Business Marketing is the practice of
individuals, or organizations, including commercial businesses, governments and institutions, facilitating the sale of their products or services to other companies or organizations that in turn resell them, use them as components in products or services they offer, or use them to support their operations. Also known as industrial marketing, business marketing is also called business-to-business marketing, or B2B marketing, for short. (Note that while marketing to government entities shares some of the same dynamics of organizational marketing, B2G Marketing is meaningfully different.)
Origins of business marketing
In the broadest sense, the practice of one purveyor of goods doing trade with another is as old as commerce itself. As a niche in the field of marketing as we know it today, however, its history is more recent. In his introduction to "Fundamentals of Business Marketing" "Research", J. David Lichtenthal, professor of marketing at the City University of New York's Zicklin School of Business, notes that industrial marketing has been around since the mid-19th century, although the bulk of research on the discipline of business marketing has come about in the last 25 years.
Morris, Pitt and Honeycutt, 2001, point out that for many years business marketing took a back seat to consumer marketing, which entailed providers of goods or services selling directly to households through mass media and retail channels. This began to change in middle to late 1970s. A variety of academic periodicals, such as the "Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing" and the "Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing", now publish studies on the subject regularly, and professional conferences on business-to-business marketing are held every year. What's more, business marketing courses are commonplace at many universities today. In fact, Dwyer and Tanner (2006) point out that more marketing majors begin their careers in business marketing today than in consumer marketing.
Business marketing vs. consumer marketing
Although on the surface the differences between business and consumer marketing may seem obvious, there are more subtle distinctions between the two with substantial ramifications. Dwyer and Tanner (2006) note that business marketing generally entails shorter and more direct channels of distribution.
While consumer marketing is aimed at large demographic groups through mass media and retailers, the negotiation process between the buyer and seller is more personal in business marketing. According to Hutt and Speh (2001), most business marketers commit only a small part of their promotional budgets to advertising, and that is usually through direct mail efforts and trade journals. While that advertising is limited, it often helps the business marketer set up successful sales calls.
Marketing to a business trying to make a profit (Business-to-Business marketing) as opposed to an individual for personal use (Business-to-Consumer, or B2C marketing) is similar in terms of the fundamental principals of marketing. In B2C, B2B and B2G marketing situations, the marketer must always:
* successfully match the product/service strengths with the needs of a definable target market; * position and price to align the product/service with its market, often an intricate balance; and * communicate and sell it in the fashion that demonstrates its value effectively to the target market.
These are the fundamental principals of the 4 Ps of marketing (the
marketing mix) first documented by E. Jerome McCarthyin 1960. [McCarthy, Jerome E.: "Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach". Homewood, IL: Irwin, 1996]
Who is customer in a B2B Sale?
While "other businesses" might seem like the simple answer, Dwyer and Tanner (2006) say business customers fall into four broad categories: companies that consume products or services, government agencies, institutions and resellers.
The first category includes original equipment manufacturers, such as automakers, who buy gauges to put in their cars, and users, which are companies that purchase products for their own consumption. The second category, government agencies, is the biggest. In fact, the U.S. government is the biggest single purchaser of products and services in the country, spending more than $300 billion annually. But this category also includes state and local governments. The third category, institutions, includes schools, hospitals and nursing homes, churches and charities. Finally, resellers consist of wholesalers, brokers and industrial distributors.
So what are the meaningful differences between B2B and B2C marketing?
A B2C sale is to an individual. That individual may be influenced by other factors such as family members or friends, but ultimately it’s a single person that pulls out their wallet. A B2B sale is to an organization. And in that simple distinction lies a web of complications that differ because of the organizational nature of the sale and which vary widely by [http://www.wiglafjournal.com/Articles/2004/2004-04-14-MarketResearch-Relevancy%20B2B.htm firmographic] (i.e., “
demographic” for segmenting businesses) such as business size, location, industry and revenue base.
The marketing mix is affected by the B2B uniqueness which include complexity of business products and services, diversity of demand and the differing nature of the sales itself (including fewer customers buying larger volumes). [Kotler & Pfoertsch: "B2B Brand Management", page 21. Springer Berlin, 2006] . Because there are some important subtleties to the B2B sale, the issues are broken down beyond just the original 4 Ps developed by McCarthy.
B2B Marketing Strategies
B2B branding is different from B2C in some crucial ways, including the need to closely align corporate brands, divisional brands and product/service brands and to apply your brand standards to material often considered “informal” such as email and other electronic correspondence.
