SME guide to B2B marketing

James G. Cole

If you’re responsible for marketing within a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), you will be fully aware of its importance. This handy guide will help you use the right strategies and channels to promote your business effectively.

You’ll probably be re-assessing your marketing strategy in light of recent economic events. The importance of knowing how to market yourself effectively and successfully to your B2B audience using the right strategies and channels is vital to ensure your activity delivers the desired return on investment.

What is B2B marketing? 

B2B (business-to-business) marketing refers to the strategy and actions used to target and sell goods or services specifically to other businesses and companies.

When marketing to businesses, you will be targeting individuals who are looking for solutions or products for their organisation, rather than for themselves.

How is B2B marketing different to B2C? 

The key difference between B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing is that B2C is focused on selling to individual consumers instead of businesses.

While the end goals may be similar (selling or promoting your service or product), the sales cycle and lead times of B2B tends to be longer and more complex. This means that your strategy needs to be tailored to match this potentially long-term process.

Additionally, B2B audience types are going to have contrasting goals and motivations, so how you communicate with your target personas is going to be considerably different. There may also be some complex levels of decision makers and influencers.

For example, a business will be more interested in return on investment (ROI) and are happy to communicate with sales or account managers, whereas a consumer is looking for a good offer or deal and will want to make their purchase directly, so you’ve got to think about how this will affect your messaging and the call to actions used in your communications.

Finally, the marketing channels you choose may differ based on where your audience is going to be active.

B2B marketing strategies for SMEs

Before you can decide on your B2B marketing strategy, you need to take a closer look at your audience personas and competitors.

It’s also beneficial to review and evaluate your current or previous marketing efforts to measure their success and see where you can improve.

Here are our five recommended steps for building a successful marketing strategy:

  1. Carry out a competitor analysis

First, you need to know your position in the market. This will help you to establish who your competitors are and how you’re different to them. These are also referred to as your Unique Selling Points (USPs).

At Purpose Media, we suggest carrying out an audit. This is where you review their social media channels, content and website to get more of an understanding of their audiences, messaging and tone of voice.

This will help you to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – also referred to as a SWOT analysis – so that you can plan to outshine your opposition.

     2. Understand your target audience

 Once you’ve completed your market research and know who your competitors are targeting, you should have a clearer idea of your target audience and what their goals and pain points are.

Understanding what motivates them, why they would require your service or products, and the different steps they take through the buyer’s journey is essential. All of this information will enable you to create your buyer personas and choose the correct messaging for speaking to them.

      3. Analyse your previous marketing 

 As part of your wider B2B marketing strategy, you should be continuously analysing and reviewing your campaigns, otherwise you won’t know what has worked or not.

Look back over the last couple of years and see which campaigns were your most successful, and if they weren’t, why was that? This will support with choosing the most suitable marketing channels to use moving forwards.

      4. Set your objectives

 If you don’t know what your goals and objectives are, then you will find it difficult to achieve rewarding results. Being able to refer to a business plan is a great starting point as this will enable you to focus on the right strategies.

For example, the business plan may be focused on winning more work from existing clients. In which case, your marketing strategy and promotional tactics will be about identifying which products or services they currently buy and how they can be upsold more.

If the plan is to win more new clients, expand geographically, or grow by launching new products or services this again will shape your marketing strategies.

Goals are important for growth and could range from getting new business, increasing organic website traffic and boosting conversions, to improving engagement and building your followers on social media.

The whole business needs to be in agreement of what these are going to be before you begin your marketing strategy, as they will determine how you will evaluate success in the future. Ideally, these should be linked to your business plan.

  1. Pick the most suitable channels

While carrying out your competitor analysis, you will have seen where your competitors are active. If you know that they are successful on certain channels, it may be worth considering using these yourself (if you haven’t done so already).

There may also be missed opportunities from your competitors which you could take advantage of. For example, are they posting on all social media channels, if not then why? Could one of them still be relevant to you?

However, don’t use a marketing channel for the sake of it. It could take up some of your precious time, and if your target audience isn’t present there, it won’t help to achieve your goals.

B2B marketing channels

 The following channels can be used by B2B companies to target their audiences.

Email marketing 

Emails are a tried and tested way of reaching businesses. They can lead to engagements and subscribers.

Email can be used for specific sales campaigns that portray how your products or services might resolve their problems, or to send advice and news. It’s important that the content of your email resonates with its audience and things that matter to them – like ROI, saving time and improving productivity.

You can also use emails to share blogs, articles, PR (public relations) and news, all of which fall under content marketing.

Content marketing

Writing valuable content can attract organic traffic to your website and position you as the experts in your field.

Successful content will help your audience to understand how you can solve their pain points, grow brand awareness, and educate them on your service or product offerings.

Content marketing can come in different forms, including blogs, e-books, white papers, and PR, so you need to work-out which type of content will attract your target personas too.

Social media marketing 

Using social media is also relevant for B2B marketing, as long as you choose the right platforms.

For instance, whereas Instagram may be viewed more as a consumer-led site, LinkedIn is often a great choice for businesses as it’s where they are most present.

Social media is where you can show-off the personality of your brand, build awareness and share your content marketing. It’s also a great free tool if you’re posting organically.

Alternatively, paid social media adverts can often be helpful if you’re looking to reach a new audience. Refer back to your personas and use their likes, interests and demographics to build the audience for your adverts.

 Digital marketing 

B2B digital marketing covers where you have a digital presence, such as Google adverts, your website and search engine optimisation (SEO).

First of all, this involves making sure that your website is easy-to-use and informative. The content on there needs to support the buyer’s journey, otherwise it will be difficult to make them convert.

You can also support your web content with on-page SEO. If your content isn’t optimised, it won’t be easy to discover.

Finally, you can support your digital presence with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Similar to paid social adverts, these will help get your brand in front of new audiences via search engines, like Google.

 Invest in B2B marketing

While you may have the time and resources to do most of your B2B marketing in-house, it might be worth considering outsourcing certain elements to an agency, so that you can focus on other areas of the marketing mix.

Purpose Media offers a wide range of support across PPC, SEO, copywriting, social media, video and digital PR.

Additionally, we can help with identifying your buyer personas, tone of voice and wider brand identity.

Get in touch today to find out how we can grow your business.

SME guide to B2B marketing

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