B2B marketing is huge. Attempting to cover it within the boundaries of a single article is tough. But what I wanted to do in this blog post is to discuss the key topics related to B2B marketing such as targeting, marketing channels, marketing tools, team structuring, etc., at a 10000-feet level so that you can develop a basic understanding of what it is all about.
In addition, I have also included and linked to a ton of additional resources that will help deepen your knowledge in B2B marketing. Being someone who has lived and breathed B2B marketing for the whole of my life, I can confidently say that this piece covers every fundamental concept related to the domain.
That said, let us get started. Shall we?
What is B2B marketing? How is it different from B2C marketing?
The term B2B marketing is quite simple. It can be defined as below:
B2B marketing is the set of processes, tools, and techniques that B2B businesses use to reach their target audience with the intention to spread awareness and generate leads for the business.
Every B2B business needs marketing of some form. All the big B2B brands we know such as HubSpot, Salesforce, and Oracle leverage marketing to grow their business. Content marketing, social media, SEO, video marketing, event marketing, email marketing, etc., are some of the B2B marketing techniques used by these companies.
One common misconception when it comes to B2B marketing is that some companies have access to secrets and techniques others don’t have. While large brands might have a huge budget, the reality is that marketing can be done almost as effectively with a leaner budget. In this context, you can give my article on doing B2B marketing under $60K a read.
B2B vs B2C marketing
There is plenty of material discussing the key differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing. But let me list down just a few key points that I think are the most important:
- The customer lifetime value ( LTV) is different for both. Generally, it’s higher for B2B (but there are exceptions to it. A luxury B2C brand for example can have an LTV upwards of millions of dollars). Due to this, the customer acquisition cost (CAC) has to be lower for B2C businesses.
- The B2B buyer journey is more complex and has multiple stakeholders. In the case of B2C, though others influence buying decisions, the purchase is usually made by 1 or two people at a time.
- B2C requires a more psychological and emotional approach compared to B2B. Not that it is not needed at all in B2B marketing. But B2C is more impacted by it – which is why we all get influenced by celebrity endorsements.
- The choice of channels differs. While there are channels used by both (such as email, SEO, YouTube, etc.), there are some differences. For example, B2C companies leverage Instagram a lot while most B2B companies don’t use it as a lead generation platform.
B2B marketing and B2C marketing in the same business?
Is it possible for a single business to be in B2B marketing as well as B2C marketing?
The answer is YES.
On one side we have large businesses like Amazon and Google that have a business side as well as an end consumer side. For example, Amazon is primarily known for its e-commerce business. But it also has a cloud business called AWS where it sells cloud solutions to businesses. Hence, Amazon does both B2B and B2C marketing.
The other types of businesses that need to do both are two-sided marketplaces. Consider a travel aggregator like MakeMyTrip. They have to onboard new customers while ensuring there is an adequate supply of vendors on the platform.
Fundamentals of B2B marketing for 2024
Next, let us get to the core of the topic, which is learning the basic concepts of B2B marketing. We will do this in the following areas:
Fundamentals of B2B marketing
- Targeting, positioning, and messaging.
- Marketing channels and content types
- Marketing team
- Marketing budget
- Marketing technology
1. Targeting, positioning, and messaging in B2B marketing
B2B marketing starts with understanding your target customers. Your target audience can be defined along two parameters:
- Firmographic criteria such as industry, revenue, region, and number of employees.
- Demographic criteria such as job title and designation.
In addition to the above, depending on the products and solutions you sell, you might want to add other relevant criteria. For example, if you are an IT services company, using IT budget as a criterion is a good idea.
Now, targeting doesn’t end with just defining the target criteria. It’s complete only when you come up with a custom list of accounts that you can target for a defined period. This will help you do targeted campaigns (such as email marketing and LinkedIn ads) to specific accounts instead of doing a spray and pray.
Once you have identified the accounts you need to go after, the next step is to decide where to position yourself in the market. This is a tricky thing to do. If you are in a commoditized space like marketing services or IT solutions, you need to come up with a unique proposition that would help differentiate yourself from the crowd.
For example, at Skalegrow one of our target industries is embedded companies which traditionally has been ignored by marketing agencies. The positioning should reflect the unique value adds you can bring to the table by virtue of your product, solutions, capabilities, or even people.
A good example that I can quote is HighLevel. In a crowded marketing automation market, they found a place for themselves by positioning their product for marketing agencies. Have a look at this copy on their website that clearly states their positioning.
Your positioning doesn’t always have to be super unique. But you need to identify your unfair advantage that will give you an edge over your competition.
The next thing to do is to reflect your positioning in all the messaging activities you do such as:
- Ad copy
- Website copy
- Social media content
- Battle cards
- Case studies, ebooks, and whitepapers
The idea is to convey your positioning and the value you bring in every form of content.
2. B2B marketing channels and content types
This is something we need to look at in detail. Marketing channels and content constitute a major part of marketing. Your choice of both determines the success of your marketing efforts to a great extent.
