B2B Marketing: a Detailed Guide Including 8 Top B2B Marketing Examples

November 16, 2022
Sofie Couwenbergh

Marketing your products or professional services to other businesses isn’t always easy. You need to figure out how you can reach decision-makers and their influencers, figure out how to best guide potential customers through the buyer’s journey, and accept that the decision-making process may take a while.

In business-to-business marketing, multiple touchpoints are usually needed before you can close a sale, which means that building trust and keeping your audience engaged is crucial.

But how?

The eight B2B marketing examples in this post will provide you with inspiration. We’ll also go over the different types of business-to-business marketing you can employ, and share some best practices for creating campaigns that convert.

What is B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing or business-to-business marketing takes place when one business promotes itself, its products, or its services to another business. This can happen in various ways, such as through content marketing, event marketing, and paid advertising.

The goal of B2B marketing is to drive demand and generate leads that can be turned into sales.

B2B marketing vs B2C marketing

In B2B marketing, companies try to sell products and services to (people at) other companies whereas in B2C or business-to-consumer marketing, companies try to sell to non-business-entity, individual consumers. 

An example of B2B marketing would be a SaaS chatbot company publishing blog content in order to attract people who work at companies that could use a chatbot.

An example of B2C marketing would be a clothing brand running billboard ads to persuade people to buy its newest line of shirts.

While similar tactics are used in both, they’re often executed in different ways because of the difference in the audience:

  • B2B audiences are generally (much) smaller than B2C audiences. Nike, for example, markets its products to active people all over the world while a Gmail extension SaaS such as Gmelius specifically targets companies with small teams.
  • The lead time for B2B sales is often longer than for B2C sales, so there is a higher focus on building trust, authority, and lasting relationships in B2B marketing.
  • B2C marketing will more often play to the emotional side of potential buyers by inducing things such as a sense of scarcity and a sense of urgency, while continuously demonstrating value is more important in B2B marketing. B2C customers are more likely to purchase something based on how it makes them feel, while B2C customers are looking for things that help them save time or money, or that help them generate more revenue.

Types of B2B Marketing

There are a lot of different ways in which a company can perform B2B marketing. Here are a few of the most popular ones.

Inbound vs Outbound B2B Marketing

All types of B2B marketing we’ll discuss below fall into one of these two categories. 

Inbound marketing aims to draw in leads by being present and sharing valuable content in the places where prospects hang out. Examples are:

  • Blog posts that rank on Google.
  • LinkedIn posts that can be read by followers and non-followers alike.
  • Having a booth at a summit.

Outbound marketing interrupts the prospects to get their attention and win their interest. Examples are:

  • Cold calling.
  • Cold emailing.
  • Walking up to someone at a conference to pitch them.

B2B Event Marketing

Event marketing entails organizing or attending an event that is – ideally – relevant to your business goals. Examples include:

  • Organizing a virtual summit.
  • Hosting a webinar.
  • Attending a conference.
  • Going to a trade fair.

B2B Content Marketing

Content marketing is any type of marketing that uses content to build trust, interest, and engagement with your target audience with the goal of generating new leads. A solid content marketing strategy determines what will be published, where, and when.

The five main types of content marketing are blog content marketing, social media marketing, video marketing, podcasting, and email marketing.

Blog Content Marketing

Publishing interesting content that is highly valuable to your ideal customers on your website is a great way to build authority but for that to work, two key criteria need to be fulfilled:

  1. Your articles need to be engaging.
  2. Your audience needs to be able to find them.

Because of that second criterium, blog content marketing often goes hand-in-hand with social media marketing (blog posts get shared on the company’s social media channels) and SEO. 

While Search Engine Optimization isn’t a pure marketing strategy in and of itself, optimizing your articles for the search engines ensures that they can get found by your target customers and keep performing for months, even years after you’ve published them.

Is your blog content not getting you any leads? At Flow, we specialize in creating content strategies that generate the right kind of traffic. Get in touch to find out more.

Social Media Marketing

The key to successful social media marketing is engagement. No matter whether your audience is predominantly on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or elsewhere still, all of these platforms reward brands that generate likes, comments, and shares.

Video Marketing

YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google and the average of 3 billion searches a month on the platform are definitely not all for cat videos. B2B brands that have a YouTube channel use video marketing to explain complex concepts in tangible ways, provide how-to’s for their products, and share knowledge with peers and prospects alike.

Podcasting 

Podcasting not only gives you the opportunity to broadcast your knowledge, it also gives you an excuse to talk to your target audience and other authorities in your industry if you decide to go with the interview format.

