B2B Marketing: Step-By-Step Strategic Guide

the ultimate guide to b2b marketing

Creating a B2B marketing plan from scratch? This guide will give you all the resources you need to cover every aspect, from content to social, influencers, and more. Let’s get started. 

What is B2B marketing?

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is the process of marketing products or services to other businesses. This type of marketing is typically used to promote goods or services that are not typically marketed to consumers, such as industrial products or services.

There are a number of different marketing tactics that can be used in B2B marketing, including advertising, public relations, direct mail, and telemarketing. In general, B2B marketers tend to focus on creating relationships with potential customers, rather than trying to make a sale immediately.

An example of B2B marketing in action would be a company that sells industrial-grade lubricants. This company might use a mix of paid advertising, PR, and email to reach potential customers in the industrial manufacturing industry. The company might also try to establish relationships with decision-makers at these businesses, to create opportunities for future sales.

Why is B2B marketing important?

B2B marketing is important because it helps businesses promote and sell their products or services to other businesses. This type of marketing is crucial for companies that rely on other businesses as their primary customers, as it helps them reach their target audience and establish strong relationships with other companies. Some specific benefits of B2B marketing include:

  1. Establishing trust and credibility: B2B marketing helps companies establish trust and credibility with other businesses by demonstrating their expertise in their industry and their commitment to meeting the needs of their customers.
  2. Building long-term relationships: B2B marketing is focused on building long-term relationships with other businesses, rather than just making a one-time sale. This can help companies create a loyal customer base and generate repeat business.
  3. Improving efficiency: B2B marketing can help businesses streamline their sales and marketing efforts by targeting specific industries and decision-makers within those industries. This can help them save time and resources while still effectively reaching their target audience.
  4. Generating leads: B2B marketing can help companies generate leads and identify potential new customers. This can be especially important for companies that sell complex products or services that require a longer sales cycle.

Overall, B2B marketing is essential for companies that rely on other businesses as their primary customers. It helps them reach their target audience, establish trust and credibility, build long-term relationships, and generate leads.

How is B2B marketing different from B2C marketing? 

B2B marketing uses the same elements that make up a successful B2C marketing strategy:  

  • Content mapping and strategy
  • Influencer campaigns
  • Paid advertising
  • Social campaigns
  • Digital PR

The differences are in how each component is used and, most importantly, the length and complexity of the buyer journey. 

In B2B, the buyer journey is much longer than B2C—Forrester found in 2021 that the average B2B buyer needed 27 touchpoints before choosing to purchase. And B2B buyers are roughly 57% of the way through their buying journey before they ever engage with sales. 

This gives content and branding, in particular, an even more important role. B2B brands can be certain that a majority of their potential buyers—72% according to the latest data—are researching their companies for weeks, months, sometimes even years before the brand ever knows they exist. 

So what’s the ROI on that whitepaper that keeps bringing in leads or the social campaign that you’ve been running for a month? 

To be honest, you may not truly know for five years, or ever, since each piece of content and marketing strategy is always running in the background.

Someone who heard about your brand at a conference three years ago may fill out a contact form today. Someone who was a junior product manager when you worked with a company 10 years ago may have joined another company that hires you in a month. 

One thing is certain: without B2B marketing, your brand is dead in the water. 

How To Approach Messaging for B2B Marketing

Digital transformation has fundamentally altered how we market. Gone are the days of aggressive sales pitches. Today, marketing is all about understanding our customer’s pain points and empathizing with their challenges. This shift has had a profound impact on the way we talk about ourselves and our products.

In fact, many leading consumer brands have already demonstrated that they know their customers better than ever before. They understand their wants, needs, and struggles. And they show it through their words and actions.

But B2B marketing has lagged behind. Many companies still rely on traditional approaches like cold calling and emailing prospects. But while those tactics work well enough for some industries, they don’t scale.

Today, B2B marketing must become more empathetic. We must start thinking about our audience as individuals rather than just as a group. We must stop talking about our products and services in terms of features and benefits. Instead, we must focus on the problems our customers face and the solutions we offer.

We must learn how to speak their language and connect with their emotions. If we do, we will find success.

What does a B2B marketing strategy consist of?

A B2B marketing strategy consists of the actions and plans a company puts in place to promote and sell its products or services to other businesses. A B2B marketing strategy typically includes the following elements:

  1. Target audience: A clearly defined target audience, such as a specific industry or decision-makers within an industry.
  2. Value proposition: A statement that explains the unique value and benefits of the company’s products or services to its target audience.
  3. Marketing channels: The specific marketing channels, such as content marketing, email marketing, or social media marketing, that the company will use to reach its target audience.
  4. Lead generation and nurturing: A plan for generating and nurturing leads, such as through the use of webinars, lead magnets, or email marketing.
  5. Sales funnel: A plan for moving leads through the sales funnel, from initial contact to becoming a customer.
  6. Key performance indicators (KPIs): Specific metrics, such as website traffic, lead generation, or customer acquisition, that the company will use to track the success of its marketing efforts.

