Business marketing isn’t everyone’s forte — which is why you can find countless marketing professionals, each with a different focus area. Some are specialists at social media marketing, others are skilled content marketers, and others are outstanding with outbound or inbound marketing. These are among the more than 131 kinds of marketing identified by one chief marketing technologist. There are techniques, there are employment positions, and there is marketing based on the audience, with three focuses:
- B2C: Business to consumer marketing, or consumer marketing, is where your company’s product or service is marketed directly to the the customers, or end users;
- B2P: Business to person marketing, or person marketing, takes the message to a broader audience of individuals;
- B2B: Business to business marketing, or business marketing, is for companies whose product or service is best used by another business, and your marketing reflects that.
Despite the overwhelming list of of marketing categories, types, and techniques, understanding the basics of both marketing and business marketing can help you position your company for financial growth, increased brand awareness, and a strong start at a sustainable future.
Marketing 101: What You Need to Know
In many small businesses, the sales and marketing departments are grouped together. However, these are two distinctly different positions that are both needed for growth. Once you understand the difference, you’ll have a better chance of seeing both areas operating smoothly and accomplishing their different tasks.
The end goal of both is to convert more prospects, turning them into purchasing, faithful customers. Viewing both positions in their spots across the sales spectrum can help you avoid duplicate efforts and create a more efficient organizational structure as you work to develop your business marketing.
- Sales is the art and skill of working with qualified prospects to close a sale and, ultimately, leave with a completed transaction, contract, or agreement.
- Marketing is the strategic process you’ll take to develop qualified prospects for your sales team to contact.
The work each department does will be focused on interpersonal communication and interaction, but uses different tools and strategies. Sales is often done with face-to-face meetings, phone calls, or network events. You are getting to know the person on an individual, personal level.
Marketing, on the other hand, requires a greater understanding of the target audience as a whole. By creating an avatar, or a representative member of your body of potential customers, you’ll be able to paint a picture of your prospect: their demographics, their interests and likes, their frustrations and problems, and the places they are searching for solutions.
This avatar, then, allows marketers to put together a message for a variety of different media types, from news and advertising in print and broadcast media, social media platforms, e-mails, direct mail, and relationships with influencers to help further your message.
Many marketers have found that there are between seven and eight touch points required to move people down your sales pipeline: from target audience member to prospect, and prospect into paying customer. Marketing provides the touchpoints for the first transition.
Business Marketing: Honing In on Growth
Business marketing, as defined by B2B International, is “about meeting the needs of other businesses, though ultimately the demand for the products made by these businesses is likely to be driven by consumers in their homes.”
As a result, business marketing is the process of selling each of the components needed to put together the product or service that is sold to the consumers. B2B International’s example of a shirt is a great picture of the use of business marketing. A shirt doesn’t just show up one day to be sold in different stores or online.
Tracing the shirt back, you start with the cotton, picked, cleaned, and then spun and woven into fabric. The fabric is then cut and sewn into the shirt, manufactured, and then distributed to a variety of different outlets before being sold to the general public.
As each different company along the chain acquires the material, the purchasing business adds value to enhance the product that will ultimately be sold to the consumer and end user.
Five Business Marketing Basics You Need Today
1. A Clear Definition of Your Product or Service
Before you can start encouraging people to purchase your product or service, it’s important for you to have a clear, understandable definition of what you will be doing. Whether you offer a turnkey solution that meets the needs of other businesses, like Business Marketing Engine does by offering their customers the resources and tools to grow and automate their content marketing, or you take materials to produce a product that can later be sold to customers, you need to take the time and write these two statements.
- Discover your value proposition: This statement lets your customers know exactly what value you promise to give them. You’ll show customers why you are relevant to their lives and businesses by explaining the precise problem that your product or service solves. You’ll give customers a measurable value by listing the benefit they can expect to receive, and you’ll set yourself apart from the competition by telling the customers what makes you unique. This value proposition should be a key component for both your sales and marketing team members, as it will be an important part of developing a business marketing plan. If a customer were to ask themselves why they would choose your company, the value proposition is the answer.
- Write your mission statement: Your mission statement is the answer to a customer’s “What” question about your company. Not only does it keep everyone in your organization focused on the what and why they are there, but it also motivates and engages your target audience. This piece shares the goals, values, and principles of your business, while telling the audience how you will meet their needs. I recently wrote about the four steps you can follow to write a good company mission statement.
