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How Marketing Changes When Transitioning From B2C To B2B

It is a common myth that businesses that operate in the B2C segment have it easy compared to those who seek B2B customers. While B2C businesses typically look more glamorous and well-known, the core ingredients to reach out to your customers and finding new clients are typically the same in both B2B and B2C businesses. 

That is not to however say that there is no absolute change in the way you market your business though. In B2C, you will need to scale up and deal with high volume marketing tactics – for instance, if you were selling iPhones, every new customer to you seek is a challenge. It is essentially a numbers game. On the other hand, B2B is a value game. To be viable, you will only need to sign up a handful of businesses – not only do each of these customers buy in significant quantities, but there is a high chance of repeat business unless you mess something up real badly. Taking the example of selling iPhones again, finding one business client would mean sale of dozens of iPhones to each of their sales team members. 

Unlike B2C where you could shoot in the dark and hope that at least some stick, in B2B, each one of your reach outs has to be properly planned and executed. This is because there are only a handful of businesses that you can reach out to depending on your product. Receiving a bad rep from one customer is sufficient to hinder new business opportunities much more quickly. So how do you successfully transition from a pure-play B2C company to servicing B2B customers? I asked a few successful business who have been there and done that for their words of advice. Here are a few pointers: 

Prepare Buyer Journey Maps : Every potential lead takes a series of decisions that culminates with them purchasing your product or service. Often times, this is a process that takes several months. According to Jay Gaines, the group director of SiriusDecisions, any business looking to succeed in marketing to business customers must first map the buyer journey maps. This, along with the customer life-cycle maps will give your marketing team all the information to define the process, roles and responsibilities required to bring the lead onboard as a customer. 

Word of Mouth Is Key : A lot of businesses get new clients mainly through word of mouth marketing. Every industry has a sweet ratio of customers to references provided. In a B2C setting, a business typically has hundreds of customers and so the number of word of mouth references is also a significantly high number. In B2B, the references can sometimes be hard to come by, especially if you have just started out. Jay Barnett, the founder of Priority Pickup says that one way to break the barrier could be to seek a friendly reference from existing customers. “Your existing customers may be extremely happy with your product or service. It just so happens that they do not actively promote your business to their network. A gentle request can sometimes do wonders and act as a catalyst to kickstart your inbound enquiries”, he says. 

Identify The Organizational Hierarchy And Work Through This : Businesses often have multiple layers of decision makers and as a B2B business, you will need to work through this hierarchy in order to get a successful order. Heidi Cohen, a prominent marketing expert says each of these different decision makers are real, live, breathing humans. So while marketing your product, target each of these individual decision makers, one at a time and sell it to these individual human beings – it would be a mistake to think of the company as one entity and crafting the product to target the business. 

Have you successfully transitioned into marketing your product for the B2B industry? Share your experiences in the comments below.