Marketing is hard. B2B marketing strategy is uniquely hard.
That’s part of what makes it so important (and, when it’s done well, so rewarding).
We’ve been doing B2B marketing for over 10 years. Based on that expertise, in this article, we’ll break down three of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing strategy and discuss how to solve them.
1. B2B buying decisions are often made by groups.
B2C sales are dependent on a single individual’s decisions. B2B sales often depend on groups. And the reality is that it is easier to get an individual to take action than it is to get a group to take action.
Think about how much harder it is to choose a restaurant as a group than it is to order takeout yourself. There’s simply more inertia when groups make decisions.
Here’s how this plays out in a B2B marketing context. Let’s say you sell SaaS – maybe HR software. You create good marketing that convinces an HR manager that your product is a good fit for their needs. Nice work! But then the HR manager brings your product to their boss, a VP, because they’re the one who controls the technology budget – and the VP thinks your product isn’t worth the cost.
For all of your good marketing, your sale gets shot down.
The solution: To overcome this B2B marketing strategy challenge, you have to understand all of the stakeholders involved in a B2B sale (not just the finder or the decision-maker). Then, you have to create marketing messages that resonate with each stakeholder and deliver them at the appropriate times.
2. Sales cycles tend to be longer.
Relatedly, B2B sales cycles are longer – which means that your marketing can resonate with a prospect and still fail to inspire action.
For example, let’s say you sell custom software to nonprofits. Nonprofits typically operate on annual budget cycles. Often, they can’t make a buying decision until they get approval from board members, which only happens at certain times.
So, you can create great marketing that persuades them of the value of your product. But if they can’t actually act on it when they’re faced with the problem your product solves, they may forget that your product exists before the annual budget meeting.
The solution: To overcome this B2B marketing strategy challenge, you have to understand what the buying cycle looks like in the first place. For instance, if there are certain times of year when buying decisions are more likely to be made, you should focus on reaching potential clients at those times.
Another key in overcoming long sales cycles is to create marketing campaigns with multiple touchpoints. Instead of delivering a single message, you can craft ongoing communications that build your message over time and keep your business top of mind – so when the prospect is ready to buy, you’re the solution they think of.
3. Markets tend to be smaller.
Finally, in general, B2B markets are smaller than B2C markets. In other words, there are fewer fish in the pond you’re fishing in.
To illustrate how this impacts marketing results, let’s compare a residential HVAC company in Frederick, Maryland (a mid-sized town with ~70,000 and ~3,500 businesses) with a commercial HVAC company in the same area.
If the residential HVAC company creates marketing that leads .5% of the town’s population to become their customers, they’ll have 750 customers. However, if the commercial HVAC company converts their targets at the same rate, they’ll only get ~18 customers.
This drastic difference might be offset by the B2B company’s higher service prices, but the fact is that there’s less margin for error. A loss of a few customers doesn’t impact the residential company. It’s a huge hit for the B2B firm.
Plus, at a tactical marketing level, some tactics just don’t work without adequately sized markets. SEO, for example, probably isn’t worth pursuing if you have fewer than 2,000-3,000 people that you can sell to. Or take billboards – they work for State Farm, but they don’t work for ServiceNow.
The solution: To overcome this B2B marketing strategy challenge, you’ll need to have a comprehensive understanding of your market and be able to create highly targeted campaigns.
We’ve found that, often, ABM (account-based marketing) can help companies fishing in a smaller pond to target the right fish with a higher rate of success than they’d have using broad-market strategies. You can learn more about ABM here.
Ready to overcome your B2B marketing strategy challenges?
We know that getting the results you want from your B2B marketing can be difficult. In truth, the challenges listed above are only a few of the potential hurdles that B2B businesses face.
But we also know that, with a strategic approach, your B2B marketing challenge can be solved.
Want to talk through the challenges you’re facing?
You don’t have to go it alone. At New North, we’ve helped growing B2B businesses to overcome growth challenges for over 10 years. For expert insight into your marketing game plan, schedule a free, no-pressure consultation. Let’s find the way past your problem to the growth that awaits.