When startups, SMEs, or freelance entrepreneurs are out navigating the wider business world, an understanding of ‘the lingo’ can really help to set apart the new from the experienced. You may have already heard the term ‘business-to-business’ or ‘B2B’ thrown around, but is its meaning? In this guide, we cover the definition of B2B, its advantages, and more.
What Is B2B (Business-To-Business) and How Does It Work?
The definition of B2B, or ‘business-to-business’, is a specific kind of e-commerce between two businesses, whether that be the transaction of services, products, or information. Not to be confused with B2C (business-to-consumer), which is any business whose e-commerce and marketing is aimed at customers, for example, Amazon, IKEA, Apple, and John Lewis.
The confusion comes from B2C companies that have a small measure of B2B business involved in their model. But there is little to no crossover when it comes to B2B companies, as they are offering products and services that only other businesses will be looking for.
Examples of B2B brands include:
- Amazon: Though Amazon is a leading B2C e-commerce company, they have also made their giant mark on the B2B e-commerce world with Amazon Business. This B2B grants other businesses access to a wide range of supply chains, as well as financial services.
- EcoEnclose: The great thing about EcoEnclose is that they are a B2B that supplies businesses with eco-friendly packaging. They have a B2C ethos with how they interact with other businesses, which makes them an extremely accessible resource to business owners.
- Upwork: This B2B is a ‘marketplace for freelancers’ that specialises in connecting freelancers with work in their field. They span a vast industry, including copywriting, marketing, and graphic design.
What Are the Advantages of Business-To-Business?
In recent years, B2B e-commerce has really established itself online, allowing wider reach in sales and efficiency. This is especially true for small businesses, who often would not have access to these larger-scale B2B companies. But overall benefits stretch well beyond SMEs, and we recommend considering B2B e-commerce for your business.
The key advantages of B2B e-commerce include:
- Increased reach and connectivity: B2B is a vast market, spanning 44% of the UK’s business turnover. Since the pandemic, online supply chains and sales have increased exponentially, which has only increased the reach of B2B potential, cutting out the need for in-person sales reps and instead relying on fast-action e-commerce from a much wider pool of markets and suppliers.
- Increased sales and efficiency: B2B companies are able to close the gap much faster than B2C companies and grow sales, due to the fact they buy and sell in bulk – so the value of each transaction is much greater. B2B e-commerce is also extremely efficient thanks to tools which ease the process between buyer and seller, no matter how complex.
B2B Marketing: The Basics
How a B2B company markets their services to their target audience will differ entirely from how, say, a B2C company would market to their individual consumers. The art of targeting businesses with a marketing strategy takes a working knowledge of not only the businesses themselves, but also their pain points, targeted advertisement strategies, and so on.
Examples of How to Market a B2B Company
- Establish your brand positioning and target audience: You could have high-quality products or services and a bulletproof marketing strategy, but without a defined target audience your B2B company will fall flat. Before you start formulating plans for anything else, make sure you have determined your target B2B customer and their pain points.
- Conduct market research and position your business: It sounds obvious, but extensive market research is vital to the success of your B2B. You need to find other businesses like yours and study their strategies and niches, then learn where your products and services will fit into that, carving out a niche of your own. If establishing your target audience is taking aim, then market research is improving your stance before you fire.
- Identify your preferred marketing strategy: And the bullet? That will be your chosen marketing strategy. There are several ports that you can utilise to package and deliver your marketing campaign. You can choose whichever best suits your brand position but, usually, a combination of all three is best.
- Content Marketing: Good quality content builds brand trust and establishes your B2B as a company that other businesses can trust. As opposed to other marketing strategies, content is less focused on CTAs (call-to-actions) and leads and more on providing high-quality information - using business blogs, industry reports, case studies, and testimonials. Content marketing is a slow and steady game, but does more for your brand in the long run than any other form of marketing.
- Digital Marketing: In this day and age, a digital presence is essential to any successful B2B company, and most marketing strategies cross over into digital. Effective digital marketing techniques include a business website, SEO optimisation on all content, and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. The purpose of a digital marketing campaign is to position your brand in the sights of buyers and convert the highest number of leads.
- Email Marketing: Despite our communication advancements, email remains a dependable method of marketing that is put to good use by B2B and B2C marketers across the world. It is an affordable and direct line to both individual customers and businesses. A successful campaign relies on several things, including alluring subject lines, mobile optimisation, focussed subject matter and specific CTAs.
- Social Media Marketing: Socials are a brilliant platform for targeting individual buyers, so are a vital resource for B2C companies – but how can it help B2Bs? Social media marketing is unique, as it builds a voice for your brand. It may not be so good for converting leads, as it is for B2Cs, but it adds a twist of personality to your brand image, whilst keeping products and services in the main light. Social media’s potential continues to grow, so it is worth the effort to get your brand established on as many platforms as possible, so as not to be left behind.
- Get ready to reap the rewards: You have a marketing campaign tailored to attract your chosen audience to your niche. You have identified what they want and their pain points, and honed your content to target that. From here, you have done everything you can to create a B2B company that businesses want to connect with. You have carefully chosen ammunition, the correct posture, and your crosshair is lined up with the bullseye. All that is left to do is to fire.
Unlock the Potential of B2B E-Commerce Today
Whether you are a business looking to connect to a new supply chain that is dedicated to you, or to branch out and offer your own products and services to the wider business world, we hope our guide has helped to clear some of the fog surrounding the business-to-business e-commerce. We have only scratched the surface of this vast business model and its many facets, but even with basic knowledge in hand, you can start to harness B2B e-commerce and marketing for the betterment of our business.
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