An effective business-to-business advertising strategy can be difficult for organisations to execute, and is generally thought of as being much more challenging than implementing a business-to-consumer approach. With B2B advertising, you have more limited options and therefore need to be more strategic with your approach. We’ve put together some practical steps to help you understand the “do’s and don’ts” of B2B advertising.
1. Have a winning strategy in place from the start
It may sound obvious, but if you don’t develop a well-defined, accurate strategy from the beginning, it will affect your long-term advertising goals. One of the most important aspects of a successful B2B advertising strategy is to ensure that you create a desired ‘tone’ across advertising platforms, and make sure that tone is consistent right the way through. Some businesses may take a casual, humorous approach with their advertising, whereas others may want to come across as being more formal and eminent.
This will ultimately depend on whether your primary objective is to increase traffic and conversions or capture leads. Once you have defined your strategy, it’s imperative to align the activities that your business will carry out day-to-day with your advertising strategy to keep the message consistent and meet your objectives. For example, drawing up a schedule of what ads will be posted and when, is always a good way to create and manage good B2B advertising content.
2. Set realistic goals
The important thing to remember with B2B advertising is that sales don’t happen overnight. It’s different to B2C in the sense that you must remain patient with your strategy, and trust that the sales will follow. Curating a set of realistic, achievable goals will help you stay on track and get the most out of your advertising plan.
Define your long-term goals, and then establish a set of measurable short-term objectives that are in co-ordination with these. Having measurable, smaller goals allows you to monitor progress with ease, and ensures that you stay on schedule. For example, you can set conversion goals in your short-term objectives which basically means a goal is set for each piece of content you are going to create.
With B2B marketing, content is often created specifically with the purpose of leading on to the next piece of content, therefore building a ‘purchasing path’ that your customers are taken through. This is implemented regularly (short-term) but is ultimately leading to your long-term goals of converting traffic and leads into sales.
3. Decide on the best media channels for your target audience
Several factors need to be considered when you’re deciding on what media channels to use for your advertising. First things first, it’s important to understand that you’re not just trying to catch the eye of the public with a glamorous advertisement, you’re trying to get a message across to other businesses about your product or service. That doesn’t mean your advertising strategy can’t be fun and creative, but it means that whatever media channels you decide to use must be those channels that are seen and used by your target audience i.e. other businesses. This does limit your options slightly, but don’t fret, there are still a wide variety of options available to you.
With B2B, you need to decide on a media channel that will allow you to directly target other businesses, and for that reason it’s wise to avoid pumping absurd amounts of money into TV and radio ads that are not going to specifically target those businesses that you eventually want to have as your customers. Trade magazines, local newspapers, and good old fashioned trade shows are the most effective media channels for B2B advertising.
According to MediaPost, “trade shows remain the top source for B2B lead generation, with 77% of marketers saying they generate a significant quantity of leads, and 82% saying they generate high-quality leads.” Social media channels in today’s digital world are of obvious importance, which brings me to my next point.
4. The effectiveness of social media channels
When it comes to using social media channels as part of your B2B advertising strategy, it’s all about creating an online presence and staying active. Connecting, posting, sharing, and networking are all aspects of social media that can be extremely beneficial to businesses. Not only does this allow you to target your immediate audience, it provides you with the opportunity of expanding your presence internationally.
Although social media channels can be slow in terms of conversion rates, they’re an effective method of helping you to increase the value of your offering, building an online presence, communicating with your target audience, and improving your reputation. Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights found that “57% of inbound B2B marketers have obtained leads from LinkedIn, 52% from Facebook, and 44% from Twitter”, and most B2B marketers use an average of six platforms.
5. Mobile marketing is a key player
Mobile marketing is becoming more important than ever before. Smart Insights showed that “mobile now accounts for over half of web traffic, and where previously B2B companies could assume that their customers would be researching them on desktop devices, now a new breed of business owner using mobile devices to research solutions on the go means B2B marketers need to be sure that their content is mobile optimised to ensure a smooth process for users on all devices.”
If you want to impress your customers and build a prestigious status, having your website available across all platforms will make you stand out from the crowd even more, and build that prestigious status in the minds of your customers.
The last word
Let’s face it, B2B advertising strategies are more difficult to develop, define, and implement than B2C methods. But what marketers must realise is that by following these simple steps, it will open doors to new opportunities, new media channels, new social media followers, and eventually new customers. Patience is key, but an organisation wide advertising strategy must be followed from the ground up.
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