Why do traditional marketers screw up in a B2B setting?
After conducting 20 interviews with B2C marketers running eCommerce or other low-cost products, I decided to prepare a quick outline of B2B marketing and what makes it different.
As a HubSpot agency partner and a programmatic advertising partner scaling enormous publishers, we know how different the entire strategy is, especially as we are selling $50K – $300K solutions all the time.
Most digital marketers that I know of focus on the B2C audience because that is, in a way, how marketing started in the first place. You want to attract a large audience, touch base with quite a lot of people, and then start selling a product at scale.
Since B2B is generating a lot more revenue nowadays for various companies that manage to scale at low volumes and high margins, some digital marketers are switching to B2B and as a result, most of them are struggling to scale.
The B2B market is typically more complex and involves longer sales cycles, as decisions often require multiple stakeholders and thorough evaluations.
Unlike B2C marketing, where consumers may make impulsive purchases, B2B sales often need to build solid relationships, address specific pain points, and demonstrate the value proposition over time.
There are eight very common reasons why marketers who used to sell in B2C cannot easily adapt to B2B. Let us go over these reasons in order to understand how to transition better and eventually, adapt more effectively.
1. Differences In Price Range
It is one thing that you sell a lollipop or a candy for less than a dollar, but then it is completely different when you are selling a $500 software, a $20,000 service, or something along those lines. Obviously, the price range is different.
The buyer’s intent is different. The buyer’s decisions are different and the entire process of selling does not really align with what you are used to—selling at a high scale and low cost.
This is one of the things that is really pummeling most marketers switching to B2B as a result and they have to change their perception in order to get used to the buying cycle which, again, works in a completely different manner.
2. Longer Buying Cycle
If you have a one-dollar product, 10-dollar, or even 50-dollar product that you are trying to market and sell, most people are able to afford it. It works on an emotional basis and when it works like this, it is pretty much a matter of just intent to just click, pay with a credit card, and move on. Or, just go to the supermarket and buy it and then again, move forward.
But with expensive products, it is usually a more complicated decision. Think of a car or real estate. Again, marketing still works there; but, it is a different game. And the reason it is a different game is the whole process and the whole complexity of the buying cycle itself.
Because when you have a very expensive item, product, game, service, or anything else that you are about to sell in B2B, it is a complicated decision. It means that businesses need to talk to their Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), their investors or actually get a new investor. It is a more tedious and complex process. It takes more time and resources to actually make the final decision.
3. Different Decision Makers
With B2C, it is usually fairly simple. You are talking directly to the decision-maker and in the end, it is straightforward.
With B2B, it is usually more complicated. Try selling a Customer Relation Management (CRM) software. You are talking to the director of sales, chief marketing officers, CEO, secretaries, and assistants who are doing the research and a bunch of other people and influencers within the company.
Since it is a more complicated process, there are different decision-makers and more importantly, they have different problems in mind that you have to solve while marketing this product. This means that you have different funnels and you have to align those funnels to every single audience of yours.
Run different marketing campaigns that are catered to those audiences and then take everything from there, and combine everything to the bottom of the funnel.
4. Different KPIs In The Long Run
Again, the difference with buying a cheap product or service that does not really resonate well or does not really result in hitting some Key Performance Indicators (KPI) or something that can be emotionally driven like clothes, shoes, or bags is one thing.
You do not really measure KPI. You see if you like it or not, or if it is decent, and you get emotionally attached.
With B2B, for the most part, it is about ROI. It is about accomplishing or generating some goals. In fact, B2B marketing is complicated due to KPIs as well.
You have to track your B2B campaigns. This is probably something that you have already done on a B2C level as well. But on top of that, you need to actually lead people down the funnel, which is a much more complicated process.
You need to take a lot more steps to nurture them and account for the lifetime value of the customer further on in order to actually calculate their cost.
Also, unlike with B2C, you have a lot of different upsell opportunities with B2B. They may start with a freemium plan and switch to a paid trial or a low-cost plan, then just purchase more. You will probably cross-sell them another product.
So, even if the initial purchase is almost free or even free, you may actually get a lifetime value of 10’s of thousands of dollars per customer per year by switching to the B2B model.
