The switch from B2C to B2B

B2B marketing is more closely tied up to both sales and product functions of the company, and it is a marathon, not a sprint. So how do you prepare yourself for it?

All marketers come from a B2C background. Whether as a marketer or a customer, B2C marketing is something they have all been greatly exposed to, and have a fair understanding of. What happens, the different channels that exist, the channels, ways and methodologies that work. Etc. Etc.

B2B marketing, as a field, is new to these people. And venturing out there, in the dark unknown, it is never as easy as you think - no matter how well you believed you had prepared yourself.

So. Is b2b marketing really all that different from b2c?

Well. Yes, and no.

Yes because fundamentally speaking, the strategic approach to both would be quite similar.

And no, because while the same tactics you used during your b2c marketing days may work for b2b as well, it won’t be as effective. Some times, not even close. But that is most of the times the result of a faulty execution, stemming from the marketer having made some faulty hypotheses.

2 kinds of people in this world

Those who think b2b and b2c marketing are one and the same, and those who think they couldn’t be more different.And you couldn’t convince one of the other.

Which group do I belong to?

Well, I’ll give you a hint. I believe that at the very core, all businesses are governed by the same basic principles. Ergo, they have more ‘sameness’ than we think.

Businesses, who couldn’t be more different from one another. If I think they are the same, why would I feel differently about marketing in a different category of business. :-)

If you are someone who feels there is a difference between b2c and b2b marketing, and you need to prepare yourself for that shift, let us start by reminding you of one very obvious truth. Even in b2b marketing, you are not marketing to a ‘business’. You are still marketing to an actual individual, a person - much like how you did during your b2c days. The moment you realise that, the lines start to fade away.

So how, if at all, is b2b marketing different?

Well. You may be marketing to an individual, but he may not be the ultimate decision maker all the time. So you need to make a compelling sales pitch to him in a way that he feels confident enough into making a sales pitch for you (your product and/or services) within his organization to the actual decision maker(s). And since he is eventually going to be the one making the actual sales pitch, it becomes your job as a marketer to have equipped him with the right arsenal to make that pitch as compelling and effective as possible.

And this internal dynamics could come in many shapes and forms. It could be a team lead that just needs to get the buy-in of the senior management, or it could be a junior associate trying to get an approval from his team lead - who then needs to get the buy-in from the senior management.

That’s it. That’s all the difference, and that is the only thing you need to be mindful of.

Btw, a quick tangential topic. A fun side note, if you may. I just read a quote somewhere “brands grow through customer acquisition, not customer loyalty”. Wow! Whoever came up with that stinking hot pile of shit? I did not think I will ever need to say this, but reading this makes me feel I should. If you come across garbage quotes like that, treat them as such. Dump them. Of course brands grow through customer loyalty. Businesses are not built on top of just customers, businesses are built primarily on repeat customers. Repeat customers, or loyal customers add value to your business in infinitely many ways. They increase the LTV/CAC ratio, improving the health of your business. Their usage behavior will give you much needed insight on what aspects of your products work, and what needs to be worked on. Their feedback would form the foundation of your product roadmap. And most importantly, a loyal and happy customer will bring in many more customers for you. So, anyone who says businesses don’t grow through customer loyalty, I definitely don’t want any of what you are smoking.

So, how do you do b2b marketing?

Remember it is more closely tied with sales metrics

Whether you are in b2b or b2c, businesses are in the business of making money, so revenue is a metric you will always be mindful of. But in b2c you did not have a sales function per say. Your job was to get more customers, to bring back more customers and so on. In b2b, your job is still the same, but everything has an extra layer to it. While in b2c, you cared less about the timegap between transactions of that returning customer, in b2b, it is one of the most pertinent goals. Especially in SaaS businesses. Keeping customers transacting with you month after month is the goal. Churn - every b2b marketer’s worst nightmare.

It is no longer about instant gratification. You tend to be in it for the long haul

B2b sales cycles can be long, with a lot of touch points. Which is precisely why content marketing plays such an important and crucial role in b2b marketing. You are not necessarily looking at converting your customer today, but make them move through a conversion funnel. Whether it is b2b or b2c, any revenue is good revenue, so even a b2c marketer would not be disappointed with a customer that converted a few weeks or months after having marketed to that customer. The difference? A few. First, the sales probably would not even get attributed to that marketing effort. Since the number of such customers is so sparse, no b2c marketer is tracking attribution .beyond a short and immediate cycle. Second, even though he would welcome the sale, that was not the intent, and that was not the mindset with which the campaign was run.

The approach, the mindset becomes different. While a b2c marketer is looking for immediacy, a b2b marketer knows the sales would take some time, and go through a certain process. All he therefore wants, is to retain and stay engaged with the prospect, during that time, and process.

The Sale is not the end game

A b2c marketer can throw his legs up and relax once the customer has transacted. The job is to a large extent done. From there on, things tend to go more or less on an autopilot mode. Marketing promos and emails are sent, coupons are shared to bring the customer back, and what not.

For a b2b marketer, his role isn’t just tied to sales, but also product. Just making the sales isn’t enough. If your customer isn’t using your product, and if the product isn’t adding enough value to him, then he will churn out. Fast fast fast.

So you have to take the customer through the whole process. Onboarding, helping him see the value of the product, understand his expectations, learn his usage behavior. This is why a lot of b2b marketers spend so much time and money on coming up with tutorials, product guides and walkthroughs etc.

There. You have it. A good starting point for embarking on your journey as the b2b marketer - which almost every solo entrepreneur needs to be amazing at.

If you have any specific questions, send me a tweet. Would love to talk it out.

That’s it for today.

Cheers Abhishek

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