Our customers almost exclusively deal business to business. The reason we focus on this specific segment is because they tend to have limited in-house marketing resources, so we can fill a gap in a flexible format. As a rule, B2B companies in the SME space have a management team consisting of a CEO/Business owner as well as a Sales, Finance and Operations Manager.
Selling is the key marketing activity. And clearly, selling is the most important marketing function in B2B.
Marketing is generally equated with advertising, which is on the nose (and often for good reasons). Marketing is not seen as a strategic tool, because it is often not understood. The Accenture report I referred to in my last post pointed this out too, but related more to large corporate companies (with Marketing Managers) rather than SME’s who have no internal marketing champion.
Take branding. When recently discussing a proposed tagline with a customer they insisted on using a tagline that would explain what they do. I argued that we need to aim for an emotional response, not a factual one. I read an interesting article in MarketingProfs by Kevin Randall, which has an interesting observation:
People say that they are not influenced by advertisements, but data and client spending suggest otherwise. In the early-to-mid 1980s, IBM did
not have the best computer systems or pricing. “Big Blue,” however, became the enterprise systems market leader because you never got fired for buying IBM (same with Cisco today). IT Directors “bought” a relationship, company,
reputation, service, people, assurance. In other words, they bought
goodwill or the brand.
I still believe that most marketing services are aimed at either large corporate or FMCG organisations, not business-to-business, not SME. They need a combination of marketing services, rather than point solutions. From help with analysing opportunties to branding, to marketing communications and customer satifaction/loyalty programs.
A great opportunity for progressive B2B companies, a great opportunity for marketing firms.