What is B2B marketing?
Definition, examples, trends
B2B marketing, or business-to-business marketing, refers to the process of one business informing another business about a product or service. The goal of B2B marketing is for a seller to communicate with decision-makers at an organization, rather than the end consumer.
B2B marketing, or business-to-business marketing, is the process through which a business informs other businesses about a product or service. Instead of advertising to end consumers, B2B marketing involves one business marketing to decision-makers at other organizations through channels that could include online marketing, physical marketing, paid social, search marketing, editorial content, email, video, events, and more.
B2B marketing is important because many businesses need to inform other businesses about products and services that can support their operations and consumers. For example, if your business creates software that manages payroll, you’ll want to market your product to organizations that need help optimizing and streamlining their compensation process.
Virtually every business relies on another product or service in order to operate. If you have a lawn-care business, you rely on lawn-mower manufacturers or fertilizer companies in order to take care of your customers’ lawns. B2B marketing is a large and growing segment of the advertising industry. In 2022, B2B advertising spend in the U.S. amounted to $32 billion, which was an increase from $28.9 billion in 2021, according to Statista.1 This spend is expected to reach around $37.7 billion in 2024.
B2B marketing is often contrasted with B2C marketing, or business-to-consumer marketing. These are two concepts in marketing that serve different audiences and purposes. While B2B marketing is a seller communicating with decision-makers on behalf of an organization, B2C marketing is informing individual end consumers about a product or service.
A company that sells cash registers would use B2B marketing to inform a retail store about their products; the retail store would use B2C marketing to advertise their T-shirts to consumers. Though B2B and B2C marketing serve different audiences and purposes, these two processes can sometimes overlap. Returning to the lawn-care example, the lawn-mower manufacturer may use B2B marketing to sell products to a lawn-care business and B2C marketing to sell lawn mowers to individual homeowners for personal use.
Like other types of marketing, successful B2B marketing begins with a thoroughly planned strategy. Today, B2B marketing professionals use a variety of omnichannel tactics to reach their customers. Over the past few years, there has been a rise in online B2B marketing, according to Statista2, and B2B companies have increasingly been using video marketing, brand ambassadors, and mobile marketing as part of B2B strategies.
Beyond traditional marketing campaigns, businesses are harnessing social media, search engine optimization (SEO), podcasts, email marketing, and other digital marketing campaigns to reach their target audience. Here are some important steps to follow when creating a B2B marketing strategy.
1. Define your brand positioning
When crafting a B2B marketing plan, you need to start by understanding the value that your product or services bring to your customers, and how you differentiate your offerings from that of competitors. By determining your brand positioning, you can define your target market or consumer; your product or service category; and the benefit of that product or service.
2. Understand your audience
It is essential for B2B marketers to understand your customers’ business needs and challenges. Know the products or services your customers offer, who their own customers are, how their businesses are structured, and who makes decisions in their business and why.
3. Outline your marketing mix
A marketing mix is often defined using the four P’s of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion) or expanded to seven P’s (adding people, process, and physical evidence). This marketing strategy is used by businesses as a checklist or a set of variables and factors for marketers to consider using to help reach the right customers, maximize profit, improve marketing efficiency, and more.
4. Launch products
Once you’ve found an audience and defined their wants and needs, you can reach them with a new product launch. This is where your go-to-market plan comes in handy as it will outline the steps within this phase of your marketing strategy. Ensuring your plans and strategies are thought out beforehand can help increase the chances of your product launch being a success.
5. Analyze results
Monitor your marketing strategy by keeping a close eye on growth metrics such as reach and sales. In order to measure the success of your strategy, consider the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be most relevant to the goals for your brand. Also, SEO can be a huge help in reaching customers who are actively looking for new products and digital content.
Additionally, look at the feedback you received on your products or advertisements, and listen to the notes from both your team and external customers. Pay attention to what worked (or what didn’t work), and update your goals and next steps in your long-term strategy accordingly.
An early 2023 survey from Statista3 showed that B2B marketers plan on decreasing their spend in traditional B2B marketing, while digital marketing was projected to increase by nearly 8.77%. Marketers at B2B businesses have also indicated an interest4 in exploring using more video, and brand ambassador marketing. As B2B marketing continues to grow, leaders are exploring more innovative ways to reach their audiences. Recently, brands have begun to experiment with more creative and engaging ways to connect with their customers.