Marketing channels and content types are highly intertwined. For example, YouTube is synonymous with videos. Certain other channels like social media for example offer the ability to create a variety of content types such as banners, videos, carousels, articles, etc. Below are the different channels you can use for B2B marketing activities:
B2B marketing channels
- SEO & content marketing
- Video marketing
- Email marketing
- Organic social media marketing
- Paid ads
- Event marketing
- Partner marketing
- Industry alliances and media websites
- Third-party lead generation agencies
- Influencer marketing
- Webinar marketing
When it comes to content types, the following are the different types you can create:
- Blog posts
- Website landing pages
- Banners and carousels
- Case studies
- Ebooks, whitepapers, and guides
- Product guides and documents
- Press releases
As you can see, there are many overlaps between marketing channels and content types. Some on the list are referred to as both channels and content types. Next, let us dive deep into each of the marketing channels.
B2B website marketing
Website is the face of your business. That is the first place everyone checks out to learn more about your business. A website also acts as a place to host all the marketing collaterals. Whether it’s a case study, whitepaper, or blog post, your website has it all. Some of the types of pages on a website include:
- Home page
- About us page
- Product/solution pages
- Industry pages
- Blog posts
- Marketing asset landing pages – for hosting ebooks, whitepapers, and case studies.
- Contact us page
Depending on the products or solutions you sell, the pages might slightly vary. But the above are the most common ones.
B2B content marketing and SEO
The reason why I grouped content marketing and SEO together is because there are many overlaps between the two. Any content you create for your website has to be optimized for SEO. In addition, SEO is relevant for video marketing on YouTube too. Also, content marketing would overlap with some of the other channels we listed – such as email for example.
When it comes to content creation, it is all about creating marketing material that resonates with your target audience. Some of the questions you can ask yourself in this context include:
- What content formats will resonate with my audience the most?
- What topics would be the most interesting to them?
- What platforms are the best for distributing that content?
- How frequently should you create different pieces of content?
Answering these questions will help you lay down a structured content marketing plan, which can include SEO as one of the key elements. To learn more about how to do B2B content marketing and SEO right, I suggest you check out the below articles:
B2B Video marketing
Videos are a must-do for B2B businesses. Since it takes time to work, the earlier you start, the better. Types of videos B2B companies can create include:
- Product/solution videos
- Educational videos
- Event videos
- Employer branding videos
- How-to videos
To learn more about how to do B2B video marketing the right way, have a look at the below article:
If you are looking to do video marketing with a limited budget, I suggest you give the below article a read:
B2B email marketing
Email marketing is one of the best ways to do targeted marketing campaigns. You can reach the inboxes of your customers and prospects directly once you acquire their email IDs. Email marketing campaigns can be done in the form of newsletters, solution launch campaigns, webinar promotions, seasonal campaigns, and cold emails.
While solution launches, webinar campaigns, and seasonal campaigns are associated with a specific event or occasion, newsletters and cold outreach are regular activities. The strategy and tactics you apply for each will also differ. Email marketing works best when you integrate it with other B2B marketing channels.
B2B social media marketing
For B2B companies, LinkedIn is by far the best platform to do organic social media marketing. Here are some of the best practices and tips you can follow while doing LinkedIn marketing:
- Experiment with different content formats such as images, carousels, videos, and polls.
- Post at least 3 to 4 times a week.
- Leverage all the distribution features of LinkedIn such as LinkedIn newsletter and LinkedIn Live.
- Look at your competitors and learn from what is working for them.
- Create, analyze, refine, and repeat.
In B2B, Google ads and LinkedIn ads are two of the best PPC ad platforms. While LinkedIn allows you to target accounts and people by firmographic and demographic criteria, Google ads help you target your prospects by search intent.
B2B event marketing
Events remain one of the best channels when it comes to generating leads. While digital channels help to establish credibility to some extent, events give you an opportunity for your customers and prospects to see the real people behind the business.
Whatever industry you are in, you can find relevant events through a simple Google search or by asking around in your network. The key objective of events should be to establish relationships with your customers and prospects. Though sales is the end goal, approach it with the mentality of helping your prospects solve their problem related to your solutions.
Partnership marketing is an underrated tactic in the B2B world. It is used by some of the leading brands in the world. For example, search engine giant Google generated $32.78 billion from its Network members. It is a form of partnership ecosystem that Google has built over the years.
Check out this LinkedIn post to learn 8 partnership marketing tactics to grow your B2B business.
Industry alliances and media websites
Industry alliances and media websites are present in almost every industry. These are companies that act as a key source of information for businesses in your niche. They create different forms of content such as news, blog posts, videos, interviews, etc. They also host events that give companies the opportunity to network and learn. An example of such a media website is The Association for Advancing Automation.
Third-party lead generation agencies
These are agencies that offer lead generation services. They use a combination of email, LinkedIn, and cold calling to generate leads that meet your criteria. Examples of such firms include Spiceworks Ziff Davis and Martal Group.
