Compared with business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, business-to-business (B2B) often gets a bad rap. B2B marketing is viewed as bland and lacking in glamour.
While these notions have generally held true for a long time, B2B marketing as a practice has come a long way in the past 10 years, thanks to the rise of the Internet.
However, many myths are still associated with B2B marketing.
Myth 1: B2B Marketing Is Not Cool
Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which was founded on a vision to colonize Mars, is a B2B company. Its vision, coupled with a smart marketing strategy to leverage the right forums to get mindshare, has made SpaceX one of the most admired brands in the world, and one of the coolest ones, too.
Compared to B2C, B2B marketing deals are often complex, which limits the number of buyers and decision makers. However, these constraints can also be seedbed for innovation. For example, Intel entered into a deal with football club FC Barcelona to have its logo inside players’ jerseys. Intel Inside, indeed!
Myth 2: B2B Marketing Is Not Active
B2C marketing seems a lot more active than B2B for two reasons. First, B2C marketing is targeting a large mass of customers at once. Second, you are one of those customers.
B2B marketing, however, is concerned with reaching the right audiences, and for those audiences, successful B2B marketers are as active as possible. They understand that 60 percent of the buying process is complete even before the customer meets a sales representative, and strive to build a strong brand that helps during the customer’s due-diligence process. Large B2B enterprises work on a host of activities, such as positioning, thought leadership, account-based marketing, digital and social, PR, and analyst relations. They also invest a lot of effort in accurately segmenting their customers and striking the right positioning for themselves in the market.
Myth 3: B2B Marketers Can’t Do Everything A B2C Marketer Can
A marketer is guided by the nature of the business and the people he or she is trying to reach. On these counts, B2C marketers do have a bigger playing field. At the same time, over the years, some of the biggest brands have been built in the B2B segment. Caterpillar’s equipment playing a game of Jenga was one of the most viral videos of the year, and was a great way to showcase its value for precision. GE is a brand that has become the benchmark on newer social media platforms, like Pinterest and Instagram. IBM “Smarter Planet” is one of the most resonating positioning statements of today’s times.
Myth 4: B2B Marketing Is About Corporations, Not People
It is a cliché, but also true: Corporations don’t do business with corporations; people do business with people. B2B marketers, just like their B2C counterparts, need to understand the people they are addressing. They need to know the drivers, motivators, tastes, preferences, and entire demographic and psychographic profile before planning a custom outreach plan. The B2B companies that accomplish this effectively are the ones that engage and keep in touch with various influencer communities.
There are different ways to market a company. All companies do not need to spend money on Super Bowl advertisement slots or YouTube campaigns for people to know about them. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is a fine example.
At the end of the day, a marketer–B2B or B2C–can only succeed if he or she understands the product and the customer thoroughly, and then plans timely interventions to capture mindshare and, eventually, market share.