Until you know who you are, and what your business represents, you won’t be able to put together message that explains how you will add value to another business
2. A Clear Definition of Your Target Audience
- Once you know who you are and what you do, and you can accurately put both of those into words, you need a well-defined target audience. Unless you are advertising something vital for human life, “everyone” is not the correct answer when asked who is in your target market. Your target market should include the unique details that will set your prospects and buyers apart from others.
For example, a company that produces re-usable shipping materials and dunnage will look for a company that specializes in the production and assembly of larger components. Marketing to a homeowner won’t do them any good, but looking for an auto manufacturer, maker of medical parts, or a company that makes the pieces that go into putting together an airplane could help them grow their business.
How can you go about creating your target audience?
- Start by analyzing your current customers. What most interests them? What need does your product or service fulfill? What do they have in common? Look at their average budget, their unique products or services, and their own customers. Listing their commonalities can help you start to shape your definition.
- Think outside the box. Once you know how your current customers are using your product or service, think about other ways you might be able to branch out. Is there another industry that might also benefit from what you are offering? What other needs can be met by using your product or service?
- Look at your competitors. Review their marketing, their Web sites, and their social media platforms to see who they are targeting. Rather than trying to target the same market, especially if they are already well established, see if there is anything they’ve possibly missed, and promote your product or service to that overlooked industry.
- Combine the different variables. Take each of the common characteristics you’ve found, and analyze the audience as a whole. Is the market large enough to support your business? Is there a definite and clear benefit for them? Are they able to afford your product or service?
3. A Clear Goal
Business marketing goals can run the gamut of possibilities. Whether you want to move into a new target audience or market, introduce a new product or service, or roll out a special or promotion structure, deciding upon your goal is paramount to a successful campaign. Each goal needs to meet three different criteria.
- Goals should be meaningful: You goal should be relevant to your overall business goals, including growth and expansion, and should fit the parameters of your industry, abilities, and target market. A meaningful goal will be one that will make the most of the time and resources that need to be invested. It will serve a purpose, rather than just serving as a time-filler.
- Goals should be manageable: Develop goals that you can complete. For example, unless you have content ready to go, completing an overhaul of your Web site in one day is not a manageable goal. Consider the time it will take to not only start a goal, but to maintain and update the work you’ve done.
- Goals should be measurable: Your goals should be quantifiable. Know where you are starting, and then look at where you want to be. The goal should make you stretch, but should also be reachable, based on your research. A goal should have an end date — this way, you will know what you’re aiming to reach, and the date by which you want the goal completed.
4. A Clear Message
Decide upon the message that you want to communicate to your audience. The wording should be actionable and clear, and should give your target audiences enough information to whet their appetite and a call to action that spurs engagement and activity. Online, look for your perfect keyword, which will improve your search engine optimization. You’ll see better results with a little bit of time invested in research.
5. A Clear Business Marketing Plan
A business marketing plan will be the strategic blueprint that helps you decide how to move forward with each different component of your business marketing. It helps to create cohesive, effective campaigns that accomplish your determined goal.
The business marketing plan helps you to coordinate your marketing efforts, making sure that you’ve covered all of your bases. It pulls together everything from search engine optimization and business listings, to improving and enhancing your Web site to accommodate mobile users. The marketing plan puts together a timeline that helps you to stay on track and focused on your goal.
Look at your target audience and determine where you are more likely to find the key contacts you need to reach to expand your business. Some social media outlets may be more likely than others; LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest, depending on your industry, may be more effective than, say, Snapchat. Many business marketing plans heavily factor in content marketing that is shared through blogs, e-mail, or podcasts.
Each of these are different touch points that will strengthen your brand and move the prospect down your sales funnel. Forbes noted that Apple has done a great job of incorporating these touch points, making for a pleasant user experience, from their easy-to-use Web site to their satisfaction questionnaires.
In each part of your plan, account for cold, warm, and hot prospects.
- Cold prospects are the ones who haven’t yet learned about you — the first point of contact is usually public relations and advertising efforts.
- Warm prospects have heard your message before and may have even had some level of interaction or engagement with you, and often react through e-mail, customer appreciation events, and other programs designed to draw them closer.
- Hot prospects know your message, may have already spoken with someone on your sales team, and are often only one or two points of contact away from closing the deal.
If you’re not sure where to start with your business marketing plan, give us a call. With more than 50 years of experience and 21 different solutions, Business Marketing Engine has the tools you need to grow your plan, expand your business, and move you forward. Book a free consultation to get started.