So I have been helping companies market themselves for about a decade now. Most of the companies have been B2B. Each time I start, I hear the same thing: “We are too different, normal marketing doesn’t work for us.” Well, you’re wrong, not necessarily about “being different” but about what “normal marketing” is. The truth is that MOST business is B2B and MOST marketing is B2B.
McDonalds and Coke are the Exception, Not the Rule
When people think about “normal marketing” they think about how they have been marketed to personally. They think about all the ads they see on TV and in magazines. But you know what? Even though you SEE consumer advertising most of the time, B2B is actually the majority of businesses. In fact, most of the money in this economy is exchanged by companies you have never heard of. Companies like McDonalds and Coke may be familiar to YOU, but they actually represent a small percentage of the business world.
Your Problems are Common
Your products and services may be “niche” or specialized, but your problems are common. No matter how weird or unique your products are, your problems are just the same as everyone else’s “No one understands how good we are.” “No one understands all our products and services can do for them.” “If people understood our value we wouldn’t lose out on bids.” “We can’t get in front of the right people.” Sound familiar?
Your Solutions are Common
The process you need to go through to take your highly specialized, complicated, and unique services and products and make them accessible to your market are the same processes every B2B has to go through. A good tailor makes a different suit every time, but he still has the same process and methods. A contractor makes a different building every time, but he does them all the same way. Yes, you need unique and customized outcomes for your business, but the process to get there is common to all businesses.
The Word You Were Looking for is “Hard”
B2C marketing looks easy, (the qualifying word being “looks”), because we see it only from our end. All you do make a clever ad or commercial, buy lots of air time, and “poof” you have marketing, right? But that isn’t what marketing for B2C really is and, of course, that isn’t what B2B is either. When B2B says “normal marketing” won’t work, it usually means they understand that “easy marketing” won’t work. B2B marketing is hard, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary or very possible.
The Key to Great B2B Marketing is a Willingness to Change
Going back to the idea of “easy marketing,” most B2B people think marketing and sales can happen externally or “outside” of the company. “You go do your marketing stuff and leave us alone in here.” In fact, successful B2B companies focus mostly on internal marketing. This means having great customer service, integrated sales processes, educated staff, and automated systems to keep in constant communication with clients. If you want to grow your B2B company, you are going to have to make real changes. But don’t worry, so would B2C as well.