The business-to-business (B2B) model is highly generative in the UK, accounting for approximately £1.7 trillion (or 44%) of the region’s total private sector turnover.
It also generates a staggering £21.78 billion in corporate tax for the UK Treasury, while the cumulative value of B2B ecommerce sales on these shores currently totals £159.3 billion on average.
What’s more, this figure is expected to exceed £188 billion by the end of 2024.
Of course, some B2B niches are relatively competitive and hard to crack successfully.
So, here are some marketing and operational tips for small B2B operations in 2022!
Building Your B2B Brand
While brand building remains largely synonymous with B2C ventures, it’s also relevant for those active in a business-to-business marketplace.
Make no mistake; this definitely creates a strong visual identity that sets you apart from your rivals, while enabling it to cut through in relevant categories and creating a tangible reason for clients to partner with your B2B brand.
The question that remains, of course, is how can you build a strong B2B brand?
Initially, the key is to create clarity around your business and the services that it provides, including its purpose for existing and the precise problem or challenge that it seeks to resolve.
The answers to these questions can help to determine your brand’s core proposition, key selling points and underlying values.
From here, you can begin to understand what differentiates your business and how your brand can reflect this, affording potential clients a reason to care about your venture and part with their hard-earned cash.
This process can be challenging and time-consuming, but following it closely can translate into a clearer and more concise brand that sells a compelling proposition to your target audience.
Present Your Brand Consistently Across Different Channels
When you identify the core values of your B2B brand, you’re creating a de facto persona that becomes synonymous with your venture and helps to humanise your business in the eyes of prospective clients.
In order to convey these values and the principles of your brand successfully, however, you’ll need to present your brand consistently across multiple channels.
This rule applies to both your brand’s visual identity and tone of voice, which is why it’s crucial that you develop clearly defined brand guidelines and make the necessary adjustments to allow for the demands of alternative marketing channels.
Ultimately, we’d recommend that you develop visual brand guidelines and an official tone of voice for different marketing platforms.
The former can help to create a branded colour palette that incorporates several relevant tones, while a clearly defined tone of voice imposes clear rules on how to communicate with customers through email, social media platforms and alternative channels.
This ensures that your brand is presented consistently but relevantly across diverse and integrated marketing campaigns, driving increased rates of brand awareness and recognition in the process.
Use an Integrated and Full Funnel Marketing Strategy
On the topic of integrated marketing campaigns, this type of approach is becoming increasingly commonplace in both B2B and B2C markets.
However, it’s estimated that only 46% of such campaigns are well integrated, even though 89% of marketers believe that their strategies tick this particular box.
Just 58% of consumers would agree, highlighting a significant difference between marketing perception and reality.
If you’re going to create a truly integrated campaign, one of the most important elements is a ‘full funnel’ marketing strategy.
In simple terms, this involves tailoring your marketing messages to suit specific stages of the customer journey, both in terms of their content and the channels through which they’re published.
For example, when targeting new audiences, you may strive to build brand awareness through channels such as out-of-home (OOH) media and billboards.
This affords you access to large and diverse demographics through a non-intrusive and engaging channel (we’ll touch more on this below), while it’s also considerably more cost-effective than alternative offline platforms such as television.
The content here should help to create a concise and compelling hook, which encourages customers to learn more and connect with the advertised brand through targeted channels.
You may look to drive interactions through branded social media channels and branded accounts, for example, particularly with OOH known to be the most effective offline medium for engaging customers through Instagram and Twitter.
From here, the messaging would be adjusted to account for the unique characteristics and character restrictions associated with each site.
What’s more, the content will be changed to strategically continue the customer’s journey, whether this is to assist an online conversion and promote and in-store promotion for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Focus on Reach With OOH
Not only is OOH a key driver of brand awareness in the digital age, but it’s also an incredibly effective and affordable channel when reaching a diverse range of customer and B2B client demographics.
This is why OOH is such an integral part of any integrated marketing campaign, as you look to optimise your reach and leverage strategic locations to target customers when they’re most likely to engage with your brand.
In terms of diversity, OOH is an excellent channel for reaching out to Millennials and target clients aged between 18 and 49.
The reason for this is simple; as this demographic has become increasingly resistant to online advertising, particularly as this medium has been saturated in recent years.
Because of this, around 43% of all Internet users aged between 18 and 24 now use an ad-blocker on at least one of their devices, with this considerably higher than the national average of 22%.
Make no mistake; OOH is comparatively unintrusive and often blends seamlessly with the surrounding environment, helping to engage customers on a much more meaningful level.
Similarly, 48 and 96-sheet billboards are also ideal for roadside advertising, enabling brands to target junctions along busy commuter routes.
