Business-to-Business Marketing (B2B Marketing) directly involves the sale of a product/services from a company to another company.
B2B marketing techniques rely on the same fundamentals as consumer marketing, the difference lies in the execution of strategies and techniques. In consumer markets, the decision to purchase a product/service lays not just on the price, but also on its popularity, status and/or any other emotional trigger. While in the case of B2B, purchase decisions are made primarily on the basis of price and profit potential.
Core fundamentals of B2B marketing revolve around building relationships that guarantee lasting customers, which is the primary goal (other than having a larger customer base) for any company irrespective of its size of operations. It is a domain which is less focused upon but is the frontier for any business to grow and sustain in any industry. It has been the focus of many organizations, where the sharpest of business minds had the untapped potential which could be brought to use not just to generate revenues, but for making enormous profits from their business activities.
A lot of focus has been directed and emphasis has been laid upon different horizons surrounding the B2B marketing that ranges from market structures and drivers to growth, customer categorization and buyer types to decision aspects, etc.
The main attraction of B2B marketing lies in the evolution of its framework, i.e. from product oriented approach to a solution based model. The product oriented model is well known as 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Promotion and Place) and it has been used by marketers for decades. With the ever evolving technologies and the presence of web services has made the classic principles appear archaic as modern buyers learn almost everything about the business, the 4Ps of marketing are increasingly at odds with the imperative to how B2B marketing functions in this modern age. Hence, retooling the 4Ps has become a necessity for today’s B2B reality.
It is not that the 4Ps have become irrelevant, but there is a dire need to reinterpret them to serve B2B markets. The model shifts the emphasis from Product to Solution, Place to Access, Price to Value and Promotion to Education/Educate, i.e. SAVE.
Solution: Instead of marketing the products, the focus needs to be shifted to a solution based approach. Basically, it means selling of benefits instead of just features.
Access: The idea here is not to disseminate the base location, but to create a cross-channel presence that considers a customer’s entire purchasing cycle/process and not just the place to seal the deal.
Customers want the business to be accessible and available as per their time of requirement, suitability, and a mutual assurance that you (the business) have their backs if something goes wrong.
Value: Compelling and convincing communication about the benefits rather than features is something that helps businesses gain pricing power. Thus, value based pricing holds a distinct advantage and has a better approach over competitive pricing.
Education: Educating prospects as to what the solution is and how it meets their unforeseen needs/requirements by interacting with the customers and evaluating their needs. Thus, providing information and advice to create a sense of familiarity and trust even before the purchase is made. In other words, educating prospects about the business solution attracts more than just promoting the product or service.
In a nutshell, the organizations that continue to embrace the fading model of 4Ps, run the potential risk of involving their business into a repetitive and increasingly unproductive competition.
As the customer has more say in the business-customer relation, embracing a framework that would reflect the actual concerns of the customers should possibly help marketers create and provide better value for the people and meet their needs.
Author : Kinshuk Chaturvedi
PGPM Class of 2017, Great Lakes