That is why the game has actually changed. That is why it is actually worth spending a lot more time and doing a lot more activities in order to complete the sale at the end of the day.
5. Diverse Marketing Strategy
B2B digital marketing is not just about sending Facebook traffic to your landing page and getting prospects to buy something, or even letting people purchase right away on Facebook or on any other social media.
You are actually moving people down the funnel. You have top-of-the-funnel content, then you have some landing pages, and you have some freebies and brand campaigns. It becomes a lot more diverse in the process, especially since it goes through different channels.
Since this can easily become complicated, it is your goal to follow the entire process and to keep it intact with the entire marketing strategy, and make sure that everything is moving along the line.
6. Several Stakeholders
Be aware of the fact that you have different stakeholders to consider. It is not just decision-makers but it is also the stakeholders.
One thing that I did not mention in previous points is you may be influencing someone who is probably paying but not really getting the product or the other way around. The person who is purchasing the product may not essentially be the one who is going to do the due diligence. This is what makes the process a lot more complicated.
It is almost like with sales wherein, for the most part, you are going to go through the gatekeeper, and get a meeting scheduled with someone who is not the direct decision-maker but they are influencing the decision at the end of the day.
You may never actually have the chance to talk to the real decision-maker because they are busy and they have people who are doing most of the decision-making.
Or, you may have to influence two, three, or four people who are actually getting together in a room discussing different alternatives and then making a proposal or presentation for the senior management, CEO, CFO, or whoever is in charge of actually approving the payment.
7. Need for Warming Up Leads
With marketing, you can actually avoid sales. You do not need to have people calling phones, handling inbound leads, and so on. With B2B, sales is almost mandatory which ends up in a specific cycle that helps make marketing the combination of sales and marketing.
Together, this leads to creating an entire process of handling and warming up leads, and then sending them to the sales funnels and bouncing back and forth in order to improve the quality of those leads or warm them up even further.
This, again, moves the process a lot further down the road.
8. Stuck In The Old Ways
According to Mark Schaefer, Chief Blogger of BusinessGrow.com, there are four reasons why marketers are still stuck back in 2010.
Here are the reasons:
- The crushing pace of technological change
- Over-reliance on technology and automation
- Organizational paralysis
- Dramatic changes in consumer behavior instigated by tech
Technologies are evolving a lot more. Every now and then, there are more tools and software service solutions popping up such as CRMs, automation tools, and everything else.
So, people are really having a hard time adjusting, and employing something like this in a less traditional funnel is not really quite clear.
The over-reliance on technology, particularly automation, can sometimes make you get so used to having automated campaigns and auto-adjusting bits—this and that—that you are not really optimizing in the long run.
This route will turn out to be less efficient than you intended it to be. You may offload something to another party which is great but they may be charging 10%-20% on top of everything that you do which is actually crunching your margins and limiting your growth opportunities.
Growing companies may also experience organizational paralysis that makes it even harder to execute and make marketing work as expected. There could be different decision-makers within your own company which can be overcomplicating the process as well.
Lastly, technology is changing consumer behavior dramatically and this is also really important to realize. Why? Because with technology, a lot of people are actually making their purchasing decisions by reading a lot of information first.
A study by Harris Interactive reveals the following methods as some of the most common methods people use for gathering information before making a purchase:
- About 36% use a company website
- There are 22% who prefer a face-to-face conversation with a sales representative
- There are also 21% who find face-to-face conversations with a person not associated with the company valuable
About 59% of people these days still consult their immediate circles, like friends and family, to help them make a purchase decision.
Among others, people check reviews, testimonials, and case studies to get more in-depth information about certain products or services. It is not unlikely for buyers to head into a supermarket or even a specialized store having more knowledge about what they are looking for than the seller.
Often, the buyer is more educated than the salesperson representing the store itself due to all the research is done beforehand and information being available on YouTube videos, the unboxing and unpacking events, and whatnot.
In order to thrive in B2B as a marketer, keep up with your customers who are a lot more educated. Level up the game and figure out what are the actual pain points you need to solve.