Product (or Service)
Because business customers are focused on creating shareholder value for themselves, the cost-saving or revenue-producing benefits of products and services are important to factor in throughout the product development and marketing cycles.
People (Target Market)
Quite often, the
target marketfor a business product or service is smaller and has more specialized needs reflective of a specific industry or niche. [Malaval: "Strategy and Management of Industrial Brandds: Business to Business Products and Services", page 16. 2001] Regardless of the size of the target market, the business customer is making an organizational purchase decision and the dynamics of this, both procedurally and in terms of how they value what they are buying from you, differ dramatically from the consumer market. There may be multiple influencerson the purchase decision, which may also have to be marketed to, though they may not be members of the decision making unit. [Brown, Duncan and Hayes, Nick. Influencer Marketing: Who really influences your customers?, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008]
The business market can be convinced to pay premium prices more often than the consumer market if you know how to structure your pricing and payment terms well. This price premium is particularly achievable if you support it with a strong brand. [Kotler & Pfoertsch: "B2B Brand Management", page 53. Springer Berlin, 2006]
Promotion planning is relatively easy when you know the media, information seeking and decision making habits of your customer base, not to mention the vocabulary unique to their segment. Specific trade shows, analysts, publications, blogs and retail/wholesale outlets tend to be fairly common to each industry/product area. What this means is that once you figure it out for your industry/product, the promotion plan almost writes itself (depending on your budget) but figuring it out can be a special skill and it takes time to build up experience in your specific field. Promotion techniques rely heavily on marketing communications strategies (see below).
Place (Sales & Distribution)
The importance of a knowledgeable, experienced and effective direct (inside or outside)
salesforce is often critical in the business market. If you sell through distribution channels also, the number and type of sales forces can vary tremendously and your success as a marketer is highly dependent on their success.
B2B Marketing Communications Methodologies
The purpose of B2B marketing communications is to support the organizations' sales effort and improve company profitability. B2B marketing communications tactics generally include advertising, public relations, direct mail, trade show support, sales collateral, branding, and interactive services such as website design and search engine optimization. The Business Marketing Association [http://www.marketing.org] is the trade organization that serves B2B marketing professionals. It was founded in 1922 and offers certification programs, research services, conferences, industry awards and training programs.
An important first step in business to business marketing is the development of your positioning statement. This is a statement of what you do and how you do it differently and better and more efficiently than your competitors.
Developing your messages
The next step is to develop your messages. There is usually a primary message that conveys more strongly to your customers what you do and the benefit it offers to them, supported by a number of secondary messages, each of which may have a number of supporting arguments, facts and figures.
Building a campaign plan
Whatever form your B2B marketing campaign will take, build a comprehensive plan up front to target resources where you believe they will deliver the best return on investment, and make sure you have all the infrastructure in place to support each stage of the marketing process - and that doesn't just include developing the lead - make sure the entire organization is geared up to handle the inquiries appropriately.
Briefing an agency
A standard briefing document is usually a good idea for briefing an agency. As well as focusing the agency on what's important to you and your campaign, it serves as a checklist of all the important things to consider as part of your brief. Typical elements to an agency brief are: Your objectives, target market, target audience, product, campaign description, your product positioning, graphical considerations, corporate guidelines, and any other supporting material and distribution.
The real value in results measurement is in tying the marketing campaign back to business results. After all, you’re not in the business of developing marketing campaigns for marketing sake. So always put metrics in place to measure your campaigns, and if at all possible, measure your impact upon your desired objectives, be it Cost Per Acquisition, Cost per Lead or tangible changes in customer perception.
How big is business marketing?
Hutt and Speh (2001) note that "business marketers serve the largest market of all; the dollar volume of transactions in the industrial or business market significantly exceeds that of the ultimate consumer market." For example, they note that companies such as GE, DuPont and IBM spend more than $60 million a day on purchases to support their operations.
Dwyer and Tanner (2006) say the purchases made by companies, government agencies and institutions "account for more than half of the economic activity in industrialized countries such as the United States, Canada and France."
