When speaking about marketing, we automatically think about strategies aimed at the final consumer (B2C), but in doing so we ignore an important part of the business network, we forget the business-company activity (B2B).
When it comes to consulting marketing for these types of companies, you realize that the global methodology can be applied perfectly, but with certain peculiarities.
Why should I bet a B2B company for a digital strategy?
1. Digital world: companies and people have evolved
As with B2C strategies, B2B companies must adapt to the times if they do not want to fall behind and end up losing sales.
To explain this fact, nothing better than objective data:
- The penetration of Smartphones worldwide is above 60% in 2017
- Internet penetration is at 57% (2017). Clear sign of what happened 2 years ago: Internet traffic is greater from mobile devices than from computers.
- 49% of worldwide E-Commerce sells to professionals, but only 9% do so exclusively.
- 59% of B2B companies sell online.
You do not have to give a lot of data to realize a fundamental fact for companies, their buyers have more and more a digital profile, so if they want to sell or have a digital strategy or they will have problems in the short and medium term.
2. Advantages of a B2B digital strategy
The data of the digital context make clear several things. The most important is that the B2B digital presence is growing, but it still has a lot of room for improvement.
What does the internet represent for these companies? Why should they go online?
We have to take into account the context in which we move. In general, these are companies that have been operating in a little or no digital environment for a long time, and where, until recently, everything worked apparently well without the internet.
The most basic advantages are:
Adapt to the market
The first is the simplest. If we remain anchored in the usual way of doing things, if we do not evolve to adapt to the new circumstances of the market, our business model will lose its meaning and will end up being obsolete.
Until now, many business models have been able to survive without adapting, but that margin is ending.
This is the most logical and the reason for many companies to decide to make the change and bet on the Internet.
Normally there are two cases either offline sales have started to fall or they are evolving correctly, but they need to grow more.
It makes perfect sense to make the decision to digitize the company to sell more, but to make things right this decision must be made before having the urge to sell.
We must get ahead of that urgency to prepare the strategy, the processes, the communication channels, our staff, etc. well. In this way we are prepared so that the results arrive and we avoid the problems that arise when things are done in a hurry.
By selling on the Internet we not only increase the chances of selling more in our market, but we open the door to internationalization.
Of course, it will bring us greater complexity in management or logistics. But the opportunities that will open will allow the company to grow.
Control of competition
It is a good way to maintain or improve your market position.
For small companies Internet is a good way to gain market share to the big ones and for the big ones it is one more way to protect their quota limiting before the threat of the small ones.
Control and optimization of resources
The Internet, in addition to being a communication channel with lower costs (at least compared to traditional media), allows us an exhaustive control of the performance of our investments.
A company can not be digitized overnight. Before you have to take into account the characteristics of the B2B purchase process to be able to adapt them to your online strategy.
3. Characteristics of the B2B purchase process
We are talking about professionals who, as part of their work, look for a solution to a specific problem. The phases that the buyer and the company go through are similar to those of the B2C sale, but the behaviors are very different.
Making informed purchasing decisions
The purchasing decision maker performs a thorough search of the company that can solve the problem that needs to be solved.
If this is a clearer trend in the B2C world, in B2B it is something that comes standard.
Normally, the person who buys is a specialist and is clear about whether the company in front of him can help or not.
But sometimes, the problem he wants to solve is to cover a new area where he and / or the company have little knowledge. In these cases it is very important that our sales arguments are simple to understand and generate enough confidence, as to include the company among their possible purchase options.
Contact us with the advanced purchase decision
As a consequence of this informed decision-making, when they contact the company, they already have a large part of the purchase decision made. They contact the company to verify that they can provide the service and if the cost fits their budget.
They seek to solve a specific problem
Although they do not have clear the final solution, if they start from a problem or need they need to cover. The contacted company must have this point in mind from the beginning. First the solution and then the extras that can improve or refine the result.
Looking for a partner in the medium term
Especially when it comes to services, they look for a company that accompanies them all the way. That defines the problem, the solution and guides them in its execution.
They are results oriented
Because as I said in the first point, they need to solve a specific problem. Therefore they demand a solution that remedies it.
4. Pillars of a B2B digital strategy
Considering what we have seen so far, what should our strategy be based on to be successful?
Educate and train
We have to demonstrate our knowledge before they contact us. And for this the best way to help them make the purchase decision is to show our knowledge explaining the benefits of our solution (product or service), teaching success stories where they can feel identified, testimonials from satisfied customers, etc.
To achieve this the center of our strategy, we need the perfect content. Contents that the decision maker must find in his previous investigation.
Customization of the offer
Offering the product that adapts 100% to what they need is the key to everything. In B2C it is equally important, but the volume of clients and the costs that it would bring make personalization impossible in all cases.
But in B2B it is basic. If the buyer does not feel that it is exactly what he needs, he will not make the purchase.
We can educate them through our contents before they contact us, but when they do, the deal must be person to person. It should generate a relationship of trust that makes them see that they are not just another number, that they see that we think of the best solution for their specific problem.
Obviously both in the customization of the solution, as the person-person treatment, we must find ways to make them scalable. And therefore we will have to resort to a certain standardization, but this should be small enough, so that it does not prevent fulfilling everything we are discussing.
And finally, but most importantly, throughout the process we must convey enough confidence so that the buyer decides on our option. In addition, this confidence does not end at the time of purchase. From that moment we must fulfill the promises made and show that we really were the best option.
How to define a digital B2B strategy
As in B2C marketing strategies, we must work in two directions: from the inside out and vice versa.
In the first case, the way to publicize the company and its services / products has less than paid means and more than own and earned means.
We must also bear in mind that in most cases the sales are closed in person, so we have to control and facilitate the jump on-off and off-on.
Then I leave you an outline of the strategies to apply in each medium. In future posts I will delve into the definition of an online strategy for B2B.
As it is a professional service and, therefore, aimed at a reduced and specialized audience, the use of paid media must be specially segmented and oriented 100% to the affinity of the audience.
Display campaigns in specialized sites, retargeting, ppc and social ads to promote content, email marketing… these are the most effective types of channel strategies.
Here is the basis of the strategy. The web, the blog, the call center… should be the axes on which we rely and to which we direct the traffic of our actions.
As a consequence of the importance of content, SEO is another important channel, along with public relations and work with influencers.