Why Do Digital Marketers Screw Up When Working In B2B?

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Why do traditional marketers screw up in a B2B setting?

After conducting 200+ interviews with B2C marketers running eCommerce or low-ticket SaaS, I prepared 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. Our larger contracts are way into the 7 figures as well.

And regardless of whether you’re hiring marketers or looking to grow into your marketing role, you have to start with the list of different marketing approaches first.

Ecommerce and SaaS vs. High Ticket

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 many people, and then start selling a product at scale.

Indie marketers who started with a side hustle or solopreneurship also tend to pick the low-cost, high-volume route. Examples:

  • Dropshipping
  • Ebooks
  • Cheap courses
  • Crafty DIY products

The commerce funnel (and user journey) is very different – with conversions happening right away within the same session.

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.

How Does Digital Marketing Work in B2B?

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.

Traditional Marketers and B2B

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 entirely different when you sell a $999 software solution, a $20,000 service, or a $100K/year retainer.

The buyer’s intent is different. The stakeholders are different (and plenty). Decision-making takes months and considers multiple personas at once.

The entire process of selling does not really align with what B2C marketers are used to—selling at a high scale and low cost.

No high-ticket deal has ever been closed with a single Facebook ad to a landing page. In B2B marketing, there’s the “Rule of 7” – you need at least 7 touch points with a key prospect before they even consider to buy.

(And that rule was invented in the 20s when competition was low and people aren’t blasted with ads wherever they go.)

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 can afford it. The transaction happens on an emotional basis and when it works like this, it is pretty much a matter of intent to 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. 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), the board, their investors – or sometimes seek a new investor for the transaction.

It is a more tedious and complex process. It takes more time and resources to get everyone aligned and sign the deal.

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 or a BPM SaaS. You are talking to the director of sales, chief marketing officers, CEOs, 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 must 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.

We authored the ultimate guide listing the biggest business challenges in the world to streamline this conversation for everyone in the B2B and SaaS spaces. It’s currently referenced and studied in over 15 universities as a strategic resource on segmentation and ICP problem solving.  

While targeting diverse decision makers, set up different marketing campaigns that are catered to those audiences and then take everything from there, pushing all conversations and agreements to the bottom of the funnel. 

4. Different KPIs In The Long Run 

Again, the difference between buying a cheap product or service that does not really resonate well or does not really result in hitting some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or something that can be emotionally driven like clothes, shoes, or bags, is one thing. 

You do not measure any KPIs while buying a pair of jeans or an ebook. You decide if the product suits it or not, whether it is decent, and you get emotionally attached enough to pay for it. 

B2B Marketers

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 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, some landing pages, and some freebies and brand campaigns. It becomes much 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. 

Let me explain…

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. 

formal marketing plan

Think about a barbie doll. Is it the 7-years-old buying them or their parents, and their friends’ parents buying birthday presents?

Laundry machines and dishwashers are often bought by husbands – but picked or derived via their significant other’s intentions.

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 have the chance to talk to the real decision-maker because they are busy and have people 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 to discuss different alternatives and then make 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 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
Why Marketers Are Still Stuck in 2010

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 get you used to having automated campaigns and auto-adjusting bits—this and that—that you are not 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, many 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.

Digital Marketing

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.

Drawing inspiration from Cuban’s insights in his book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It“, marketers can reframe their approach to B2B marketing, recognizing the need for patience, relationship-building, and a thorough understanding of customer pain points. The book serves as a reminder that success in the B2B arena requires more than just technical expertise—it demands resilience, creativity, and a willingness to learn from both triumphs and setbacks.

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