What Is Business To Business Marketing?

Marketing may be a major business function, but it isn’t very well understood in the B2B environment. There are lots of academic definitions, but often they only make sense to those who already understand marketing. The definitions also tend to focus on B2C, rather than B2B, marketing.

I have a definition that comes from practical experience. It might not make the cut for Webster’s, but for most people, it helps clarify what B2B marketing is and what it does.

Defining where and how the company will compete: This entails the research and decisions that define the company’s focus related to the markets the company participates in and its position in those markets (market intelligence and market strategy).

Generating awareness and leads: These are the activities that sit at the top of the sales funnel. These are often called “lead generation” or “awareness activities”, as they bring in the leads that the business development team works to convert to revenues (lead generation and education).

Supporting the sales process: These are the activities that sit alongside the funnel and produce a positive perception of the company, as well as tangible tools and information that support the sales process (branding and sales support).

Creating loyal customers: These are the activities that sit at the end of the funnel and ensure that existing customers stay loyal to the company and buy again, and in greater quantities, in the future.

There’s often debate about what differentiates sales from marketing in B2B companies. Sales and marketing are incredibly intertwined and it can be difficult to draw a line between the two.

There’s increasing use of the term demand generation, which is particularly useful in early stage B2B companies. It combines sales and marketing—acknowledging the overlap between activities that are segregated at some companies.

For most companies, there does need to be a defining line between sales activities and marketing activities particularly as the business grows and sales people become too busy to engage in marketing.

The description in the previous chapter starts the discussion about what differentiates the responsibilities of marketing and sales. Not every company follows these guideposts nor should they.

When you hear “marketing”, what do you think of? Most people think of consumer marketing, the domain of Coke and Disney, Apple and Ford. Consumer marketing (Business to Consumer or B2C) is dominated by splashy, creative advertisements and massive budgets. During the Super Bowl, companies spend millions of dollars to grab the attention of viewers for just 30 seconds. That is B2C marketing

Unfortunately, people’s familiarity with B2C marketing leads to confusion and frustration with B2B marketing. While there are important consistencies between the two, there are significant differences.

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