In sales and marketing parlance, the term business-to-business, also called B2B, is a way to describe the transactions that take place from one company conducting commerce with another company. The consumer in these trades is always another business. When a company sells its products and services to the individual consumer, it is referred to in marketing-speak as B2C, or business-to-consumer.
By setting itself apart as strictly a B2B company, a firm gears its advertising and marketing efforts to other businesses. The customers, or business clients, tune into marketing that’s geared toward them. A business-to-business operation is expected to understand the needs of the client and how to operate within the boundaries of B2B commerce.
A B2B company often develops a different approach to sales that might include more networking than direct marketing or paid advertising. Through groups such as the local chamber of commerce and national trade group associations, B2B firms often look to give and receive business from each other. They are on a more even playing field, opening the door to relationship selling that can prove more effective to long-term sales success.
B2B marketing is very effective online. Company websites that are geared toward sales to commercial clients don’t use graphics, videos and unorthodox fonts to get across their message as much as consumer-oriented sites that appeal to a wider audience. The B2B message online is concise and clear, providing clients with an easy way to navigate the site to find answers and contact information.
Marketing companies need to know the audience of a firm in order to find the right vehicles for public relations placements. Trade journals and business publications and websites are much more effective for articles and ads than television or mass media publications. Search engines are available to qualify B2B marketing to best find and reach commercial customers as well.
A B2B designation, whether it’s in the subtitle of a company or in the body of the main marketing materials, alerts potential clients to a source of services or products that are geared to them. Inclusion in trade groups, invitations to join other members in a group for B2B professionals and deference in the bid process can be helpful to promote business-to-business sales.
Miscommunication can damage the credibility of an organization that claims to be for B2B professionals when it allows B2C representatives in the door. Small business trade groups can be vulnerable to this mistake. While there is nothing wrong with allowing every kind of business professional to be a member, a group should not incorporate the B2B language in its marketing material if that is not what members can expect.