The best B2B marketing strategies start with a detailed understanding of the target buyer and what problem the offer solves.
This knowledge of who you’re marketing to may sound obvious, but all too often, it’s forgotten in the mad dash to talk about tactics like inbound marketing or paid advertising. Many agencies are guilty of this because they want to sell inbound or paid ads and they aren’t selling marketing consulting to help with positioning.
I’m not saying that inbound marketing isn’t a good tactic or paid advertising is bad. The point is that if you jump right into tactics with no strategy and no vision of who your marketing is targeting, that’s a great way to waste a marketing budget! This article will look at B2B marketing strategies specifically for SaaS companies who need to accelerate growth.
Free Guide to B2B SaaS Marketing
Who Are You Marketing to?
The first step in building any marketing strategy is understanding who you’re marketing to. What is their job title, where do they live, what problems are they facing? The more detail you can get in a buyer persona, the more targeted your marketing tactics can be.
Once you know who you’re targeting, the next step is to focus on the problem you’re solving for them. The best approach here is to survey your existing customers, but if that’s not possible, you need to make some educated guesses and then test them and iterate. This test and learn approach should be adopted across your entire marketing effort but it’s particularly critical in identifying the pain point you’re addressing.
It’s also critical to enter this process with an open mind. Often times companies find they are solving different problems than they thought they were. I worked with an AI company that thought it was boosting productivity but when they survey their buyers they found their buyers thought the software was actually stopping them from working on the weekend! And that’s the last point, even if you’re selling a B2B solution the best B2B marketing strategies never forget that they are still marketing to people not to companies.
Persona: Start With Current Customers
Begin by looking at your current customers, your competitor’s customers, and who you believe your ideal customer is. Do they have similarities? These should be a good guide for the full picture of your buyer.
Identify the goals, motivations, and pain points of these profiles. Consider what problems they face every day, and what kind of answers they may be searching for. Many of these will be educated guesses, but you can confirm these hypotheses through your marketing campaigns.
Combine this personal profile with demographic information. You should be able to collate this from your existing customers, or by distributing surveys within your target market.
Enterprise sales cycles are generally long – between 6-8 months. You need to know you’re on the right track long before then. Your buyer’s persona should be your primary guide for all of your marketing messages.
Marketing is never one and done. Stay agile and pay attention to the results of every marketing campaign. You can adapt your marketing as you learn and grow.
Determine Your Brand Positioning
If you scrape your knee, you might go to the store and ask where the band-aids are. In the UK, you may hoover your carpet before having guests over. And if you have a cold, you’ll want to keep a box of kleenex nearby. That these three brands have become so synonymous with the product they sell that they scan as nouns, not names, demonstrating the power of brand positioning.
Your brand will have a perceived persona whether you curate it or not – so leverage that to position your company or solution positively within your industry. Where are you in comparison to your competitors? Can you fill a gap in the market?
There are numerous ways to go about this, but the core ideas remain the same:
- Determining your current brand positioning
- Break down your company values and goals as the essence of your brand
- Research your competition
- Create a framework and mission statement to be integrated into everything you do
- Use marketing to spread that message throughout your industry
- Demonstrate your values and branding through the sales and customer service process
Run a Competitive Analysis
Understanding where your competition is succeeding and failing is crucial. Scope the market for competitors’ product offerings, sales tactics, and marketing strategies. It’s said comparison is the thief of joy, but realistically it’s the fuel behind staying competitive.
As well as your competitors, running a review of your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (AKA a SWOT review) allows you to identify potential issues before they happen. You need to be able to understand your company from an outside perspective, not just your subjective viewpoint.
Stand out from the crowd in order to corner your own area of the market. If you can offer something that similar brands cannot, that needs to be a key element of your marketing message.
Are You Selling Innovation or Disruption
B2B SaaS companies face unique challenges when they build their B2B marketing strategies. Some companies are selling innovation, which I would define as doing something better than anyone else. For example, if you’re selling a better next-generation CRM then that’s an innovation.
But, if you’re selling a new AI tool that automated something that no one thought was possible, you’re selling a disruption which requires an entirely different approach. Innovative software can be marketed directly to customers at both the top and bottom of the funnel . On the other hand, disruptive software means you need to build a demand generation engine. To learn more about demand generation, you can read this article which looks at how content marketing can help build demand.
Are You Really Looking for B2B Marketing Strategy?
There isn’t always a clear line between B2B and B2C marketing strategies, especially with the rise of bringing your own technology to work. Some ostensibly B2B products actually use B2C marketing to land and expand in a company. Slack is a great example of this. Early on, Slack was marketing like a B2C company to mid-level people in companies to help them with communication. They then sold B2B once they had enough users. DTC (or B2C) marketing strategy is slightly different, so it makes sense to think about your approach.
