Five Myths About B2B Marketing
Sometimes it’s hard to explain B2B marketing, but we can start by clearing up misunderstandings.
B2B marketing has been around for a long time, but there are still misunderstandings about what B2B marketing is. Some industries and roles are easy to explain, but that’s not the case for most B2B marketers. Even saying something like, “Well, it’s kind of like B2C, but…” doesn’t quite cut it.
So how do we get past those misunderstandings? By talking about them. Here are five myths about B2B marketing.
Myth 1: Research has to go big or go home
Research is an important first step in creating marketing strategies that are relevant to target audiences and grounded in the realities of an industry. But research to understand competitors, audiences and industry trends doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking every time. A smart approach is to focus research on what you can act on. What insights will give you an edge?
One way to focus research efforts is to decide which methods will give you insights to inform strategy.
- Do you need to understand the benefits of a new product and its place in the market? Perhaps conducting a few qualitative interviews with product managers and subject matter experts is the way to go.
- Do you need to test new logos as part of a company rebrand? A short survey that goes to internal stakeholders and external target audiences can give you quantitative feedback quickly.
- Do you need to learn how competitors are using social media channels and what kinds of content performs well? Conducting a competitive review and then distilling themes and key takeaways can help you inform your own social media strategy.
Focusing research efforts helps scale the work, which is especially important with limited time and budget.
Myth 2: Strategy is created at the beginning of a program and then it’s done
It’s true that strategy is important at the beginning of a new program, but it’s also important to revisit the strategy and look for ways to improve. As part of the initial strategy, set relevant KPIs that will help determine the success of a program. Reviewing these KPIs periodically can reveal ways to improve the program, and you can adjust strategy accordingly.
In addition to optimizing programs, you can revisit strategies to account for different phases of the buyer’s journey or reaching audiences on different channels. The B2B buyer’s journey has many facets and includes several roles, so over time, you can expand your strategy to meet various audience needs.
Myth 3: B2B is always technical and complicated
Many B2B products and services are technical by nature, regardless of industry — manufacturing, heavy equipment or life sciences. Some marketers may be intimidated by technical terms and concepts, but it’s important to remember that B2B is still human-to-human. Potential customers certainly need technical information to inform buying decisions, but content still needs to serve them on a human level by being easy to find and easy to understand. Technical audiences need approachable content, just like all audiences.
Myth 4: B2B sales are made through relationships, so marketing is not that important
Relationships are definitely vital in B2B. Buying cycles are long and multiple contact points with potential customers are an important part of the process. In “Chief Marketer’s 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Report” 57% of respondents said in-person marketing is one of the most valuable techniques for lead nurturing. Online marketing techniques also ranked high. Email marketing (62%) and content marketing (60%) are important ways to nurture leads as well. Strategies that integrate various ways to reach target audiences will be more successful than focusing on only one channel.
Myth 5: B2B is not creative
Some people think consumer brands are the ones that are fun and memorable, and B2B brands are boring. But regardless of the brand, marketing needs to resonate with target audiences, and that requires creativity.
In B2B, creativity is in the campaign — the visuals, videos or experiences. But it’s also in the thinking behind the campaign. B2B marketing targets multiple decision makers at different stages in the buying cycle with various information needs. So, B2B marketers must be creative in how to reach those audiences with approachable, useful content. As an article in Forbes points out, “creative risks tailored to your audiences can pay off." Creative thinking comes first, and that enables creative execution. B2B has plenty of room for creativity from stellar visual content, like GE’s Instagram, to year-long campaigns like MailChimp’s parodies of itself.
The bottom line
Despite technical products and multifaceted buying journeys, B2B marketing has the same focus as all marketing — it’s about people. To be successful, marketers need to reach the right audiences with messages that resonate. That requires:
- Research that is focused on valuable audience insights
- Strategy that is mapped out early and revisited to ensure success
- Content that is informative but also approachable
- Relationships that are nurtured in various ways, both in person and online
- Creativity that spans initial thinking to final output
Keeping these points in mind is a great step in dispelling myths about B2B. If you’d like to learn more about B2B marketing, check out Godfrey’s presentations from marketing events.
Godfrey helps complex B2B industries tell their stories in ways that delight their customers.