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B2B Marketing Strategies

Marketing in the business-to-business (B2B) arena is a completely different game than its consumer counterpart. ‘Buy one get one free’ offers simply won’t have the same effect when you’re dealing with professional clients. While it can be tempting to try and market on lower price and the traditional consumer value points, it’s important that you take control of your marketing and direct your efforts more towards delivering true value to the businesses you’re serving.

Flashy sales letters might be hottest trend when it comes to direct marketing to consumers (especially online), but bright red headlines designed to capture a prospect’s attention aren’t nearly as effective when it comes to pitching to business clients. Instead, a much more personalized approach to marketing that sees you integrate your services into their business plan will deliver value to both sides. This makes you each a more valuable asset to have on each other’s side – whether you’re selling toilet paper or legal services.

Think about it for a second – professional buyers are used to being pitched on the business value and common sense underlying a particular deal, and will as a consequence be most reluctant to give in to any overt pressure sales tactics. Remember – for the most part, the clients you serve in a B2B market will have their own sales function, and will already be familiar with the tricks of the trade. Sell to these clients as they want to be sold to – not as your current processes permit. That means allowing the buyer to make up his or her mind, with you simply acting as a facilitator to make it happen.

That’s not to say you should be setting a rigorous face-to-face appointment schedule with all of your B2B clients (although some industries may demand this as standard practice). Instead, you should attempt to build and foster relationships with your clients on a personal level, while ensuring you continue to provide goods and services that make sense both financially and in terms of their quality. Email and telephone conversations usually suffice, and the impact of consistently delivering on your promises for clients certainly plays a massive role.

B2B marketing online is a softer process, working best when it’s built in around your existing marketing strategies. Tactics like email marketing can be effective, but only if you target business owners correctly. Getting your website noticed and enhancing your online brand is the first step, but the real struggle with pitching to B2B clients is getting to ‘yes’ and seeing the deal through, which more often than not is a much more involved, personal process.

Even more so than consumers, business customers will quickly spend their money elsewhere if it represents a better value proposition. This means that it’s absolutely essential to build defenses around your business and the services you offer to grow a sustainable, long-term enterprise. Integrate your services into each of your clients’ respective business plan and act like an extended member of their business team rather than a salesperson. This is usually the best and quickest way to achieve true success with commercial clients.

Warren Miller is the lead marketing consultant for Lazer Promotions – a ‘new media’ marketing agency that delivers customized solutions through new technologies. They just launched the Lazer Alliance membership club to help businesses to get ahead online, featuring marketing tools, one-on-one consulting and more. Their blog is updated daily with essential business advice.