When creating a marketing strategy for B2B purposes, the targeted personas within businesses are actually seen as individuals. There are, though, some very important differences between B2B and b2c marketing.
The 4 following key differentiators are important when considering a B2B lead generation strategy.
1. A Stretched decision-making process
B2C purchasing decisions tend to be driven by emotions. In B2B there almost no such thing as impulse purchases. Products and services sold to businesses often have more complicated specifications and require certain level of expertise to be considered. B2B customers seek efficiency and expertise. Their decisions are logical, rational and trust based. A B2B purchase will rarely happen without first establishing a relationship with the company.
47% of B2B buyers consume 3-5 pieces of content prior to engaging with a salesperson. This means many B2B prospects are researching and consuming content before the company even knows who they are.
Consider this typical buyer's journey:
On the awareness stage, the prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem and is researching in order to understand and give a name to their problem.
On the consideration stage, the prospect has clearly defined and given a name to their problem and is researching available ways to solve it.
On the decision stage the prospect has decided on a strategy to solve their problem and is now ready to make a purchase decision.
Companies who understand this journey and create content that will help B2B prospects down their journey from awareness to consideration to decision, are the companies who will win over the prospects.
2. Wider stakeholders circle
An average B2B purchase is typically more expensive than a B2C purchase, which means that financial department might need to request approval from a high level executive officer. In most cases, there is more than one decision maker taking part in considering a B2B deal. Businesses often have policies and processes in place to control and regulate procurement. Typically, that would mean that each purchase goes through a standard workflow, where on each stage it is being evaluated by a specific stakeholder according to certain criteria that lie within his competency.
A wide stakeholders circle often results in "authority issues". A company can nurture and be in touch with a prospect for several months, only to realize at the last minute that there's another decision maker in place, who is was not part of the relationship and will (naturally) not sign off on the sale. Understanding this at an early stage of the sales cycle can guide B2B marketers and sales reps when tailoring brand messages. The idea is to help out your prospect when having to explain the proposal to the rest of management. This can be done by creating relevant content that answers common objections that other position holders tend to bring up. As early as possible in the sales cycle, it's recommended to ask the prospect if there is anybody else who should be on the call/meeting. Try and get the relevant personnel on board, and don't count on your prospect explaining your offer well enough. That's almost always a recipe for failure.
3. Narrower audience
Along with a wider range of stakeholders to target, B2B marketers typically have a narrower scope of entities in their lead pools. One can go on forever about the benefits and the possible drawbacks of this situation. On one hand, limited scope of customer base means that competition is tough. On the bright side, your customers are easier to research, so you can meet their needs with less effort.
Not having a clear understanding of your target audience is as playing a slot machine – your chances of winning aren't high. With narrow audiences this is even more critical. The way to go about it is to map out buyer personas – those semi-fictional representations of your ideal buyer. Figure out what your buyer persona's goals and challenges are. Then strategize your marketing to those personas and forget everyone else.
4. Longer-lasting engagements
By nature, B2B engagements are typically longer lasting than B2C engagements. Once a relationship is established, a B2B customer's lifetime can last years. This isn't to say there aren't long lasting B2C engagements, but the typical B2B engagement tends to almost alwasy be long.
This requires a regular upkeep of the relationships. As Neil Patel nicely put:
"However you choose to define it, engagement matters. Why? Because a customer who doesn’t use your product isn’t going to keep paying for your product. If your customers are not engaged — not using the service for which they are paying — then they will cancel.”
The stronger the relationship and communication is with your clients, the lower your churn rate will be, and the chances of your customers becoming your brand ambassadors will raise. Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Strive to get your customers to talk about your company.
When planning a B2B marketing strategy it is important to be aware of these core differences. Treating your prospects the same way as you would treat B2C prospects could result in a difficult struggle and frustration.
If you're curious to learn more, we invite you to download this FREE guide of 14 B2B marketing practices every CMO must know.