Business to Business Marketing
There has been a divergence in marketing over the last twenty-five years in which business to business marketing has separated itself from consumer marketing and become a discipline in its own right.
Up until the 1970s consumer marketing was considered more important, selling to customers through advertising in the media and in retail outlets.
When a product is created the ultimate market may be the consumer but even the most basic product can be the result of a chain of businesses, perhaps starting with the raw material, and adding value to that product at each step, until it is ready to be offered to that consumer.
Commercial businesses, government institutions and other organisations all have b2b needs.
How does b2b differ from consumer marketing ?
As b2b marketing has diverged from consumer marketing it becomes apparent that there are major differences in the two.
Businesses do not "Impulse Buy"
That flashy new camera that does everything but make the coffee may catch your eye in the store over the weekend and end up with you emptying your wallet in order to have the latest cutting edge piece of kit. Business buyers rarely make such impulsive purchases.
They are far more conservative and rational when looking at buying in and will base their decision on more professional criteria, including an in-depth knowledge of the product. A proven track record of reliability and consistency is more important to the business purchaser than the individual who will be more influenced by advertising and flashy packaging.
Personal Relationships are Paramount
Whereas the consumer has a many to one relationship with the supplier and consumer marketing is aimed at large groups of people who are reached through mass media marketing, the sales teams of businesses tend to have far fewer clients and will know each other personally, having taken part in meetings over the years. A level of trust will have been built which is vital in the b2b marketing world.
B2b marketing operate over a longer term
Most consumers do not have or expect a long term relationship with their producers. Although they may have some degree of loyalty to a brand most consumers make very few 'important' buying decisions in a lifetime - a car or house, perhaps. In the b2b world purchases can be very large volume and relationships are built up with suppliers which can last for decades.
B2b buyers demand more from their suppliers
b2b products are often much more complex than simply consumer goods and require an expert knowledge from the buyer. Because of the volume and time-scale of their operations b2b buyers will be far more demanding when it comes to quality, reliability, delivery times etc. As they are responsible for a chain of operations they will take fewer risks and expect fewer errors and mistakes than a consumer.
From the sellers point of view b2b clients are also more stable and, if you provide a good and suitable product on time, on a regular basis, they will continue to buy from you for a very long time. One again the relationship is paramount. Price, quality, service and trust are the principle needs of b2b markets.
Now it is recognised that b2b marketing is the largest in terms of transaction volume and income generation. Billions of dollars is spent annually to promote businesses to other businesses and the market now comfortably exceeds the consumer market. Trade shows, in which businesses showcase their products and services to other businesses, are rife and volumes of books and magazines have been published on the art and practise of b2b marketing.
A large number of companies specialising in b2b marketing have sprung up allowing small and medium sized businesses to outsource their b2b marketing requirements if they have neither the staff or resources to do this in-house.
There are also many Internet resources, such as b2bmarketing.net, which offer resources and training, news and events in the b2b market world. In a reversal of the industries previous splitting away from b2c marketing, b2b is now rediscovering the need to interact with clients using social networking and even b2b gaming, to build better and more 'interactive' relationships with each other. When it comes down to it, it is still 'people buying from people', is the rationale behind this new more "emotive" approach to b2b marketing.