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Selling to Other Businesses: 9 Sales Promotion Methods for a B2B Market

Stella Morrison
Stella Morrison

B2B marketing is different from selling to consumers. These are some ways you can do it.

Purchase decisions are significantly different in business-to-business (B2B) markets than they are in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets. B2B companies are looking for products and services that can help boost their bottom line, which goes beyond typical considerations like price, features, and quantity. B2B arrangements involve considering technical specifications, partnership agreements and strategic procurement plans.

What is B2B marketing?

B2B marketing involves a strategy geared toward companies instead of individuals. Unlike B2C marketing, which relies heavily on tactics like sales that turn browsers into customers, B2B tactics focus more on building relationships and offering solutions to problems a company may be experiencing. In B2B marketing, the business is the customer, not individuals within the company.

Bottom LineBottom Line: B2B marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract business from companies instead of individuals.

9 B2B marketing tactics you should know

B2B sales promotions are not as extensive as consumer sales promotions. For example, coupons and codes are not typically used in the B2B market. Instead, B2B sales promotion shifts focus and instead prioritizes a range of other tactics.

1. Trade shows and exhibitions

Trade shows, also known as trade fairs or business expos, are events collectively organized by multiple companies or industry associations. Companies from a particular sector come together to showcase the services and products they offer, hoping to connect with representatives from businesses that can use their products. Many professional services attend and exhibit at trade shows and exhibitions, such as accounting firms, marketing agencies and software companies.

Trade shows and exhibitions are among the best places for companies to get more business, sow the seeds of partnerships and advertise their technical know-how. Companies can also use trade shows to gauge competitor performance by walking the show floor and checking out what similar companies are up to.

2. Sample products

Sometimes, if the product a company launches is new to the market, manufacturers may send free samples or offer free demos or trial periods to their prospective B2B customers. The objective here is to give customers an opportunity to use the product and make a purchase decision, which they often can't do without getting a sense of why your product or service is superior. The salesperson visits the client with a sample unit of the new product. If given the green light, they help their prospect install and use the product.

Samples are of great importance in B2B markets, as companies are looking to make big investments in the new products and services they buy. If your items ease their biggest pain points, that's the start of a healthy, long-term relationship.

3. Trade-ins

Through trade-in offers, customers can secure a discount on a new model of the product in exchange for the older version. This is highly effective in B2B markets, as companies can save significantly on needed upgrades while offloading old or damaged parts. It’s a win-win: Companies keep their customers happy and lock in their business for another renewal period, while the customer stays with a company with whom they’re familiar and satisfied.

4. Promotional products

Promotional products are effective ways of sticking around in a potential new customer's mind long after the initial conversation ends. When that item makes its way back to the would-be buyer's desk, it serves as a constant reminder that this business is an option when the time comes to acquire those products or services. Keychains with the company logo, t-shirts with the product name and pens with the image of the brand's mascot are some examples of promotional products.

Promotional products can also be used to say "thank you" to a new customer. If a company purchases from a supplier, the seller may give branded gifts as a kind gesture that formally welcomes them into the fold.

5. Social media promotions

Social media isn't just for connecting to consumers. It's also a great resource for reaching other businesses. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are great for engaging with other businesses and brands that may be in the market for your product or service.

According to a study by Hinge Marketing, more than 60% of buyers check out an unknown brand on social media before they purchase. This gives B2B companies a great opportunity to prove their value to potential customers through their social media profiles. Consider sharing valuable information, product features and benefits, and client reviews on the company's social media profile to showcase the unique benefits and advantages of your business to potential customers.

FYIFYI: Business owners rarely purchase on impulse, and if you want your B2B marketing efforts to be effective, you'll have to clearly demonstrate the value your product or service provides.

6. Search engine optimization

If you're looking to generate new B2B leads, optimizing your website for search engines is a great way to help business owners find you. When businesses encounter a paint point, one of the first places they turn for potential solutions is the internet. The higher up your company lands on a search results page, the more likely a customer will be to check you out. That's because more than 25% of searchers click on the very first result, and even fewer go below the third result on the page. If your business is among the first few results when a user searches terms related to your industry or service, you can expect a steady stream of leads.

There are many ever-evolving points influencing how search engines categorize your site and display it in search results, including "on-page" efforts that rank the overall quality and technical soundness of your site, and "off-page" efforts that include backlinks from other high-quality or relevant websites to your website. Depending on the complexity of your website or business, you could choose to hire an SEO specialist or do it yourself.

7. B2B content marketing

Creating a blog filled with engaging content can help build rapport and authority with website visitors. This is particularly effective for B2B marketing because of user intent. Companies in search of a solution to a particular pain point are typing in more specific queries, indicating that they are seriously searching for solutions offered by businesses like yours. Many businesses will create a blog and regularly post content to their website, creating informative and valuable articles that will showcase your knowledge and expertise to potential customers. When done well, an active blog can be a powerful tool for inbound leads from search engines.

8. Email marketing

Email marketing goes hand in hand with social media and SEO. Those are both great tactics for attracting new leads, while email marketing is great for turning those leads into consistent customers. Businesses owners are far less likely to buy a product on an impulse than regular consumers. They are more likely to shop around to find the best deal and email marketing is a great strategy for keeping in touch with those customers who view your product but don't immediately buy.

It's a great way to offer coupons and announce any events or new merch your company is offering. Any extra incentive you can give to convince readers of your value could mean the difference between a failed connection and a lifelong customer.  

TipTip: You should offer incentives for customers to subscribe to your email list. Free trials are always good if it's possible for what you're offering. Exclusive content and educational materials like eBooks and video tutorials work also.

9. Online advertising

Pay per click (PPC) campaigns can help put your business in front of audiences serious about buying your product or service. A PPC campaign, managed with a platform like Google AdWords, helps you target potential customers by building a profile of who your likely buyer is and what they are searching for. Use these ads wisely: Consider leading viewers to a piece of engaging gated content that requires registration before downloading, so you can capture contact information and reach out to secure the sale.

Image Credit: Nopphon-Pattanasri / Getty Images
Stella Morrison
Stella Morrison
business.com Contributing Writer
Stella Morrison is an award-winning writer who focuses on marketing for small businesses, including useful tools and best practices that help business owners introduce their products and services to new audiences. She is also a digital marketing professional who has worked with leading brands in the tech industry.