In business, one of the first distinctions you’ll make is whether your product or service is intended for a B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) clientele. Only after deciding on your potential customer base, can you begin to develop a strategy in which to market to them. Deciding on appropriate amounts of marketing spend, which channels to invest in, and what your ultimate conversion goals and key performance indicators all follow suit, but only after the initial distinction between B2B or B2C is made.
Managers, owners, C-level executives, and the like are all your potential clientele. Knowing how to reach this clientele is often challenging, as a series of roadblocks – or gatekeepers – is often in place to keep you from interacting with them directly.
These hurdles that block you from direct contact with decision-makers are the key challenge that you’ll have to overcome when deciding on B2B marketing channels, and how to allocate your resources – both time and money – in order to reach them.
So, how do we reach them?
Content marketing is one of the best ways to spend marketing dollars for any type of business, but with B2B marketing, there are subtle differences to take note of.
While blog posting is effective, it needs to be catered to a professional audience. What’s far more effective is using whitepapers and eBooks, case studies, webinars, and infographics to reach your potential customers. These types of content are often quite successful with professional types, and as such a bulk of your content marketing dollars should be spent creating the content that feeds your funnel.
Blog content is often used for search engine traffic, social shares, and generally attracting new eyes to your business. From there, you’ll need to collect the leads so that you can begin marketing to your new prospects from the moment they enter your funnel. Offering whitepapers, eBooks and the like is often the best way to do this, and generally, this type of information is given away free, in exchange for an email address and/or additional contact information. This contact infromation is your direct path to your customer without the hinderance of the gatekeepers who intend to keep you away.
Social Media Channels
Social media is still quite effective for B2B marketing, but not in the same ways it is for B2C businesses. While the B2C focus is on creating large fan pages with huge followings, the B2B social media campaign is all about reaching a particular subset of your market – the decision maker.
Facebook ads are great ways to target business owners and c-level executives. The ad platform allows you to custom tailor your approach and creatively market to the select few that you wish to reach. While your intention isn’t to build hugely popular pages, your page will ultimately be the gateway that segues potential clients from the ad, to the page, and then on to your website and (hopefully) into your funnel.
LinkedIn is another fantastic option. While Facebook pages are great for B2C audiences, LinkedIn allows you to do the same sort of marketing to a demographic consisting largely of professionals, business owners, and executives. LinkedIn has an ad platform as well, but the targeting options aren’t nearly as good, nor is the ROI in comparison to Facebook.
Cold calling and direct mailing are generally considered terrible ways to reach decision makers. While it’s not a complete waste of time, the success rates are low enough that it becomes imperative to think of better ways to spend your time.
Networking events, advertising in industry-specific trade publications, and event sponsorships are often the best ways to reach the B2B client.
Business-to-consumer marketing takes out a lot of the barriers that are present in B2B sales. While customers will always have objections, and there are always additional walls to break down in order to convert them, you don’t have the additional hassle of trying to make it past the gatekeeper, or the difficulty in targeting that comes with B2B.
Blogging is a great first step for reaching your potential audience. Unlike B2B, you don’t necessarily need to reach a professional clientele, so the posting should be catered more toward the informal.
Keep a personable tone in your writing, inject humor where applicable, and keep them coming back for more. While every post doesn’t need to feature a hard – or even a soft – sell, you do need to start to nurture this audience toward a funnel. Doing that is often best left to providing value and enticing them to come back for future posts that they find informative, entertaining, or a mixture of the two.
Whil SEO is always a factor in content, the goal here should be less about search engines, and more about providing insightful or humorous content that will keep your visitors coming back, sharing, and telling their friends.
In addition, an oft-overlooked marketing channel for the B2C business is YouTube. Videos often take prominent positions atop search engine pages, and when looking for short and easily digestible pieces of information, video makes a great option.
Social Media Channels
Facebook, and Twitter are ideal channels for most B2C campaigns.
Marketing to your customers on Facebook is done via building a large following, and trying to entice users to like, share or comment on posts in order to further your reach. Initially, this audience is typically purchased through the ad platform, but after you reach a certain tipping point (which varies by business), the audience will start to grow organically.
Twitter marketing is best done through careful monitoring of brand-related keywords, and direct interaction with fans, or even those that dislike your product or service. Twitter search is a great way to spot people talking about the specific niche your business is in, and this can be a fantastic way to spark conversation about a similar interest with new prospects.
If you have a business that meshes well with the visual-centric userbase of Pinterest (design, gadgets, how-to, etc.) consider spending some time creating your own boards, and sharing the content of others. Pinterest is a phenomenal choice for businesses that fit their overall demographic, which is mostly female, and visually oriented.
Event sponsorships and advertising through traditional media channels such as print, radio and television are all great ways to reach a B2C audience.
While just about anything has the potential to work, what separates good and bad campaigns is targeting, and the analytical skills to quickly cut spending or tweak the campaign when the results aren’t there. Test, tweak and track results across multiple verticals, as well as using variations of ads on platforms that it remains feasible on (print, radio, etc.).
Whether B2B or B2C, the goal is the same. You have to reach your audience where they are, or find creative ways to bring them to you. No matter what type of customer you’re attempting to reach, there are marketing channels in place for you to reach them. Remember to test, tweak, and analyze the results in order to ensure your marketing spend is properly alloted to the highest performing channels.
How should that help guide your marketing channel selection and investment?