Business-to-Business, more commonly known as B2B, is one of the many business models that companies categorize themselves under. A company with a B2B business model does business with another company who act as their consumers (like the one involving a manufacturer and a wholesaler).
A B2B startup could provide other companies with different kinds of commodities right from raw materials and finished products to consultation and services required by them to operate optimally. To ensure this model is profitable for the company, the B2B marketing strategies are designed in a way that sales are driven solely from wholesale transactions.
This is in contrast with the B2C model, which is Business-to-Consumer oriented. In B2C, the marketing strategies are designed to help companies to do business directly with individual customers at a retail level.
How Are B2B Marketing Strategies Different From B2C?
One of the prime advantages of being in B2B business is that other businesses are more likely to buy your offerings in bulk volumes. They would also be more open to buying high priced products or services if they see value in it.
Whereas, a B2C company highly depends on the loyalty of retail consumers to stick to their product. In some cases, if the products/services are not the ones that require a frequent purchase, then the challenge is to keep acquiring new consumers.
It’s a fact that most B2C companies rely on more than one B2B companies at any given time. Since B2C companies thrive on convincing individual consumers, most of their time and efforts are driven towards making consumers aware of their offerings, show them the usefulness of it, convince them why they are better than their competitors, and finally convert the individual into a buyer.
While B2B companies also have to pitch their offerings to get a deal, the B2B marketing strategies mostly ensure that the companies don’t have to spend most of their time constantly being visible and accessible to the unpredictable easily-swayed public.
B2B models are a great fit for early startups who offer raw materials or parts, or services that are specific to a certain B2C company crowd. If the vision of a B2B startup is to ease the operations and increase the efficiency and productivity of other businesses, it is easy to secure long-term deals.
Changing vendors is not something big businesses can afford to do frequently. So once the deal is made, the B2B company mostly doesn’t have to worry too much about losing their customer. You will have to concentrate on providing the best service, resolving the issues they face, keeping the customer updated, and maintain a good business relationship.
Challenges Faced By B2B Businesses
Some of the most common difficulties faced by a B2B startup are:
a) B2B companies may need to participate in the bidding process arranged by the purchaser, where proposals are requested. The purchaser would get proposals from multiple B2B companies and evaluate what works best for them.
b) The purchase-decision can be pending for long periods of time, while all the company can do is wait to hear back.
c) The purchasing committee usually comprises of a group of important personnel. Each committee member would have to be educated and convinced about why the offering is best for them.
d) Since the dollar value of the company’s offerings sold in a wholesale manner would be high, the company might be requested for working prototypes of the product or service. The purchaser could request for customizations that are specific and confidential to their business.
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7 B2B Marketing Strategies That Can Help Your Startup
Lead generation is key for any successful marketing strategy. The expectation is to design a strategy that is compelling enough that your target audience responds positively. Converting leads to long-term customers is an art, and there are many companies out there doing it all wrong.
Here are some of the best B2B marketing strategies that can get an early and growth stage B2B startup rolling in this constantly evolving market.
1. Use Your Existing Connections
As the founder of an early stage startup, your first and foremost step should be to get in touch with everyone you know and tell them about your new venture. List down all your friends and business acquaintances.
Schedule online meetings, meet them over coffee, or just request for some phone time, and pitch your business to them. Ask them to connect you with their friends who might be interested or who can help you. Word of mouth can go a long way in this internet generation, where a personal touch is remembered and valued!
2. Create Useful Blog Posts
As a new entry in the existing market, you probably already have successful competitors to compete with, who have been around for years or even decades! To make yourself known and build your company’s reputation, it’s important to improve your visibility significantly. Luckily for us in this digital age, that is not very difficult.
You can start by creating your own website and maintaining a blog. The articles in your blog will not only improve your visibility in the social spheres, but it will also help you establish your subject matter expertise in the domain where your product or service belongs.
For eg: at myHQ, we write heavily on topics related to our target audience i.e. entrepreneurs, marketers, freelancers and working professionals.
Having a well-read blog will also help you in creating your organic marketing funnel which will generate leads without much capital infusion.
Eventually, you can also try to contribute to well-known publications, be it online or print magazines, that are easily accessible to your target audience.
Related article: 11 free content distribution channels to drive insane traffic
3. Shoot Cold Emails
Emails continue to be one of the best B2B marketing strategies. Research about the companies you ideally want to convert into purchasers and find out who is the go-to person to get in touch with.
Shoot a personalised email to each person, and ensure that you customise each email clearly stating how your offering can solve their existing problem or how it can increase their profits and growth.
Always remember not to spam businesses by sending out bulk emails; they will not be read!
Related article: How to improve CTR and open rates of your cold emails
4. Study Your Competitors
Like they say, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer! It’s very important that you know everything that you can possibly know about your competition in the B2B market. Today, most companies have a considerable digital footprint. So check out their reviews, customer feedbacks, complaints, and see how you can avoid the same mistakes and improve on it.
Studying your competitors can help you fine-tune your offering. So when the time comes to present your pitch to a potential purchaser, you have the answer to what makes you better than the others in the market!
5. Network Every Chance You Get
For a B2B startup, human capital is extremely important. The more people you meet and greet, the better! While you nurture your existing connections, always keep room for new ones. Attend events, programs, exhibitions and other gatherings in your industry, even if it means spending a bit on the registration fee!
Remember that the people you meet and connect with might not necessarily remember you unless you follow up with them. Collect their cards and drop them a personalised email in a couple of days after the meet. But rest assured that in B2B, offline connections and some face-to-face time can go a long way.
6. Sign Up At Local Incubators
As an early stage startup, incubators are great spaces to meet like-minded individuals who are also in the same ship as you in terms of experience and expertise. The relationships that you can cultivate in the cohorts can lead to some beautiful partnerships in the near future.
You will also get a chance to perfect your pitch, learn from your peers, and interact with experienced mentors who can give you the necessary guidance and a nudge in the right direction.
7. Build Your Online Presence
There are a lot of online avenues in social media that a B2B business can explore. First of all, create a LinkedIn profile and use it to share your blog posts and other domain-specific ideas.
LinkedIn makes it easier to promote product launches, strengthen relationships with key connections, and reach out to the decision makers of your target company in a professional setup.
Twitter can help you get noticed and increase engagement. By using the right hashtags and reaching out to relevant people, Twitter can be a great addition to your B2B marketing strategies.
Facebook is an easy way for customers to seek support from you, and it can help you solve their issues without delay. This is also an excellent platform when it comes to generating more traffic for your website/blog.
Instagram is cost-effective because you can showcase user-generated content. You can also use it to share the lighter human side of the company! Lastly, SlideShare can help you with your SEO greatly. It helps you reach a large number of professionals.
Related article: 13 Instagram marketing tips for businesses to get real-world results
While all these strategies can work great if implemented in the right way, remember that we live in a competitive world. A company has to constantly review their B2B marketing strategies and aim to optimize them regularly to maintain the lead.
Even if you hit all the right targets, there’s no guarantee this strategy will work a few months from now! The market is evolving as we speak and it’s important to build capacity so that your company is quick to adapt to new trends.
So, what are your top marketing strategies this year? Share with us in the comments below!
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