Remember, the Department of Transport estimates that 69% of UK commuters continue to travel to and from work by car, so OOH advertising makes it possible to target a broad, diverse and potentially captive audience every single day.
Of course, smaller ads and posters can also be erected at bus and train stations (and transport vehicles themselves). This captures potential customers who don’t drive to work, with bus ads thought to reach a staggering 98% of the population on a weekly basis.
What’s more, you can strategically target different locations and ad types as part of a multi-ad OOH campaign, extending your reach further and across a much broader range of demographics.
Be Creative and Leverage Video Marketing
Creativity in marketing is often discussed in terms of B2C companies, but it’s arguably just as important for B2B ventures.
As a general rule, creativity can benefit any type or size of business, as it helps your B2B brand to stand out from its rivals and may create campaigns, products or services that offer truly unique selling points to clients.
However, there’s a delicate balance to be struck here, as creativity (particularly in marketing) shouldn’t come at the expense of clarity or the client’s understanding.
More precisely, any innovative designs and product offerings must be presented simply and in a way that’s easy to understand.
This is especially true when advertising through aforementioned channels like OOH, which afford businesses a natural advantage as approximately 56% of people trust the messages that they see on billboards (compared with just 42% placing the same faith in online banner ads).
Despite this and their enhanced level of exposure, however, OOH messages are only seen for a relatively short period of time by passing traffic, so you’ll need to present a concise proposition that captures the client’s imagination almost instantly.
It’s also important to strike the balance between creativity and simplicity when dealing with other effective marketing channels, including video marketing.
There are multiple advantages of using video marketing as part of B2B campaigns, from its ability to immediately capture audience interest to its association with improved conversion rates.
What’s more, a whopping 96% of consumers increased their video consumption
levels through 2020, while a further 90% said that they wanted to see more video content from brands going forward.
Once again, the key is to create compelling and unique content that’s focused on a core purpose or message, and one that can be adequately explained to clients who are looking to make informed commercial decisions.
Use Data and Retargeting When Advertising
When making decisions pertaining to either marketing or other strategic aspects of commercial operations, it’s important to act on data and insight where possible.
For example, you may decide to undertake competitive analysis of your main B2B competitors, targeting various disciplines such as marketing or pricing.
The core objective here is to identify opportunities and ways in which you can stand out from your rivals, while also observing the practices that work for them and determining whether they could benefit your business.
Regardless, you’ll base key business decisions on garnered data and insights, ensuring that all actions are well-informed and capable of benefiting the venture in a number of predetermined ways.
When it comes to advertising, you can also use data to identify and target clients who previously engaged with your brand but failed to convert.
You then engage in the practice of ‘retargeting’, which involves displaying previous and targeted ads to leads that failed to either purchase an item or fill in your contact form.
Usually, these leads will have at least visited your site after being generated, only to fall short of making a financial commitment with your B2B brand.
On a similar note, data can also enable you to measure your marketing results and the impact of individual campaigns.
Of course, you’ll also need clearly defined business objectives and metrics to successfully measure your campaigns, while this helps you to identify the most crucial datasets to inform real-time and future decisions.
In general terms, attribution analysis is one of the most seminal tools in a marketer’s toolkit.
This helps you to review the performance of individuals ads and units, as you look to determine which sites delivered the best results and what this revealed about your target audience.
In the case of OOH, for example, attribution analysis is founded on ad exposures. This is a similar metric to digital ad impressions, while it uses location data to reveal how many people viewed and interacted with your message in target locations.
This type of metric can be utilised alongside travel surveys and census data to build customer behaviours and create more intuitive (and effective) campaigns in the future.
Appeal to Humans and Learn From Your Client Interactions
While it’s easy to get lost in data, technology and automation when managing and marketing your B2B business, it’s important to remember that decision makers are distinctly human and emotive beings.
Because of this, your B2B brand must also appeal strongly to humans, from the service and customer support that you provide to clients to the way in which you advertise and attempt to build client rapport.
Interestingly, your quality and delivery of customer service is central here, as this helps to cultivate positive relationships while potentially interacting with clients when they’re most engaged with your brand.
This also creates opportunities to simultaneously learn from your customers and their specific feedback and upsell relevant products and services, creating a mutually beneficial and rewarding partnership for all.
Ultimately, the combination of a more human B2B brand and active listening can really help to set your venture apart, especially in a competitive or serious marketplace that’s particularly tech led.
The Last Word
So, there we have it; our selection of strategic marketing and operational tips for small B2B ventures.
Obviously, some of these will be more relevant than others depending on the precise nature of your business and the market in which it operates, but tips such as building a viable brand and driving decisions with data remain universally applicable.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that there are more similarities between B2C and B2B brands than you may realise, especially in terms of client interactions and the need for proactive customer support.