No small question to tackle! Over my career I’ve held marketing position in both B2C and B2B. And while I personally didn’t approach each role differently, a lot of people did. I typically work under the general principles of:
- Figure out what the target audience is looking for
- Build your service or product (and your collateral) around meeting that need
- Test, test, test
- Refine and launch
- Test, test, test
- Refine and re-launch, rinse and repeat
I know that’s just Marketing 101, but it’s amazing how many people skip a lot of those steps. In organizations that are not customer-centric, you’re forced to sale what you’ve got. Sometimes those products are big hits and sometimes they’re not; regardless it’s risky. You may not have the luxury of testing or refining.
The idea of business customers needing something that retail consumers didn’t was always foreign to me. Obviously it takes different types of messaging, packaging, promotions and payment structure for a B2B audience, but that’s not a big deal. That’s just good segmentation or targeting. Different audiences should receive relevant messaging. Products targeted at everyone rarely make a difference to anyone.
And obviously different marketing mediums reach the different audiences more effectively. It’s hard to market to top tier business executives with 30 second TV spots. They’re too broad and expensive to reach such a small audience. Rebates don’t work well in large organizations. If you’ve ever worked in a Fortune 500 business, you know how big of a pain it would be to process a rebate coupon with your procurement department much less American Express. Tech-heavy spec sheets or pricing schedules do not appeal to the general public. But, I contend that the thought process is the same. The deliverables, mediums and tactics may differ but you still need to determine the best message that will get this user to buy – and buy now.
It’s about getting them over the hump as quickly as possible. You have to show them what problem your particular offering solves, why you are the provider of choice, and why they should act now. Those foundations should be the core of any marketing initiative.
Seth Godin said it best, “Business to business marketing is just marketing to consumers who happen to have a corporation pay for what they buy.”