What is B2B Marketing? Examples & Key Strategies In Wholesale Business


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In the B2B realm, the way business conduct marketing is different from the consumer-targeted business. While consumer marketing is quite familiar to most of us as we shop for necessities every day, B2B marketing is more far-reaching. So what is B2B marketing in your opinion?

How are the B2B marketing strategy adopted for businesses in general and wholesale distribution in particular?

Let’s dive in this article to find out the answer.

what-is-b2b-marketing

What is B2B Marketing?

The meaning of B2B marketing from different perspectives

B2B marketing is a branch of marketing that derives from traditional consumer marketing.
According to Marketing School, Business-to-business marketing involves the sale of one company’s product or service to another company.

Another definition you can refer to is that it’s the marketing of products to businesses or other organizations for use in the production of goods for use in general business operations or for resale to other consumers.

Doing B2B marketing means you will market your products with more complexity in defining business customers’ purchasing behaviors.

B2B buyers who would be more rational in the decision-making process are in need of tailored messages & offers from the sellers. They also seek value-driven products and services while also preferring accessing educational information to make their jobs done.

B2B marketing with example

A very typical example of B2B marketing is the one in automobile manufacturing.

To make a final car, a manufacturer has to purchase tires, hoses, batteries, and electronics essential. The material is usually manufactured by separate companies. To sell their technical products, these companies mostly rely on sales function and account management team to strengthen the relationship with the car manufacturers.

Before these key functions begin, the B2B material companies could depend on different types of methods to get contacts from prospective automobile producers, such as presenting at trade conferences, direct selling, referral marketing,…

b2b-marketing-example

Walker, Vice President & CMO at Healthcare marketing firm C2B Solutions, said to Business News Daily: ”B2B marketing actions might include advertising in trade journals, having a presence at trade shows or conventions, digital marketing (online presence, SEO, email outreach) and other tradition awareness efforts”.

Difference between B2B and B2C marketing

b2b-vs-b2c-marketing

Below you can base on some key factors to differentiate the two terms from each other.

Differentiator B2C Marketing B2B Marketing
Goals
  • Provide products & services to meet consumers’ needs, & wants
  • Lead a life of indulgence, aspire to a good lifestyle
  • Only serve the business needs, or solve a specific business problem
  • Educate buyers and offer expertise
Targeted market
  • Mass market
  • Consumer markets can number in the millions.
  • Small-& highly specialized market
  • Some target only a few hundred prospects
Buying behaviors
  • B2C buyers are more emotional & base on status, security, comfort & quality when purchasing.
  • Individual decision maker in a single transaction.
  • Expert B2B buyers are less emotional, more task-oriented, & rational.
  • Various decision-makers representing various areas of expertise or interest.
  • Multi-step process over a period of time
Duration of buying Process Shorter sales cycle Longer & highly-structured sales cycle
Marketing Investments per contact Modest due to small transactions, low customer lifetime value High due to high transactions amounts & lifetime values
Brand, Communication & Trading  Approach
  • Brand identity generated via repetition & imagery
  • Persuasive messaging & media investment to generate demand such as ads, TVC, buzz
  • Merchandising & point of sale activities (coupons, vouchers,  displays, storefronts)
  • Brand identity generated via customized marketing communications & in-person contact
  • Detailed content production, education, consulting & handholding via direct mail, telemarketing, web cats webinar, newsletter, follow-up by sales reps.
  • Participate in trade shows, conventions to display products
Relationships Less personal contact Closer proximity in relationships
Product-related factors to consider Physical products are of greatest importance Product quality and other factors like a supply of materials, services, order handling, delivery and extension of credits.
Customization No or very few customizations in products, services, and prices Require a high degree of technical customization on products,  services & prices.

Now you might already know the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. Let us take a simple example of how each kind of marketing method approaches their customers. Then you can better visualize them and know how to play your own game.

Consider this: My product is a sunscreen gel.

My sun cream will protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun and help you decrease the risk of sunburn-like skin reactions, skin cancer, and premature aging (like wrinkles, leathery skin).

If I have a B2B client, they will be most concerned about the feature of the product which is how the sunscreen can absorb the UV radiation and prevent the ray from reaching the deepest layers of the skin. Even, the client also wants to discover the technology used to manufacture the sunscreen and other products-related material that helps them sell products to consumers more efficiently.

On the flip side, my B2C client will be most interested in the benefit which is the prevention of some sun-related diseases such as sun sensitivity, skin cancer, or premature aging.

When we understand the need of the B2B and B2C clients, we will be more effective in delivering the communication messages that could seclude them to buy our products.

b2b-marketing-strategy

B2B Marketing strategy for wholesalers & distributors

As wholesale buyers tend to make decisions based on their rational analysis, your marketing strategy should approach them in a more content-driven, education-oriented way. So along the customer journey, taking a consultative way to sell and close deals is the key.

3 areas of your B2B marketing focus

There are 3 facets when you consider making a wholesale marketing strategy:

  • Attracting new B2B buyers
  • Get more orders from wholesale customers
  • Increase wholesale sales

Now you know there are 3 main areas in your marketing strategy. Below we will give you some tactics to help you carry out each area successfully.

wholesale-b2b-marketing

Attract new B2B buyers

When you start your wholesale business, this is one of the most difficult parts.

Traditional wholesalers and distributors used to search and make a list of contacts based on their personal relationship. The whole company depended a lot on these mutual relationships between C-levels, sales reps and their counterparts.

Now digital changes how wholesale businesses find prospective customers. This transformation comes from the shift of B2B buyers’ behaviors and the digital acceleration of other fields.

B2B buyers today are becoming savvier with tech. They research for products and services via online resources before making decisions. The clients have shifted to the online environment more to quickly connect with the sellers. In addition, as the pace at which other industries are taking advantage of digital transformation, wholesale business would find it impossible to ignore the impact of online marketing.

