift from product-centric to audience-centric strategies: understanding your target audience’s specific needs, challenges, and interests and creating B2B marketing campaigns that speak directly to them. This approach requires a deep understanding of your audience segments, enabling you to tailor your messaging and value proposition to resonate more effectively with each group. 

Building Your B2B Marketing ​​Success #

Event marketing has become increasingly essential, and our events provide an excellent opportunity for businesses to network and build relationships with potential customers and partners. The Ortus Club is a B2B marketing company that orchestrates marketing events for global executives and industry leaders, enabling businesses to connect with prospective clients and partners through both in-person and virtual meetings across multiple sectors.