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Marketers in BtB companies can benefit from using a BtC marketing approach
Published in Marketing on May 10, 2020
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The best marketers within BtB draw on some of the pillars of BtC marketing. They understand that it is important to build a brand, know exactly who the customer is, what problems the customer needs to be solved and how this is communicated so it creates sustained awareness, engagement and final purchase. 

What is it then from BtC that a BtB marketing manager should include in the marketing plans and work?

The task BtB marketing faces is to educate potential customers, ensure that influencers and stakeholders know the products and convince them to choose one as the supplier rather than the competitors. BtB marketing must provide leads to the sales so that they have potentials to work with continuously.

That task is difficult and often somewhat underestimated. Partly because one must try to create sensational brands out of products and services that can be perceived as less sexy and are difficult to make attractive in the same way as consumer products.

However, successful BtB companies do as their colleagues within BtC. They understand that it is important to build a brand. Brand building is not just a discipline reserved for companies that sell products to consumers. Some of the biggest brands in the world - IBM, Microsoft, DHL, Salesforce, and SAP - are within BtB.

The definition of a brand is that it is a "promise delivered". You make a promise to customers and colleagues with everything you do, and, you deliver on that promise. A few examples of a good brand promise are FedEx, ”The World on Time” and Salesforce ”Start instantly on the out-of-the-box CRM built for small business growth”. Their promises are strong because they explain,

   what they do

   formulates a clear customer benefit

   creates an emotional connection

   creates curiosity

Strong brands are perceived as relevant, unique and compelling. They inspire customer loyalty and allow organizations to take a higher price for these products and services. A strong brand increases the bargaining power with business partners, facilitates hiring and retaining talented employees, and provides organizations with a clear strategic direction and platform for future growth. Overall, in the long term, this leads to economic development far above the average.

An essential part of the brand work is to define what one's company stands for. How did the company come about? What is the company's core story and thus its DNA. It talks about the positions of strength that make the company better than its competitors.

Based on this a customer offering can be prepared, which is the basis for the development of effective communication messages. The company's position in the market must be strong to withstand tough competition, changing market and social conditions. A unique value proposition is crucial to ensuring a sustainable competitive advantage that recruits more customers. the marketing to tell the customer about the value-added product or service creates and not about the company itself. The company must know and describe what is special about its customer offerings. What positive difference does the products and services do for the customer? Why does the customer choose your products? 

The unique benefits that customers are offered are crucial to use in marketing. As a potential customer, you are interested in the value that the company can create for me. In principle, the customer is not interested in the company. That is why it strengthens the marketing to tell the customer about the value the product or service creates and not about the company itself.

To target the company's marketing, one's target audience must be identified and described. Thinking BtC does not mean that the target group is just like ordinary consumers. The BtB target group is business people who are looking for the most economical, risk-free and valuable solution for their business. It is important to know the customer target well to optimize the company's marketing efforts. What do they want? What frustrations do they experience and what costs does it have for them? What benefits does the customer want to achieve and experience?

The criteria for the segmentation depend on one's markets, products and the information that is accessible. No matter how it is done, it is about finding the customers who will experience your message as relevant. The more accurately you understand your target audience, the better results will be achieved. Customer segments are both existing customers and potential customers. By focusing on a customer segment, you get to know a specific target group well enough to be able to optimize product offerings, pricing and marketing and thus create an opportunity for increased sales to the company.

When the customer segmentation is in place, personas must be prepared. A persona is fictitious customer or users who are so well described that they can be identified with existing or potential customers. They can thus be used to represent the company's target audience and help identifying with the customers. It is easier to get a message out or make content relevant when you know what catches customers' attention or what concerns they may have.

The first step in a BtB marketing campaign is to create communication that stays with the target audience long after they have seen the ad or message. Be creative and create new messages and slogans that differentiate the brand or company from competition and target the messages to the audience. Create a communication plan that runs over a longer period so that the target group's awareness and commitment are continually built up. Make sure there is a link between the campaigns and cross channels, whether it be Google Ads, social media, brochures, white papers, webinars, or the website.

Target audience should be able to recognize messaging (value proposition) and branding across all platforms. Although BtB is between companies, the decision makers are still ordinary people who also have humor and like the human aspect. Make sure the marketing materials speak directly and to the human side of the business world. In a situation where many BtB campaigns are close to boring, the personal will always get the most attention and be best remembered.

JHens Rohme - About the Author:

Senior partner in Porthos Group, Copenhagen - Denmark
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