On top of that, podcasting is also a good way to reach those who prefer consuming audio content over written content.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is content marketing as far as it concerns sending promotional emails such as marketing campaigns and newsletters (not cold email outreach).

The exact number differs depending on which study you read, but it’s safe to say that for each dollar invested in email marketing, you’ll generate a return of $36. That makes email marketing a highly valuable B2B marketing tool.

B2B Referral Marketing

In referral marketing or affiliate marketing, companies pay other companies to bring them new customers. This can happen through a brand’s official affiliate program that companies can sign up for and that offers them marketing material to use to promote the brand. Other times, companies will close affiliate deals behind the scenes.

Project management tool Asana’s affiliate program is a good example of public B2B referral marketing. Other companies can sign up to become an Asana affiliate and earn a commission each time they refer a new client.

An example of behind-the-scenes B2B referral marketing would be a video marketing agency paying a paid ads agency a commission for each client they send over. As clients of paid ads agencies often need video creative, it makes sense for these two types of agencies to become referral partners.

B2B Influencer Marketing

In influencer marketing, companies collaborate with individuals who have an audience that is part of the companies target audience. Oftentimes, brands will pay these influencers to use, showcase, or talk about the brand’s products on the influencers’ channels. Sometimes, they’ll strike a barter deal, which means they’ll offer the influencer a free product sample in exchange for being featured by them.

B2B SMS Marketing

SMS marketing consists of sending promotional text messages to leads and customers. Just as with B2C SMS marketing, B2B marketing requires you to have these people’s permission to contact them via SMS.

A few use cases for B2B SMS marketing are:

  • Keeping customers informed about product updates and features.
  • Reminding leads about upcoming webinars and meetings.
  • Sending follow-ups.
  • Gathering customer feedback.

B2B Paid Advertising

Facebook ads, advertorials, and billboard ads are all forms of paid advertising. This type of marketing can be highly effective but also highly costly if you don’t nail your targeting. Before you start putting money in paid ads, it’s important to get very clear on:

  • Who you are targeting.
  • What kind of ad creative they might respond well to.
  • Which stage of the buyer journey they find themselves in.

A subtype of paid advertising is performance marketing. This is a type of paid advertising in which the company that advertises only pays when a lead takes action, such as clicking a link or filling out a form. Facebook and Google ads are types of performance marketing.

Inspiring B2B Marketing Examples

Now that you have an idea of the different types of B2B marketing out there, let’s have a look at some companies that get them right.

Startups.com’s Podcast

Online startup accelerator Startups.com tackles questions and pain points startups are facing on its Startup Therapy Podcast. What really makes it valuable is that the two hosts are serial entrepreneurs offering their unique perspectives on running a startup. They are trustworthy authority figures founders want to hear from.

The podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, TuneIn, and Stitcher, meaning it can draw in new leads from all of those platforms while offering its existing audience to chance to listen through their favorite podcast app.

360Learning’s Reality Show

360Learning takes it a step further with the full-blown reality TV or – as they call it – “unscripted docu series” Onboarding Joei. The series follows Joei as she starts working for a tech startup and is, at the time of writing, already on Season 2.

The series shows how Joei learns about her company’s expectations for her, its culture, her tasks, and more. In essence, it’s about how Joei grows into her role.

This theme fits well with 360Learning’s goal of helping companies turn their in-house experts into trainers and making professional development a smooth experience for everyone involved.

Mailchimp’s Trend Analysis

Mailchimp’s Briefings section of its online publication Courier keeps the brand’s target customers up-to-date on the latest trends in industries that matter to them. Rather than creating content around email marketing – the brand’s product, Mailchimp provides an analytical look at and valuable insights into topics that are of interest to companies that (could) use Mailchimp for their email marketing campaigns.

It’s an approach that sets them apart from other email marketing tools and that gives readers a reason to come back.

ConvertKit’s Pillar Content

We’ve written before about the importance of pillar content for ranking well and for providing a  pleasant on-site user experience. Email marketing tool ConvertKit does a good job at creating pillar content tailored to its target audience of content creators.

This article on how to vlog tackles a concern many beginning vloggers have – “Do I need that expensive camera?” – and goes over vlogging basics such as how to build an audience and how often to create a new vlog. It links through to more detailed guides on video equipment and choosing a niche, as well as other pillar content on blogging on podcasting, keeping the reader engaged and on the blog.

Animalz’s Thought Leadership Content

Content marketing agency Animalz is great at creating highly targeted, long-form content for its target audience of SaaS marketers. Sometimes, that happens in the form of data-driven long-form analytical pieces. Other times, with articles such as this one about the Content Value Curve.