Overall, a B2B marketing strategy is a plan for how a company will promote and sell its products or services to other businesses. It includes a clear understanding of the target audience, a value proposition, marketing channels, and a plan for generating and nurturing leads and moving them through the sales funnel.

Examples of B2B marketing strategies

Here are a few examples of B2B marketing strategies:

  1. Content marketing: Creating and sharing relevant and valuable content, such as blog posts, articles, infographics, and videos, to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
  2. Email marketing: Sending targeted and personalized emails to a list of subscribers to promote products, services, or events.
  3. Social media marketing: Using social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, to connect with potential customers, share content, and engage with followers.
  4. Account-based marketing: Focusing marketing efforts on specific target accounts, rather than a broad audience, to better meet the needs of those specific companies.
  5. Trade shows and events: Participating in trade shows, conferences, and other events to connect with potential customers, showcase products and services, and gather leads.
  6. Webinars: Hosting online seminars or workshops to educate potential customers about a topic related to the company’s products or services.
  7. Lead nurturing: Creating and executing a plan to follow up with leads over time, using techniques such as email marketing and targeted content, to move them through the sales funnel.
  8. Partnerships and collaborations: Working with other businesses or industry influencers to co-market products or services, or to co-create content.

5 B2B marketing strategies to prioritize for 2023

1. Make Use of Artificial Intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has grown exponentially over the past few years, especially within the realm of customer experience management. AI is being applied to a variety of tasks including content creation, target audience research, and lead generation. In fact, AI has even been used to generate images that are indistinguishable from photographs taken by humans.

AI is becoming increasingly important in marketing. There are several reasons why marketers should consider incorporating AI into their strategy. First, AI is already being used successfully in some areas of marketing. Second, AI is maturing rapidly and will continue to improve. Third, AI is relatively easy to implement compared to other technologies. Finally, AI offers a number of benefits, including increased productivity, improved efficiency, and enhanced brand awareness.

2. Remember, Personalization is Key

Marketers must understand customers better to deliver relevant messages across channels. This includes understanding how consumers behave online, offline and via mobile devices. But it’s not just about knowing; it’s about being able to act upon that knowledge.

In the future, we’ll expect brands to know us well enough to tailor our experience and communicate with us in ways that feel personal. We’ll expect businesses to use available information for targeted marketing messaging, and to show us only relevant and personalized content, regardless of channel.

We’ll expect companies to make sure every touchpoint and communication channel is covered, including chatbots, social media, emails and webpages. And we’ll expect to see personalization everywhere, whether it’s through voice recognition, natural language processing, machine learning or artificial intelligence.

3. Video Marketing is the Future

Despite the thirst for more visual content, video marketing is still a channel that’s largely untapped and unused. Only about 10% of companies use video marketing, even though it’s proven to be a highly effective form of communication. There are many reasons why video marketing isn’t used more often. Some of them include lack of knowledge, budget constraints, and the fear of being boring. But what if we told you that video marketing is actually a very cost-effective way to market your products and services?

In fact, video marketing is beneficial as the average attention span of your audience declines. A study conducted by the University of California Berkeley found that people spend less than eight seconds reading text online, while watching a 30 second video clip gets their attention for almost 20 minutes. So, if you want to grab someone’s attention, make sure you provide compelling visuals and sound.

The best part about video marketing is that it allows you to connect with your audience in a personal way. You don’t just talk at them; you listen to them, too. And, because of this, you’ll find that video marketing is a great way to build relationships with your prospects and clients.

4. Test Out Data-driven Marketing

Marketers are now realizing that data is becoming an increasingly critical part of their strategy. In fact, according to Forrester Research, “data is the new oil.” And while it’s true that data is important, it’s also true that there are many different ways to use data to improve marketing effectiveness.

Traditional approaches to measuring soft metrics such as brand awareness, trust, and consideration require pushing those metrics out the door and relying on qualitative surveys to measure them. These methods are slow, expensive, and inaccurate.

In contrast, third-party cookies, customer retentions, and marketing attribution models provide a much more accurate picture of how customers interact with brands. They’re also much faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

But data alone won’t solve every problem. Marketers still need to know what is working and what is not. Once they do, teams need to double-down on the strategies that lead to conversions and pipe.

5. Content Marketing Remains Crucial As Ever

Content marketing is still king in the world of business-to-business (B2B) marketing. But it doesn’t mean content teams are out of work. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities to add value to existing campaigns and develop new ones.

