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B2B Marketing Essentials: What Every Marketer Needs to Know

Overview

Marketing is an essential part of any B2B business. It involves understanding customer needs and delivering them to meet their expectations.

Marketing is an essential part of any B2B business. It involves understanding customer needs and delivering value to them in a way that meets their expectations. For successful B2B marketing, marketers need to understand your company's value proposition, what customers value, if your company is delivering on its value promise, and how it is positioned relative to the competition. A lack of knowledge in these critical areas will result in marketing plans that will likely fall short of goals and open the door for competitors. However, knowledge of these essential areas will provide the foundation for a marketing plan to deliver value to customers and build lasting relationships.

Know Your Value Proposition

When it comes to any business, one of the most important things that must be understood is the company's value proposition. Your value proposition describes how your product or service solves a customer's problem and how it is better than the competition. It's your unique selling point and will be the primary driver of why customers choose your company over another.

It's important to understand that your value proposition needs more than "we have a great product or service." It should clearly explain what problem you solve and why it's better than other solutions. It should also be tailored to the specific market segment or industry that you're targeting.

B2B marketers should use the business's value proposition as the centerpiece when creating content and campaigns. A clear value proposition provides a focal point for much of the business strategy, alignment of resources, critical goals and objectives, incentives, training, and marketing direction. The value proposition will help identify your audience and what types of messaging will resonate. It will also provide clarity in developing an effective marketing strategy that drives results.

Are you Delivering Value to Your Customers?

Customer value is measured by most customers as the benefits derived from a company's product and services versus the actual cost or price. Customers often incorporate their entire experience when assessing value, including price, quality, customer service, technical support, ease of conducting business, etc. It is essential to understand that customers also consider monetary, time, energy, and emotional costs and benefits when evaluating overall value.

 

A survey is the only way to assess whether your company delivers positive value to the customer base compared to the competition. Below (Figure 1) are two examples of customer value surveys. The first chart shows the company is behind the competition in providing customer value,  as all of the data points (competitive price perceived value and overall satisfaction) are behind the competition. In contrast, the second chart represents a company delivering more significant value than the competition. In this case, even though your company is commanding a higher price, the customers feel you deliver higher value and are more satisfied with you versus the competition. 

Indicates the Competition is Delivering More Value

Indicates Superior Value Delivered vs. Competition

Know what is Important to Customers

As indicated earlier, customers incorporate their entire experience when assessing value, including price, quality, customer service, technical support, ease of conducting business, etc. Therefore, it's crucial to understand all factors influencing customer satisfaction and perceived value. As a B2B marketer, it's essential to understand what makes customers choose one product or service over another. This could be related to pricing, convenience, reliability, or a combination of these factors.

Analyzing customer feedback can help you uncover valuable insights into what attributes of the customer's entire experience are most important in their assessment of value or satisfaction. By understanding which specific attributes drive value, B2B marketers can better align marketing strategy and increase the likelihood of generating growth. 

The chart below (Figure 2) analyzes the most important attributes driving customer value. The graph's tallest bars represent the attributes with the highest correlation to overall customer value. Based on customer survey data, the areas of problem resolution and customer service are the primary drivers of value. 

Figure 2

Attribute Importance to Value

With this knowledge, companies can focus more on areas of the customer interface that create value, optimizing efforts that matter most to customers.

Performance vs. Competition in Areas of Importance

To succeed and be effective in B2B marketing, you must understand how you stack up against the competition. This means looking at your performance against the competition in critical areas that create customer value. For example, using analysis from the previous chart, are you ahead or behind competitors in problem resolution and customer service? The following diagram (Figure 3) analyzes the company's competitive position by attribute. Based on the data, the company is slightly ahead of the competition in problem resolution and behind competitors in some activities associated with customer service.

Figure 3

Performance vs. Competition

By understanding your performance vs. the competition in areas of importance, you can gain a clear picture of where you stand in delivering superior value. This can help you create strategies for improving your performance and staying ahead of the competition.

What are the drivers of customer loyalty?

 

The same concept for delivering customer value also pertains to building customer loyalty, certain factors drive loyalty, and similar to value, these can be identified. The drivers of loyalty can be identified using the Net Promoters Score (NPS) as a measure of customer loyalty and correlating attribute performance ratings to the overall NPS score. In most cases, the top 4 drivers are the only ones companies should focus their improvement efforts. Figure 4 shows the leading drivers of customer loyalty for the company profiles in the previous examples. The chart shows that workmanship, sales representative product knowledge, associates' product knowledge, and product presentation are the most critical drivers of customer loyalty.

Figure 4

Drivers of Customer Loyalty

By addressing these critical drivers of customer loyalty, businesses can better foster relationships with their customers, retain their loyalty over time, and grow their share of customer.

Focus on Improvement and Measuring Success

Once you have identified and prioritized improvement areas using the research outlined above, create a marketing plan aligning resources and processes to deliver in these areas. Focus on making small changes that will significantly impact delivered value and loyalty. Analyze data and track progress regularly to ensure that improvements are taking place. Make sure that each task is given the time and attention it deserves. And don't forget to get feedback from customers on a regular basis, as this can provide invaluable insights into your progress.

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