Great thought leadership content builds trust and authority. It also shows that your brand stands for something by sharing its unique perspective, thus solidifying your brand positioning.

Chris Walker’s Founder Brand

Chris Walker is the founder and CEO of Refine Labs, a demand generation agency, and a great example of how founders can use their personal brands to market their companies. 

When you look at Walker’s LinkedIn profile, the things he posts, and the threads he engages with, it’s clear that all of his actions on the B2B social media platform are meant to strengthen his brand as an agency founder and thus, by extension, his agency’s brand. He has a clear content strategy for his LinkedIn that allows him to increase brand awareness for his agency at the same time as building his own founder’s brand.

There is nothing on his profile that is not somehow related to demand generation, which makes it very clear what he is a thought leader on, and this type of authority transfers over onto his agency. 

Canva’s Events

One of the best ways to make people want to use or keep using your product is by showing them all the amazing things it can do and that is exactly what Canva does with its Canva Events. Canva Events is a series of webinars, workshops, and Q&A sessions all about creating amazing graphics and video content… using Canva.

Since Canva has a diverse audience of both individual creators and larger companies, it adds a “Canva for Teams workshop” to those events that are specifically targeted at teams. All of the events are free and signing up is as easy as clicking a “register now” button.

Monday.com’s Paid Billboards

Workflow and productivity tool Monday.com may be an online platform, it knows part of its target audience lives in London and takes the tube, so a few years ago, it decided to meet them while they were waiting for their train.

With billboards such as this one, the brand referred to work then Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to accomplish to promote its product. It’s relevant, it’s funny, and it’s highly customized to the people who see it and the events they were facing at the time.

Dave Gerhardt’s Viral Video

While you can’t control whether a piece of content goes viral, there are a few things that increase its chances of gaining traction. One of them is humor, another is stirring the pot, and this video on how life is too short to work for a CEO that doesn’t get marketing by entrepreneur Dave Gerhardt uses both.

The video also stands out because it’s non-promotional – something that’s rare in B2B marketing where everything is aimed at generating leads and sales. It only shows a brand logo at the end and has a simple CTA in the video description.

At the time of writing, the video gathered over 224.000 views in a year’s time. Gerhardt’s LinkedIn post sharing the video got over 4,000 reactions, 272 comments, and 47 reposts. 

And the related tweet, finally, gained 116 retweets, 26 quote tweets, and no less than 872 likes. 

Not bad!

B2B Marketing Best Practices

The examples above all stand out for different reasons, but that doesn’t mean creating an effective B2B marketing campaign is a matter of luck. There are some B2B marketing best practices you can follow to increase your chances of a high ROI.

Create And Maintain Brand Consistency

No matter the marketing channels you’re active on, you want your ideal customers to recognize you. That means being consistent with how you present your brand both in terms of the topics you talk about and the look you give your content.

Have A Clear And Relevant CTA

Whether it’s hitting “like”, clicking a link, or filling out a form, you need to let people know what you want them to do. That means having a clear call-to-action on your marketing materials, from your Facebook ads to your LinkedIn posts and your promotional emails.

Your CTA should also be relevant and related to the message of your campaign – and vice versa. If you’re selling an email marketing tool and you just published an article on how to run webinars for lead generation, you’ll CTA will perform better if you ask people to sign up for a free trial to see how your tool can automate their email marketing funnels, than if you highlight its list segmentation feature – which isn’t as relevant to the content of your blog post.

Know Your Audience

To reach and engage your target audience effectively, you need to know them deeply. That means knowing where they hang out online and offline, which words they use to describe the problems you can help them with, who the decision makers are within the companies they’re targeting, and who influences their decisions. 

Deliver Value

Good B2B marketing campaigns deliver value. They provide the answer to a problem, teach the audience something, or sometimes simply entertain. Briefly put, they leave whoever consumes the campaign with a positive emotion and put your brand in a positive light.

B2B Marketing: an Array of Options

There are many ways in which you can market your offer to other business professionals. What matters is that you stay true to your brand and follow the B2B marketing best practices outlined above.

If you need some inspiration while crafting your marketing plan, review the B2B marketing examples we shared. They’re all great in different ways but what they have in common is that they share relevant content for their target audiences.

Not sure where to start? We’re a bit biased, but we think blog content marketing is an indispensable marketing strategy for software and eLearning companies who want to drive organic traffic. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you with that.

Author

Sofie Couwenbergh
Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more qualified leads and keep customers engaged with engaging optimized articles like the one you’ve just read.
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