The key is to make sure you’re delivering quality content across multiple channels – including blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics and even apps and games. And while you might be tempted to focus solely on writing, remember that content isn’t just about words. It can include images, video, interactive elements and audio too.

That means creating blog posts, podcast episodes, infographics, ebooks, and more that provide real value to your target audience – whether that’s potential clients, partners, employees or anyone else. You could even use content to help build your brand reputation and encourage people to talk about you online.

But whatever form it takes, content is what drives sales and helps you stand out from competitors. So don’t underestimate the power of content marketing.

Here’s a stat you need to know: B2B content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and generates 3x the leads.

If you’re not investing in content marketing yet, then it’s time to start.

In this guide, you’ll find: 

  • A breakdown of the types of content B2B brands can create
  • How to develop an effective content strategy that covers every stage of the B2B buyer journey
  • The importance of zero-party data when it comes to creating content
  • Jump-starts to brainstorm content ideas
  • How to find relevant keywords to build your content around
  • How to implement your B2B content strategy
  • How to measure your content’s effectiveness

Additional blog posts about content marketing:

The Ultimate Guide to B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media may not seem like a critical B2B buyer research tool, but in actuality—it is. 92% of B2B buyers use social media to engage with industry thought leaders, while 72% of B2B buyers use social media to research potential business solutions.

So a strong social media presence is necessary if you want to have a chance of standing out amid the online noise.

This guide covers:

  • The details on why your brand needs social media
  • How to develop a brand voice on social
  • Tools and platforms that can help you
  • How to create and execute a a B2B social media marketing strategy

Additional blog posts on social media marketing:

The Ultimate Guide to B2B Email Marketing

B2B email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to engage with customers, with the average ROI being $36 for every $1 spent.

There’s no arguing with those numbers.

Email marketing is a long game, but it can generate incredible returns and become an essential part of your lead-nurturing process when done well.

This guide will help you: 

  • Create and develop your email list 
  • Develop your B2B email marketing strategy
  • Measure your email marketing success
  • Avoid common email marketing mistakes

Additional blog posts on email marketing:

The Ultimate Guide to B2B PR

B2B PR is a different animal from B2C, and it serves an even more integral function in terms of branding and reputation building.

This guide can help you get started, whether you’re handling PR in-house or hiring a PR agency to help you.

You’ll learn: 

  • How PR functions in the B2B space
  • How to craft a successful B2B PR strategy
  • How to determine whether you’re getting a good return

Additional blog posts about PR:

The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

Is your B2B company one of the many still reluctant to get into influencer marketing? Here’s what you need to know: This view of influencer marketing as solely a B2C endeavor is outdated and incorrect.

In fact, influencer marketing can be even more effective for B2B than B2C. Why? Because reputation, trust, and social proof matter more in B2B purchases, which are large, complex, and typically involve multiple buyers working together than they do in B2C (and they matter a lot for B2C).

In this guide, we cover: 

  • How to identify and choose influencers to work with
  • The metrics to look at before engaging an influencer
  • Case studies of successful B2B influencer marketing partnerships

Additional blog posts on influencer marketing: 

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Search Engine Marketing Strategy (including paid ads)

You can have the best content in the world, but if your SEO isn’t up to par, it’s unlikely many people will see it.

SEO is a massive, integrated cornerstone of digital marketing that influences how well the rest of your marketing efforts perform.

In this guide, you’ll learn: 

  • What B2B SEO is
  • How it affects your website and where you are in the search engine results
  • Ways to improve your B2B SEO 
  • How to create solid landing pages
  • How to create ads for each stage of the sales funnel/buyer journey

3 examples of successful B2B marketing strategies

The B2B market is huge. There are over 2 million companies worldwide that sell products and services directly to other businesses. And while many of those companies do well, there are plenty of others who struggle to find success. So what makes some succeed where others fail?

Here are three B2B examples of businesses who did things right.

1. Content Marketing: Shopify

Ecommerce company Shopify produces several different types of content resources including a blog, business courses and community events. One content avenue that helps the company stand out is its podcast called Shopify Masters: The Ecommerce Business & Marketing Podcast for Ambitious Entrepreneurs.

The podcast focuses on inspirational stories from entrepreneurs, and provides practical tips for starting an ecommerce business on Shopify. Topics include disrupting the soda industry with a healthy spin, how masks for dogs landed a deal on Shark Tank, and how to build a successful social media presence.

Offering so much valuable, insightful content for free is a great example of effective B2C marketing, which should always offer value before trying to extract it.

2. Digital Marketing: Mailchimp

MailChimp’s homepage is easy-to-navigate, clean, and focuses exclusively on its customers’ painpoints.

Consider, for instance, the very first large text you see upon clicking on the page: “GET DOWN TO BUSINESS AND GROW SALES”.

