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B2B online marketing: why you need it, even if you think you don't

This post was originally published on the Novacom blog.

There are many b2b companies that have significant market share in very specific markets due the niche nature of products, or the very significant size of the unit purchase costs in that marketplace.

Many of these companies feel that the niche they work in or the huge purchase cost of their products and services ensures they are, and will remain, market leaders and commercially indomitable in the years ahead.

Maintaining market share

So why do these companies need b2b marketing? They've got the profile - every time they do a deal its headline news, right? Everybody who matters has heard of them and knows what they offer, correct? Well, no, it's not as simple as that.

Because markets continually move, and while some of these global enterprises believe there is no competitive threat, that is an unwise assumption in the transnational markets of today.

Invisible competitive threat

The issue is, all markets - and there are no exceptions - have many, often unseen competitive forces that may not – at least initially – appear as direct contenders or even challengers, but the point about competitive erosion is that it is evolutionary.

That is to say in these markets, single-entity competition becomes commercially harmful when these single, indirectly-contending forces rapidly coalesce as collective business realisation perceives a gap in your competitive position and joins forces to exploit it.

Visibility is protective

Many global niche players believe safety comes through invisibility. As can be seen in the scenario I describe, this is definitely not the case as this alliance between your indirect competition - some of whom may even be your suppliers - will be rapid and decisive.

This means that unless you have previously spent time and significant resources building your brand, market profile and customer engagement, this competitive challenge will leave your marketplace looking like the beach after a storm: unrecognisable.

And you will be nowhere to be seen, at least not by your customer base.

Market presence, not market hype

But this is only one scenario: the other is simply competitor forces growing over time, evolving, joining forces, and the slow irradiation of your market position and competitive share that will result.

So, how do you avoid your enterprise being overwhelmed by these competitive forces? The simple answer is visibility. Many marketers believe that digital marketing such as website development or email communications are about customer acquisition. But not for those with vision.

Become an industry beacon

While your competitive environment is a constant, building an online presence that clearly marks you out as an innovator, thought leader and as a trusted business partner is a central part of your claim as market leader.

Build on this by developing your website to act not as a mere placeholder but to engage and partner with your - albeit small - global client community and reach out to them with email updates, and you will have cemented your long-term position.

That is because, rather than taking what may appear to be a commercially motivated route to client engagement, this is a truly open, transparent and sincere approach to client partnership and mutual business success.

Working with an experienced digital communications agency to develop this online client relationship is unlikely to rapidly build new client relationships.

But it will cement valuable existing relationships and keep them secure; and through greater exposure and reputation - place your enterprise front-of-mind with those who next enter your marketplace as potential clients, over time.