What is business-to-business marketing strategy

B2B marketing: Marketing to business customers

B2B marketing: attract business customers

Founders and self-employed do not necessarily have private individuals as customers - they can also focus on the target group of business customers. This type of business relationship has special characteristics, which are characterized by the B2B marketing (business-to-business) of the providing company.

B2B marketing is understood to mean all measures of a company that have an effect on the positioning towards its business customers. As in B2C marketing (business-to-consumer), a company has four classic marketing instruments at its disposal:

The combination of all these instruments is referred to as a marketing mix in both B2C and B2B marketing.

The special features of B2B marketing

The market in B2B marketing is structured differently than a market with private customers, which means that the same prerequisites for formulating the marketing strategy do not apply there.

If in B2C marketing there are usually individual customers who make a purchase decision immediately, this looks different in B2B marketing: As a rule, it is not a single employee who makes the decision about the purchase of a product, but rather several people in the context of a so-called Buying centers involved in the buying process. Due to the large number of people involved and the product, which often requires explanation, the purchase process is drawn out and decisions about the purchase are less emotional than in B2C marketing.

The mostly long-lasting products in B2B marketing are often individualized and tailored to the market participants. Due to the generally very special type of product, the anonymous mass market is rarely addressed in B2B marketing - instead, the number of market participants is lower and their identity is often known.

Communication policy: targeted instead of mass market

Due to the mostly low number of potential customers in B2B marketing compared to consumer goods marketing, the communication policy differs significantly from that in B2C marketing. Instead of mass communication via traditional media, direct contact with customers is sought in B2B marketing.

Depending on the industry and product type, there are relevant events at which providers and customers meet. Trade fairs in particular serve as an important means of communication in B2B marketing and are often used to initiate contacts. Personal sales are therefore clearly in the foreground in B2B marketing.

Because a large number of people are involved in the purchase decision, the communication policy of B2B marketing must be geared towards these buying centers. For example, not only do the decision-makers with mostly a business background need to be convinced to buy a product, but the technical consultants should also be involved, especially in the case of services that require explanation.

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Direct sales are important in B2B marketing

If indirect sales via retailers are common in B2C marketing, the focus in B2B marketing is clearly on direct sales.

The number of customers is small, and it is not uncommon for them to be spread all over the world. Often there is also the need to explain the products, which lengthens the sales process and makes indirect sales through intermediaries not recommended for successful B2B marketing.

If the product to be sold is not standardized goods such as screws, but rather products individually tailored to the customer, then direct sales cannot be ignored in the distribution policy of your B2B marketing.

So it's not surprising that direct sales is one of the most important elements in the B2B marketing mix.

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B2B marketing services

As a rule, B2B marketing is about products that cause high costs for customers. This is due on the one hand to the high quality of the goods and on the other hand to the individualization and adaptation to the needs of the customer.

Due to the high quality, the products in B2B marketing are usually more durable, so defects can occur over time. Broken parts can be replaced without having to replace the entire product.

Complex repairs and product adjustments after the purchase are the main reasons why the product policy in the context of B2B marketing should place a significant focus on additional services. In the case of capital goods in particular, customers expect faultless functionality and immediate repair in the event of defects. In B2B marketing, founders and the self-employed should therefore orient their product policy in a service-oriented manner, for example by providing individual contact persons, so-called key account managers, for important customers.

Payment terms are often decisive in pricing policy

The pricing policy in B2B marketing also differs in many respects from consumer goods marketing. Discount campaigns like those in retail are rarely found in B2B marketing. Instead, the negotiated terms of payment can be decisive for the purchase: When is the time of payment, is a loan also issued at the same time, or is a compensation transaction, i.e. an exchange of services, possible? Depending on the circumstances, a service contract is concluded in addition to the purchase contract, which should be optimally designed.

B2B marketing services

Services have a special position in both B2C and B2B marketing. Compared to tangible goods, there is no haptic sales argument for the service: They are immaterial. As a result, it is not so easy for customers to check the quality, and building trust is (more) difficult.

Working with reference customers has proven to be an effective solution for this in services in the B2B area. Through the communication of satisfied, well-known customers as possible, trust can be generated with interested parties. A convincing purchase argument can also be the communication of the company's age or an offer for a free test phase.

If the customer company is involved in the service process as a so-called external factor, it is important to exude competence and professionalism. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and strengthens customer loyalty.

Major differences to B2C marketing

Companies with private customers as their target group differ from B2B marketing in a few ways.

When it comes to sales, B2C companies mostly rely on indirect sales in order to reach the broad, anonymous mass of private customers. The same applies to communication policy: Instead of attending trade fairs as in B2B marketing, the focus there is on advertising measures in mass media such as the Internet, TV or print.

The pricing policy in B2C marketing thrives on special offers and price differentiation, since the product purchase is much more emotional than in B2B marketing. In product policy, there is hardly any product customization in B2C marketing and the after-sales service only plays a subordinate role in contrast to B2B marketing.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.