Ask any company that serves both private and business customers about the difference in marketing approach between those two target groups, and there is a good chance that there are two completely different marketing plans. From relatively small companies to multinationals, almost every entrepreneur seems to be convinced that you approach business customers differently than private ones. This while practice shows that the differences between B2B and B2C are becoming smaller and business customers think more and more as consumers. What does that mean for B2B marketing?
Sell benefits, not features
A persistent misconception in the B2B marketing domain is the assumption that buyers need not, or almost not, be convinced of customer benefits. When we sell products to consumers, the average entrepreneur knows only too well how product characteristics can be translated into customer benefits and how these can best be presented to such a customer. For the B2B market, it has long been true that as long as the buyer does not use the product, the benefits associated with that product do not matter. B2B marketing focused on speed, reliability and a good business relationship.
These values are still of vital importance, but the reality today is that buyers are increasingly starting to think like consumers. That is partly because their customers are becoming better informed - a trend that has been visible in the marketing world for around fifteen years - and the emphasis for many entrepreneurs is increasingly shifting to service, service provision and information provision. And that of course has an impact on the needs of such an entrepreneur towards his suppliers and contacts.
B2B marketing in the construction sector
All in all, there is a good chance that, if you have had many business customers for many years, your B2B marketing will become obsolete over time. You will have to adjust that to the modern marketing landscape, in order to prevent you in a few years really chasing the facts. How you can approach this is best illustrated by an example; in this case the construction sector.
Traditional B2B marketing would require a supplier in the construction sector to ensure that all different types of building materials are widely available, quickly available and of good quality. This traditionally results in a website full of tables with available materials, associated properties and rates.
For example, how do you sell duplex steel?
In today's world you cannot get away with such a traditional approach. As a supplier you will have to help your buyer to sell the right building materials. A recent development in the construction sector is the improvement of duplex handle, a high-quality type of stainless steel. It is an expensive, but qualitatively superior building material that does not wear, does not rust, does not expand much and is very strong. Instead of enumerating those characteristics, a steel supplier could choose to make the customer benefits of duplex steel visible to buyers in a creative, visual way. Show buyers what duplex steel has meant for an end user in a positive way. Like beer: duplex handle is suitable for brewing kettles (because duplex handle can handle good stress corrosion). Or building efficient bridges (because duplex steel is stronger so less steel is needed).
You sell duplex steel faster by talking about beer and bridges - exactly what your customers are doing - than when you talk about the grade or the megapascal (MPa). Such a buyer is then helped with informing his own customers and ultimately putting the product on the market. By pointing this out as a producer - what does the purchase of this product mean for your customers, and therefore for your marketing and sales - lift your B2B marketing to a higher level.