What do you think of when you think of marketing? If you’re like most Americans, you think of Super Bowl commercials, or the credit card offers that fill your mailbox, or the signs on buses urging you to call a trial lawyer NOW to get the money you deserve – or any of the hundreds of other messages that bombard you daily.
But that’s not what the smart people at the Bradford Group think about when we think about marketing. We think about marketing to businesses, not consumers. In marketing jargon, it’s called B2B marketing, as in business-to-business marketing.
B2B marketing is the heart of our public relations and marketing practice, which focuses primarily on five industries in which marketing to businesses plays a major role: technology, finance, healthcare, commercial real estate and law.
What makes business marketing different than consumer marketing?
Although this is a gross generalization, business marketing hunts with a rifle, consumer marketing uses a shotgun. That is, we target a very specific market in business marketing, such as C-level executives in the hardware industry, or HR directors of Fortune 500 companies. Consumer marketing tends to aim for broader markets, like college-educated women age 30-50, or homeowners. (Again, this a broad generalization. Some consumer items target a very narrow spectrum of consumers.)
Tightly defined markets are smaller than broadly defined ones, which translates into lower overall costs for marketing. It is less expensive to advertise in Healthcare Payor News, with circulation of 160,000, than it is to place an ad in USA Today, which has 2.2 million subscribers. And, if your client is in the healthcare technology business, it is actually more effective to be in the smaller, tightly targeted publication than in a national newspaper.
Note that while the total cost of B2B marketing may be less than B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing, the cost per impression is usually more. For example, it might cost $10 per reader to advertise in a trade magazine, but only pennies per person in a national consumer magazine, because of its much larger circulation.
Though all marketing is emotion-based – because we base our purchase decisions on meeting emotional needs – B2B marketing messages tend to be more reason-based – or at least have a patina of reason over the underlying emotional-based message.
Fundamentally, though, B2B and B2C marketing are more alike than that they are different. They both require a deep understanding of the target market and focus on benefits, not features. (Benefits are the emotional needs that a product or service meets. Features simply describe the product or service.)
And they both require creativity, perception, persistence and empathy.