Business-to-business is actually a new concept in marketing. At 15 years, it has just been regarded as totally different from consumer marketing. Although it is the consumers who are the actual end-users of B2B businesses, each B2B business has its own distinct demand for products in the process of producing consumer goods, whether one B2B company involved has a direct consumer under it or it has to pass on its product to the next chain in the process in order to reach the general public. Thus, it is apparent that B2B marketing is differentiated and so clearly defined for our own marketing purposes.
In a research paper by Matthew Harrison, Paul Hague and Nick Hague of B2B International, a quite detailed approach to the uniqueness of B2B Marketing has been discussed concentrating on purchasing decision, market segment behavior, and product and service quality involved along with opportunities for marketers in these areas.
Targeting the right purchase decision-maker
B2B companies have different needs unlike the consumer market. Most buying decisions are decided upon by a group of people from a specific division of a company which involve considering the concern of a group rather than that of the purchasing officer, for example. The marketer should be able to identify which group to target and how to communicate to this group to answer its needs for a successful marketing campaign.
B2B marketing trends and behavior
Being able to know the trends in the B2B market is a highly valuable information in identifying what the market needs and how to meet these needs. Based on the research, the B2B market is often rational which means that the products should always be in good quality, these are delivered on time and the prices are reasonable. It also said that the B2B market demography is relatively small compared to that of the consumer market although B2B market usually spends much more than how the consumer market spends which implies the need for the marketer to come up with great customer after sales service and value-added support. Unlike the consumer market which usually has up to 12 segments, the research gave only 4 segments on B2B market behavior – those who are concerned with price, quality and brand, service or partnership. The marketer’s job then is to carefully stratify the market through research into these segments – which is not an easy thing to do because intangible areas for customer support have to be identified – but certainly is good marketing if we have to determine the best strategy to penetrate the targeted segment. And instead of jumping into the bandwagon when it comes to trends in innovation, the research said that using research in the B2B market innovation trends will provide reliable results in determining which innovation will apply to the products as B2B markets rather thrive on customer service, product quality and long-term relationships.
Focus on product knowledge and service quality
Unlike B2C (Business-to-Consumer) companies where consumers are given product options that usually feed their fancy, the complexity of B2B products require highly technical and experienced sales people to provide after sales service, problem resolution and client management. Face-to-face interactions are important between the seller and the client in order to build a long-term relationship as most B2B companies rely on the trust of a loyal customer base which continually needs to order machine parts, consumables or office supplies. This means that B2B buyers are long-term buyers and since they buy repeatedly, it is crucial that extra care is given to each client. And even if the consumer market thrives with packaging and sub-branding, this strategy is less important with B2B marketing since B2B companies are mostly knowledgeable with brands and what retains good business is the selling company’s product expertise and drive in customer relationship-building.