B2B influencer marketing
Influencer marketing in the past was only meant for B2C, FMCG, or D2C companies. But not anymore. Today, given that customer buying behavior is heavily influenced by peer opinions, B2B influencers can help increase the confidence of prospects in your solutions.
Learn more about B2B influencer marketing here.
Webinars are an excellent tool to establish yourself as a thought leader in your space. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when it comes to webinars is that they see it as a mere lead generation exercise. While it can generate leads in the form of registrations, the real impact of webinars will only be visible in the long run when customers start coming to you by realizing your expertise and knowledge in the domain.
Broadly speaking, a webinar can be split into three stages:
- Pre-webinar activities: topic planning & ideation, identifying speakers, content creation, etc.
- Hosting the webinar: audio & video equipment, dry run
- Post-webinar activities: data analysis, follow-up/remarketing campaigns, data cleanup, etc.
To learn these steps in detail and everything else about webinar marketing, check out this article:
PR is all about getting your story out there. Getting your story published in leading magazines and news outlets offers the following advantages:
- It will give your business great visibility by giving access to a wide audience.
- It takes you in front of prospects that you otherwise might find difficult to reach.
- It earns you quality backlinks and helps improve the domain rating.
Learn more about PR marketing here.
3. B2B marketing team
A marketing team is key to growth in any B2B business. Depending on the stage and the size of your business, the nature of the team you need to put together will also change. However, the following are some of the best practices when constituting a B2B marketing team:
- Prioritize roles and responsibilities based on what is most important for your business
- If you are setting up a large marketing team, have a proper hierarchical structure and leads for every function. This will ensure accountability and smooth execution.
- Assign responsibilities based on the experience and skill sets each team member brings to the table. Trying to have one person do everything is not sustainable.
If you are trying to put together a B2B marketing team on a tight budget, here is a guide that will help you achieve the same: How to structure a lean B2B marketing team if you are tight on budget.
4. B2B marketing budget
Creating an annual B2B marketing budget is a key activity that every marketing leader should do before the financial year begins. This ensures proper budget allocation and will keep the growth engine running without interruption. Here are some of the elements in a B2B marketing budget for which you need to allocate budget:
Elements B2B marketing budget
- Branding, design, & PR: This combines everything you spend on improving brand awareness, maintaining public relations, and creative design.
- Advertising and media buying: This includes your entire advertising spend across platforms like Google ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Content marketing: Content is broad. But here, we are referring to any content-related services you outsource. Examples are translation services and content writing services.
- Website & SEO: As the term suggests, this subcategory includes all website and SEO-related costs such as website maintenance & support, paid backlink placements, agency fees, etc.
- Corporate: This usually includes any team-level or central expenses and items that cannot be included in any of the other subcategories. A good example would be any training programs you conduct for the whole marketing team.
- Sales enablement; This in general means anything that is required from the marketing side to support sales. This could overlap with some of the other subcategories listed. Technically, any effort that equips the sales team with the right set of tools and insights can be brought under this. A great example is customer interviews.
- Market research and analyst relations: All activities related to outsourced market research and maintaining analyst relations would fall into this subcategory.
- Event marketing: Event marketing costs include booth setup, travel & accommodation costs, printing branded items, etc.
- Travel expenses (other than events): This covers travel expenses incurred for marketing team members in addition to event-related travel.
- Partnership marketing: This includes partnership fees and other comarketing activities done in collaboration with partner organizations.
- Agencies and third-party vendors: You could add agency fees either under a related subcategory, or consolidate all those under this section.
- Tools and subscriptions.
Explore how to create an annual B2B marketing budget here: How To Create An Annual B2B Marketing Budget [With Template]
5. B2B martech stack
A martech stack refers to all the tools and technologies you need to run your marketing engine. Given below are the elements of a B2B martech stack:
- Website, hosting, and database
- Email marketing/marketing automation
- Website analytics and tracking
- Content writing
- Graphic design and video editing
- Social media
- Video hosting and distribution
- B2B contacts database
Read the below article to learn how to build a lean B2B martech stack focused on demand generation:
Final words about B2B marketing
B2B marketing is vast. What I have covered is just an overview and the tip of the iceberg. However, the additional resources I have linked to will help you learn the various facets of B2B marketing in detail. Hope this was a useful piece. I recommend you check out the other articles on our blog and keep following our content to make sure you learn the best and the latest in B2B marketing.
Skalegrow – B2B marketing agency
Skalegrow is a B2B marketing agency aimed at making life better for marketing leaders and founders in the B2B space. It was founded to address two key challenges in the B2B world:
- The lack of quality of services offered by marketing agencies
- The misalignment of marketing activities with organizational-level goals
By introducing a consultative approach to offering marketing services, Skalegrow strives to make growth simpler and predictable for B2B companies. From SEO-led content and video marketing to LinkedIn organic marketing and email marketing, we offer a complete suite of marketing services to the IT, SaaS, tech, and embedded systems industries. If you are looking for help in implementing marketing tactics that work, please write to us at email@example.com.
About the author
Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.
Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.
You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.