B2C strategies are dominated by paid and content marketing with a level of ‘infotainment’. The content and ads need to entertain as well as educate. Think Duolingo and their ubiquitous and funny Duolingo owl.
B2C marketing is typically more graphically driven, and video is particularly popular with the increasing use of video social networks like TikTok and Instagram. Social media marketing is a particularly popular approach to digital marketing in the B2C industry. These platforms offer organic reach, as well as targeted advertisements for boosted engagement.
Key B2B Strategies
Now that you know who you’re marketing to, and what market you’re targeting, you can begin to build a marketing strategy according to your goals. Ultimately, one of the primary goals of B2B digital marketing is to establish trust and thought leadership, so your B2B strategy should keep that in mind.
Inbound marketing does what it says on the tin. The primary goal is to attract buyers to your business organically, rather than reaching out to them directly. Your website and SEO strategy are the primary drivers for this, alongside brand recognition.
Your SEO strategy relies on targeted keyword research based on your buyers and your market, and building a website and content around these keywords.
Inbound marketing is such a popular strategy for B2B as it builds buyer trust over time, and recognition within your industry as a valuable voice. The more the buyer is directed to your brand or your content, the more trust is generated in the information and solution that you have to offer.
Content marketing is a staple B2B digital marketing strategy, as producing quality content is the mode of delivery for your marketing message. Your content needs to resonate with your audience, and demonstrate how you can provide value to them.
It’s important to create and utilize a variety of content across your marketing, including blog posts, cornerstone pages, eBooks, infographics, video content, and more.
By providing useful resources, you secure your position as a thought leader among your target buyers. However, content isn’t just useful within an inbound marketing approach, your content should boost your outbound and paid marketing efforts.
Social Media Marketing
LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform among B2B buyers. Ultimately, the platform’s USP is to allow people to generate business connections. LinkedIn is useful for B2B marketers, as it’s a great way to build relationships with potential leads, in a relevant setting.
However, this doesn’t mean that LinkedIn is the only viable option for social media marketing. Use your buyer’s persona to make informed decisions on the right channels to occupy. For instance, younger buyer personas may spend more time online on apps like TikTok or Instagram. Comparatively, older buyers’ personas may prefer Facebook and LinkedIn. Around 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-Suite executives use social media when making a purchase so, either way, the key is to reach your buyers where they are.
Around 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement in the last 12 months. Despite email marketing being one of the most long-standing digital marketing strategies, it remains a critical tool in a marketer’s arsenal. There are 4 billion daily active email users, so it’s still as important as ever to utilize email marketing to reach your audience.
Keep your email subscribers and contacts updated with your business and your content offering on a regular basis. Your content should boost your email marketing to increase conversions, and provide value to your readers.
It’s worth noting that paid ads are recently seeing diminishing ROAS, as changes across the industry have meant that less and less tracking data is available. Previously, websites and apps could track your activity across platforms, leading to targeted advertising. Most platforms now rely solely on the data provided while you’re active on them.
Less targeting means less impact, and higher spend for the same results. For many marketers, paid advertising isn’t providing the same ROI as previously.
However, social paid advertising is most affected by this. PPC could still be a great strategy to target buyer’s personas that use Google to find their solutions. Consider small test campaigns to establish whether Google Ads are the right PPC strategy for you.
B2B Marketing Trends to Watch
Marketing is a consistently evolving industry. Marketers need to stay on their toes, and keep on top of the latest changes or trends in the sector. It’s critical not to be left behind with outdated marketing strategies.
As the amount of online content has increased, with influencer and user-generated content becoming more and more popular, affiliate marketing has started to drive the DTC marketing industry.
As a result, many B2B marketers have begun to analyze and adapt this approach for their strategies.
Affiliate marketing for B2B involves partnering with individuals or other organizations to work together to put your solution in front of the audience. Take advantage of the established audience and relationships that your affiliates have to generate new, targeted leads.
With the reduced ROAS seen from paid advertising, marketers have had to find new ways to reach an audience, quickly. Inbound marketing strategies can take 6-9 months before results are clear. Affiliate marketing allows you to reach a specific audience with your content quickly, and see the results in engagement straight away.
Whether a new business, or an established business looking for a boost in your market, affiliate marketing can help to cement relationships with buyers, and create lasting connections in your industry.
Let Nituno Help You Craft Your B2B Marketing Strategy
At Nituno, we are a full-service marketing agency that works with growing B2B businesses to grow and launch their marketing. We understand the challenges that B2B currently faces, and can help you to build a marketing strategy that resonates with the right audience for maximum conversions. Get in touch with us today to discuss your B2B digital marketing approach.