Here are 6 misconceptions surrounding business marketing and our solutions for those reluctant to embrace it.
The paradox of business-to-business (B2B) leaders not recognising the value of marketing in a world where marketing shapes everything is real and baffling. Understanding the reasons why reveals that a change in mindset is certainly due.
In the B2B world I have battled with business owners and managers, and more recently discussed with clients, the reoccurring theme that many leaders are sceptical about the value of marketing. With a B2B focus for most of my 20+ year career, I truly believe that marketing shapes nearly every facet of our lives in the Western world – it is everywhere we look. So, it got me thinking… why do some business leaders still struggle to recognise marketing’s potential to influence business decisions?
After much discussion with our Focused Marketing team, here are 6 key reasons why B2B leaders are reluctant to embrace business marketing:
One of the key reasons is that it can be challenging to accept marketing’s perceived intangibility. Unlike tangible products or services, marketing strategies operate in the realm of perceptions, emotions, and brand image. This makes it difficult for some leaders to quantify the direct ROI of marketing initiatives, leading to a reluctance to invest.
Consider: Implementing robust marketing reporting and measures of success.
Although there are challenges surrounding the ability to quantify your marketing initiatives, there are several tools and metrics to more accurately measure your marketing investments. Some of these include:
- Google Analytics (website and paid media)
- Social media analytics – tracking followers and engagement
- Site cookies
- Client enquiries, requests for proposals and sales
- Client retention rates
- Email engagement
2. Long sales cycles
B2B transactions often involve multiple decision-makers, intricate buying processes, and lengthy sales cycles. This complexity and time scale often obscures the direct link between business marketing efforts and sales. As a result, B2B leaders struggle to attribute business success to specific marketing initiatives, making it harder for them to appreciate marketing’s role in shaping purchasing decisions.
Consider: Implementing and/or tracking through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
CRM technology is a great solution for bridging the gap between your company’s relationships and interactions with clients and potential clients. Some of our favourites are Salesforce, Vision 6 and Mailchimp.
3. Access to data
In the digital age, data-driven decision making is expected. Gathering comprehensive data on the impact of B2B marketing strategies is complicated because the transactions are different. They are usually large-scale and high-value, vs high volume in the B2C space. This scarcity of data clouds correlations between marketing efforts and results.
Consider: Customer surveys and feedback.
Collect feedback from your customers through surveys, interviews, or feedback forms. Qualitative data can provide you with insights into the effectiveness of your marketing touchpoints, where you are making an impact, and will also help you identify areas for improvement.
4. Product centricity
B2B businesses generally place a heavy emphasis on product features, specifications, and competitive pricing. This product-centric mindset overshadows the influence marketing has in shaping perceptions, building confidence, brand loyalty, and even fostering long-term relationships. Always prioritising features over emotions leads to overlooking the intangible benefits marketing offers.
Consider: Customer centric marketing strategy.
Reworking your business marketing strategy to focus on the client as opposed to just the product will allow you to tap into your clients’ needs and wants, and connect with them on an emotional (more personal) level.
5. Short term goals
On the face of it, marketing goals don’t always align with B2B sales focus. Leaders will almost certainly prioritise short-term revenue generation over investing time and money in marketing. This misalignment can lead to underestimating the role that marketing plays in nurturing future customers.
Consider: Broadening your perception of marketing.
In our experience, successful B2B marketing focuses on building trust (brand equity), demonstrating your experience (thought leadership, case studies), and building relationships (often all online, think social media). You need to nurture your marketing channels and brand to nurture those future customers.
6. Old school understanding
The traditional view of marketing as advertising and promotional activities still lingers. Leaders who have outdated perceptions of what marketing actually encompasses in the B2B space will fail to see how today’s marketing transforms decision-making. Gen Y and Z care more about brand value and will always research online before approaching a company. Business marketing is no longer campaign based, it is perception based. So working on your brand value is critical.
Consider: Strategically building brand value.
Marketing has evolved into a multi-dimensional strategy that encompasses thought leadership, websites, content creation and social engagement – all of which contribute to your brand presence. Brand value comes from perceptions: how your team talk to your customers, consistency in service and style, how interacting with your business feels. Business marketing can be simple and effective, it includes things like sales documents, presentations, uniforms… even your invoicing.
Don’t sell directly to consumers? That doesn’t mean you don’t need business marketing. Marketing is putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and making it easy for them to see how your product or service can solve their problems. It’s showcasing your solutions in an easy-to-find way. Today’s buyers are researchers – they don’t call you, they don’t meet you – unless they already feel that you can help them.
Business marketing isn’t all about flashy campaigns. It is a strategic force that influences perceptions, nurtures relationships, and shapes decision-making. By embracing the evolving nature of business marketing, B2B leaders can unlock a world of untapped potential.
For more information and assistance with your marketing strategy, contact our team at Focused Marketing and make it happen!