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B2B Marketing – Relationship Building is Paramount

Written by Andrew Littlewood.

To put it simply, B2B marketing describes the sale of one company’s product or service to another company.

While the sales principles seem similar to that used when a company sells to a consumer, the strategies B2B marketers employ differ greatly, as the products often require specific sales tactics.

Building a relationship

The first, and perhaps the most important factor of B2B marketing is the development of a relationship between you, the seller, and the business buyer.

In the traditional business world that existed several decades ago, it would have been acceptable for you, the B2B marketer, to offer a superior product to your potential consumers - making no attempt to develop a trusting relationship - and continue to call them your customers.

Though now, in 2015, where the buyer is more empowered, more outspoken and demands more from their dealings with sellers, you cannot expect to survive in the B2B market without developing personal relationships with the business buyers.

The challenge for B2B marketers however, comes in the form of having more than a few customers to manage, and less than enough time to devote adequate attention to the relationship with each.

On top of this, B2B marketers are not only tasked with continuing the cycle of developing a relationship and selling to the consumer, they must go one step further, identifying the problems facing their buyers, before recommending solutions.

The most common complaint from B2B marketers regarding the development of relationships with their consumers is that relationship building often drains the business of time and money, without the promise of a return on investment.

Though relationships are crucial and risks inevitable, they can be overcome by ensuring a trusting and friendly bond is developed, leading to an ongoing sales relationship between you and your business buyer.

Branding

Just like a product’s brand is important to you when you are purchasing a car, a loaf of bread, or any other consumer good for that matter, brand is crucial to business buyers when making product decisions.

If you are running a business and wanting to turn a profit (who doesn’t?!) of course you want to save money, but you’re not going to trust your business in the hands of a less reputable, lower quality brand just to shave a few dollars off the price, right?

The key to brand marketing comes back to the significance of developing a relationship with the buyer.

Every product or service on the market needs a brand, without it, how will anyone know who you are, what you stand for, what the product will provide them with, or why they should use it?

Branding has the potential to demand a higher price for your product or service, just by communicating to the consumer ideals that are in line with their own.

Eventually, once a brand has cemented itself in the mind of the consumer as strong, reputable and prominent, the features and benefits the product or service offers can become almost insignificant.

Segmenting your market

Once you have developed relationships with your buyers, and they are convinced by the strength of your brand, it is time to segment your markets to understand their needs more easily.

Through segmenting by application, company, market type or customer, you can begin to upsell, improve custom retention through tailored communication, design products specifically for markets, and create unique campaigns for each segment.

Segmenting your market into multiple groups also allows you to access multiple streams of B2B revenue, all the while lessening the risk of financial loss.

Lead generation or nurturing?

One important point for all B2B marketers to remember is this; just because a B2B relationship isn’t resulting in sales, does not mean it is not worthy of your attention.

While lead generation is good for your business’ bottom line, it is important not to discard the notion of lead nurturing; building relationships with those who may be potential clients, but are not ready to purchase yet.

They may be business buyers who follow your social profiles or receive your newsletter, who are aware of what is going on within your company, but are not currently looking to buy.

By nurturing these leads as if they are already clients, the buyers are aware of what to experience if they chose to buy from you, and are therefore more likely to choose you when the time comes to buy.

Get selling online!

Finally, as B2B markets are beginning to shift away from traditional marketing methods and more towards online channels to facilitate their selling, it is important to understand the power of the internet in the business world.

Company websites, email marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) are quoted as three of the four top sources of lead sales in the modern B2B market, which means B2B marketers must now be able to effectively communicate their brand and develop consumer relationships in the online sphere as well as face-to-face, if they expect to survive in the rapidly changing business world.

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