The smaller text below it reads: “ENGAGE YOUR CUSTOMERS AND BOOST YOUR BUSINESS WITH MAILCHIMP’S ADVANCED, YET EASY-TO-USE MARKETING PLATFORM”.

The language focuses on the customer and how Mailchimp could help the customer reach his/her goals: Grow their businesses.

Additionally, the website offers a logo at the top of the screen that enables customers to choose whether they want to view the site in English or Spanish.

Even the company’s Products navigation bar includes how the product can Get Your Business Online and Market Your Business.

3. Social Media Marketing: Adobe

Adobe has been one of the most active brands on TikTok since joining the platform just over a month ago. Its videos have garnered tens of millions of views, and the company says that it wants to continue growing its presence on the platform.

The company’s second video, posted on January 16th, asks its audience, “Who is a creative TikTokker we should know about?” This question encourages high audience engagement, and the answer is Adobe Creative Cloud.

The video features a number of different people talking about how they use the software, including a woman named “Natalie,” who explains why she uses Photoshop for her work. She describes how she uses the software to make images look better, and even gives a demonstration of what she does.

This video gets around 2 million views, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fun, it’s informative, and it’s well produced.

The 3 Most Creative B2B Marketing Campaigns

1. Shopify’s Let’s Make a Business Campaign

Shopify’s latest ad campaign aims to make people feel like they can start their own businesses. In fact, the company wants to convince everyone that starting a business is easy.

The campaign features four different videos featuring real entrepreneurs talking about how they got into business, what they did to succeed, and how they are doing today.

In one video, an entrepreneur explains that he had no idea where to begin when he launched his business. He says that he didn’t know anything about marketing, social media, or even accounting. But he learned everything he needed to know and now he’s making money.

Another video focuses on a woman who opened her own beauty salon. She talks about how she found a way to open up shop while still working full-time.

A third video features a man who owns a restaurant. He tells viewers that he knew nothing about running a restaurant before opening his doors. But he learned everything along the way and now he’d love to teach others how to do the same.

And finally, there’s a fourth video featuring a father and son who run a construction company together. The pair talk about how they met and how they grew their business over the years.

Each video ends with a call to action asking viewers to sign up for Shopify’s free trial.

2. WeWork’s Video Campaign

Thomas Glare from Smallbizdaily applauds We Work’s video campaigns. He wrote: “This is one of those companies that knows what it takes to succeed in today’s digital world.

– “The company recently launched a campaign called #WeWorkedIt where it showcases some of the best work spaces around the globe.

– For small businesses to drive forward office space, this company created a series of 30 second videos. These videos can be cut to fifteen or even six seconds and get the message across. This proves to be a good utility for this marketing campaign.“

– The takeaway? “For B2B and b2c marketing campaigns videos are must,” according to Glare.

And, of course, it’s important that you deliver your messages in as short a time frame as possible, just like We Work’s videos get the message across when cut to six seconds.”Thomas Glare from Smallbizdaily applauds We Work’s video campaigns. He wrote: “This is one of those companies that knows what it takes to succeed in today’s digital world.

3. The Slack Mockumentary Campaign With Sandwich Inc.

Sandwich Inc., a cusomter of Slack’s created a mockumentary video. The video showcases the journey of Sandwich from being a small startup without Slack to becoming a large enterprise with Slack.

In the video, you’ll see Sandwich employees use Slack to communicate about the creation of their product while working together on different projects. They even go through some challenges along the way such as getting stuck in meetings and having to deal with interruptions.

But it doesn’t end there – the video continues with Sandwich explaining how they used Slack to bundle multiple communication channels into one platform.

So what’s the message here? Well, it’s pretty simple. If you want to grow your business, you need to embrace technology like Slack.

Navigating the Changing B2B Marketing Landscape

The landscape of B2B marketing has been evolving rapidly over the past few years. In fact, according to Forrester Research, there are now four distinct types of buyers within the market: early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

While the fundamentals remain largely unchanged, the ways companies interact with each type of buyer has shifted dramatically. This shift has led to some interesting changes in how marketers approach their work.

In particular, we’ve seen a rise in the number of B2B companies focusing on “customer experience.” These companies understand that while many of their competitors continue to focus on lead generation and sales enablement, customers want to do much more than just buy products and services. They want to engage with companies, learn about their offerings, and build relationships.

This shift has also had significant implications for the way B2B marketers think about their jobs. Instead of simply trying to generate leads, most B2B marketers are now focused on creating exceptional experiences for customers. And because those experiences are often centered around helping customers solve problems, these marketers are thinking about their roles differently too.

Need some motivation? Check out our case studies to see some of the results these B2B digital marketing strategies have gotten for our clients. 

And if you need a more hands-on approach, our team of experts is always available. Get in touch here.

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