3 Types of B2B Marketing and How to Determine Which Is Best for Your Company
When it comes to B2B marketing, there’s not a single one-size-fits-all approach. There are countless ways to reach a potential audience. However, Nichols B2B has found that there are three broad types of marketing that we find most effective — traditional, inbound and account-based marketing. Each has its own unique characteristics and advantages.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the three types of B2B marketing.
This is the type of marketing most people think of when they hear the word advertising. The idea is to increase brand or product awareness among buyers and decision-makers in companies who are in your business-to-business sales target audience. This includes tactics such as trade publication ads, direct mail, trade shows — even cold-calling. But, don’t think traditional means outdated ideas. Contrary to what some modern trends may claim, traditional media is not old-fashioned — nor is print dead.
For example — traditional direct mail campaigns are smart and sophisticated and often capitalize on new technology. Here’s a great example of something innovative from SDI. There’s also plenty of proof that printed pieces have impact for B2Bs.
Traditional marketing also includes using organic and paid social media channels to cast a wide net and the use of email to reach individuals and companies on your contact list. Get past the notion that emails are a dated concept and understand the power they possess to build and nurture relationships — the very core of sales. Douglass Burdett of The Marketing Book Podcast describes B2B email marketing as “sexy” and points out its overall effectiveness, with 63% of marketers citing email as the channel that offers the best ROI.
The thing to remember about traditional marketing is that it relies on great concepts and targeted messaging. Fresh approaches and ideas that cut through all the clutter are still vital. Remember, “traditional” does not equal tired marketing clichés.
While it’s currently a hot trend, inbound marketing is nothing new. Traditionally referred to as “pull,” inbound marketing is a technique that draws in customers to products and services instead of reaching out to them — known as “push.” Inbound marketing is designed to improve the customer experience by providing information they are interested in. The main idea is to create awareness of your company through blogs, social media and other online tools using quality content that attracts followers. Content can be tailored to a particular audience and directed to them. Inbound marketing is especially useful because today’s media-savvy consumers can often tune-out traditional marketing.
According to Forbes B2B marketing has sharp contrasts to business to consumer marketing. They point out that B2B has a smaller lead pool, a different type of product knowledge, a longer-decision-making process and more — all of which lend themselves to the benefits of inbound marketing.
Lead generation. Because B2B companies often have smaller lead pools, inbound marketing is a proven way to get customers who want to hear from you, creating stronger leads. Inbound marketing first attracts potential customers through specific and relevant content. It then leads to those prospects signing up for more content opportunities, adding to your prospecting database and giving you the ability to contact or advertise directly to them.
Focus on expertise. Mainly because B2B decision-makers are usually focused on a specific area of expertise, they need to know more than the fact that your company offers the widgets they need. It’s important for them to know that you understand their specifications, engineering criterion, cost constraints and more. That is the type of in-depth knowledge that can be shared through quality content.
Cost savings. Inbound marketing works well for B2B companies in a large part due to costs. It is less expensive to create compared to traditional marketing because there are no printing or media costs. Plus, inbound marketing is economical because it’s directed only at certain targeted audiences, rather than trying to reach everyone.
Although inbound marketing can be more streamlined, both traditional and inbound marketing can be used to cast a fairly large net, hoping to attract various potential customers. Account-based marketing (ABM), on the other hand, uses highly targeted, personalized campaigns aimed at specific targets to win customers.
Great ROI. ABM is both personalized to a specific company and optimized for their specific needs. While it can be costly, when done well it has great results and effective ROIs. In 2014, ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey found the “ABM delivers the highest return on investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.”
Go Big. ABM is ideal for B2B companies that sell to large, key accounts in specific industries. LinkedIn outlines specific steps that include identifying high-value accounts and the key decision-makers, define and create targeted campaigns, pinpoint channels, develop strategies, then execute your plan. It’s a big undertaking, but also comes with the potential for bigger rewards.
Find Your Type
Smart B2B companies do not invest the entirety of their budgets to a single type of marketing but use a strategic mix of tactics from all three B2B marketing concepts to increase brand exposure and message frequency across as many target audience touchpoints as possible. This is how to effectively create a greater overall brand and product awareness.
While each type of B2B marketing has its own pros and cons, the trick is determining what works best for your company and will be most effective to attract the type of clients you need. That’s why we recommend working with an experienced B2B marketing firm to help you navigate your way. If you need a guide, send me an email at barmbruster@WeTellYourStory.com to start a conversation today.
- Resident B2B expert
- First agency position in 1997, joined Nichols in 2002
- Splits time between creative leadership and account service
- Remembers every detail about clients and their businesses
- Coffee connoisseur, music enthusiast and fair-weather runner