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Business to Business (B2B) marketing is all about delivering value to the customers. Here are the edges you can sharpen to deliver value and achieve success in B2B marketing:
#1 INSIGHTS - Know thy market, customer and competition:
All marketing starts first with customer knowledge and market insights. Successful B2B marketers invest time to understand the industry dynamics and the way the value chain is arranged for the particular prospect that they are targeting. This important first step is sometimes fast-tracked in on-boarding which eventually results in weaker marketing impact.
Once the industry and organizational knowledge is acquired, then the buying process of the decision making unit should to be mapped clearly. Ability to understand the customer’s specific challenges and needs will help to develop special propositions that deliver great value. Great B2B marketers have genuine curiosity about understanding the competitive offering and the value it delivers to customers – only then they can create differentiation.
#2 BENEFITS - Don’t just focus on product knowledge – think about product benefits
Product knowledge is a given in B2B marketing; however, great B2B marketers develop their understanding that goes beyond product specifications and features - they understand the key benefits the product or service delivers. Often it is seen that product knowledge and training is built around the technical aspects only. Extra effort is required to link customer insights to real value and benefits sought. This is a key step to move the focus of marketing from internal to external.
#3 ADVOCACY - Be the voice of customer in the organisation:
B2B Marketers should be the voice of customer in the organisation. Having key insights about customers and the benefits sought; marketers need to play a key role to shape the product development and delivery of end-to-end value with various partners like product and technology teams. In absence of this, most internal discussions get centered on price and hence limit the value that can be delivered.
#4 ALLIANCES – Walk in the shoes of your sales partners.
Successful B2B marketers invest the time to build sales alliances and regularly go out in the field with them. This helps to:
- Outline what kind of sales tools and materials are required. Hence the output that the marketing team develops is valued by the sales team and helps the customer understand the benefits.
- Provide a good understanding of the gaps the sales team may have in competencies and help to develop training content to fill them.
- Capture competitive intelligence as often sales teams enjoy a great relationship with the buying units. Spending time with them gives the marketer first-hand knowledge which generally does not come from looking at databases in the office.
So as you embark upon your B2B marketing journey or re-calibrate your existing one, think regularly about how you and your team will deliver value to the customer and leverage the organizational chain - after all, it really is about value.
The writer is Amjad Shahabuddin, global marketing manager - Aviation Lubricants, Shell Eastern Petroleum Pte Ltd Singapore
Hear more from Shahabuddin at B2B Asia 2015.
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