Many wholesale distributors are having their presence online with various touchpoints.

Some of the most important digital methods are:

Build Online Presence with B2B portals

b2b-e-commerce-portal-1

Inevitably many retailers start to their research about a suitable supplier on Google.

You probably don’t want them to read about your products for the first time elsewhere because you couldn’t control all your info on these sources.

The official home site where you have a full handle on all messages and information will benefit you rather than other houses. So investing in a B2B ecommerce website or B2B portal is a must for every wholesale business who wants to reach more potential customers.

Imagine you have a B2B ecommerce portal that enables buyers to discover about your product offers. They can order your items online for their organization like they do with daily consumer goods for their family.

With an ecommerce website, they can also connect with the tailored promotions, discount, communication messages that you set up on-site based on their type of customers. These marketing activities are the crucial tactics that many businesses already do with their ecommerce sites.

In fact, the benefit of a B2B portal doesn’t stop there. It actually goes beyond the function of marketing.

Apart from bringing convenience to customers and delivering custom communication messages, a portal can give you a lot of benefits when it comes to conducting business.

A robust B2B ecommerce platform today can help many businesses automate their complicated process like customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management, order fulfillment management, billing & shipping management and so on.

A streamlined process run on a single system will be the ideal method to help the wholesale businesses not only sell more products to customers but also save more time and costs on the operation.

Create a Mobile Presence

mobile-app-for-b2b-buyer

B2B ecommerce now is going mobile. According to the Boston Consulting Group and Google, mobile speeds up time to purchase by 20% by increasing efficiency in the decision-making process and improving collaboration among team members.

Realizing the effectiveness of mobile in B2B selling, many wholesale businesses also expand their online presence and enhance their productivity for sales reps via mobile devices.

Mobile order app for buyers and mobile sales app for salespeople are some of the tools that could help wholesalers deliver more convenient purchasing experience for their customers.

Presence on digital marketplaces

Online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are useful points to start wholesaling. Although the competition is high on these sites, you can take advantage of them to catch customers’ attention. Then, you can link them to your official ecommerce site where more useful content will seduce them to buy your products.

Other traditional marketing methods like direct selling, direct mails, attending trade shows & conference will still be effective when it comes to finding more prospective customers.

Although there are various ways to pull customers to your site, the important thing is you can blend them together to make a powerful marketing plan that can convert more prospects into real buyers.

Get more orders by promotion tactics

b2b-promotion-strategy

After you have potential customers to register with you, the next step is to get them to place the first order. Promotion tactics are the key to encourage them in this case.

The focus here should be on removing customers’ barriers that prevent them from ordering.

Some barriers they may have in minds are

  • Not understanding enough about your merchandise
  • Order minimums level
  • The ordering process
  • Extra charges and fees on shipping, or packing.
  • Not being certain about the return policy and other purchasing conditions
  • Lack of support services

Which one is the barrier your customers are experiencing? Think about each barrier seriously.

If you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you can know exactly how to deal with the customers’ purchasing barriers.

For example, if your customer is not knowing enough about what you are selling, maybe you should re-examine the way you provide them with your product information.

As we have mentioned above, the portal is one of the efficient channels to display your goods’ images and information. Other marketing material such as sales brochures, step-by-step guides, videos on how to use products will also be effective too.

One of the most challenging barriers would be related to pricing. So to close the first deal with a potential customer, the old tried and true method is to use a coupon. On their initial order from you, it’s necessary to create a personalized coupon for a certain percentage off their entire order.

Other methods such as free shipping, sample pack are also some of the recommended tactics to stimulate prospects to open a new & close-knit relationship with you.

Increase wholesale sales

Now that many orders are flowing. It’s time for you to think about how to increase wholesale sales.

The target is more orders but also more large orders.

Some popular tactics that are worth trying in this phase:

Seasonal Campaigns

In the retail industry, it’s common to take advantage of special occasions such as Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving to offer consumers big discounts.

This tactic can work for the wholesale industry too. A seasonal campaign can capture the attention of your customers at a time of heightened sales and strengthen your relationship with them.

One thing to remember is as your orders could increase substantially during the campaign, you should leave enough time to deliver goods to your wholesale customers before the date. Also, don’t forget to adjust your promotion dates accordingly.

b2b-marketing-campaign

Anniversary Celebration program

Every relationship has the beginning.

Remember when your customer make the first deal with you?

Yep, you should. Since your customers wouldn’t remember it, it will a big surprise to remind them of the day when the mutual relationship was initiated.

Send a “thank you” email and offer your customer a big gift like free shipping incentive (for a specific number of items) or a certain percentage of discount on their next order. They will be happy about it and hope to keep working with you because they may expect similar rewards in the next anniversary.

Limited time offers

Setting up a time limit incentive on your offers is a tactic to urge your customers to take actions.

When people know there is only a narrow window to take advantage of your special offers, they will make quicker decisions to gain the big reward.

As the typical wholesale order’s size is far larger than the retail order’s one, you probably want to ensure that you leave enough time for your customers to estimate how many items they are in need of. It can take your wholesale customers a few days to have an exact number, so feel free to leave them a small buffer to account for that.

Put all wholesale marketing tactics together.

When you have a list of tactics, it’s time to choose some suitable ones to create an integrated marketing plan in order to accompany your customers on their buying journey.

Though not every tactic will work well as you think, you should test them and find out the effective strategies for each customer level. There are different types of B2B clients, so if testing in the right way, you will also figure out the personalized marketing tactics that could satisfy their needs.

Tell us about the way you define what is B2B Marketing, the wholesale marketing strategies that work out for your business and how you adopt them in each phase of your business growth.

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