A 2003 study sponsored by the
Business Marketing Associationestimated that business-to-business marketers in the United States spend about $85 billion a year to promote their goods and services. The BMA study breaks that spending out as follows (figures are in billions of dollars):
* Trade Shows/Events -- $17.3
* Internet/Electronic Media -- $12.5
* Promotion/Market Support -- $10.9
* Magazine Advertising -- $10.8
* Publicity/Public Relations -- $10.5
* Direct Mail -- $9.4
* Dealer/Distributor Materials -- $5.2
* Market Research -- $3.8
* Telemarketing -- $2.4
* Directories -- $1.4
* Other -- $5.1
The fact that there is such a thing as the Business Marketing Association speaks to the size and credibility of the industry. BMA traces its origins to 1922 with the formation of the National Industrial Advertising Association. Today, BMA, headquartered in Chicago, has more than 2,000 members in 19 chapters across the country. Among its members are marketing communications agencies that are largely or exclusively business-to-business-oriented.
What's driving growth in B2B Marketing?
The tremendous growth and change that business marketing is experiencing is due in large part to three "revolutions" occurring around the world today, according to Morris, Pitt and Honeycutt (2001).
First is the technological revolution. Technology is changing at an unprecedented pace, and these changes are speeding up the pace of new product and service development. A large part of that has to do with the Internet, which is discussed in more detail below.
Technology and business strategy go hand in hand. Both are corelated .While technology supports forming organization strategy, the business strategy is also helpful in technology development. Both play a great role in business marketing.
Second is the entrepreneurial revolution. To stay competitive, many companies have downsized and reinvented themselves. Adaptability, flexibility, speed, aggressiveness and innovativeness are the keys to remaining competitive today. Marketing is taking the entrepreneurial lead by finding market segments, untapped needs and new uses for existing products, and by creating new processes for sales, distribution and customer service.
The third revolution is one occurring within marketing itself. Companies are looking beyond traditional assumptions and adopting new frameworks, theories, models and concepts. They're also moving away from the mass market and the preoccupation with the transaction. Relationships, partnerships and alliances are what define marketing today. The cookie-cutter approach is out. Companies are customizing marketing programs to individual accounts.
The impact of the Internet
The Internet has become an integral component of the customer relationship management strategy for business marketers. Dwyer and Tanner (2006) note that business marketers not only use the Internet to improve customer service but also to improve opportunities with distributors.
According to Anderson and Narus (2004), two new types of resellers have emerged as by-products of the Internet: infomediaries and metamediaries. Infomediaries, such as
Yahoo, are search engine companies that also function as brokers, or middlemen, in the business marketing world. They charge companies fees to find information on the Web as well as for banner and pop-up ads and search engine optimization services. Metamediaries are companies with robust Internet sites that furnish customers with multiproduct, multivendor and multiservice marketspace in return for commissions on sales.
With the advent of b-to-b exchanges, the Internet ushered in an enthusiasm for collaboration that never existed before--and in fact might have even seemed ludicrous 10 years ago. For example, a decade ago who would have imagined Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler entering into a joint venture? That's exactly what happened after all three of the Big Three began moving their purchases online in the late 1990s. All three companies were pursuing their own initiatives when they realized the economies of scale they could achieve by pooling their efforts. Thus was born what then was the world's largest Internet business when Ford's Auto-Xchange and GM's TradeXchange merged, with DaimlerChrysler representing the third partner.
While this exchange did not stand the test of time, others have, including
Agentrics, which was formed last year with the merger of WorldWide Retail Exchange and GlobalNetXchange, or GNX. Agentrics serves more 50 retailers around the world and more than 300 customers, and its members have combined sales of about $1 trillion. Hutt and Speh (2001) note that such virtual marketplaces enable companies and their suppliers to conduct business in real time as well as simplify purchase processes and cut costs.
* Anderson, James C., and Narus, James A. (2004) "Business Market Management: Understanding, Creating, and Delivering Value", 2nd Edition, 2004, Pearson Education, Inc.
* Business Marketing Association (2003) "Marketing Reality Survey"
* Dwyer, F. Robert, Tanner, John F. (2006) "Business Marketing: Connecting Strategy, Relationships, and Learning", 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill/Irwin
* Greco, John A. Jr., (2005) "Past indicates promising future for b-to-b direct; BtoB magazine, June 13, 2005
* Hutt, Michael D., Speh, Thomas W. (2001) "Business Marketing Management: A Strategic View of Industrial and Organizational Markets", 7th Edition, Harcourt Inc.
* Morris, Michael H., Pitt, Leyland F., and Honeycutt, Earl Dwight (2001) "Business-to-Business Marketing: A Strategic Approach", Sage Publications Inc.
* Reid, David A., and Plank, Richard E. (2004) "Fundamentals of Business Marketing Research", Best Business Books, an Imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc.
* Brown, Duncan and Hayes, Nick. Influencer Marketing: Who really influences your customers?, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008
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