While getting online with a thoughtful, intentional web presence is a vital step in success in B2B commerce, it’s only the beginning. Just having a great website and some social media profiles is not enough. With so many diamond dealers, gem dealers, and jewelry manufacturers offering their services, it can be a struggle to be seen. This is where the work of developing and implementing a marketing strategy comes in. In order to reach clients, you have to know what kind of client you are hoping to attract and how that client makes a decision.
A business in B2C commerce can’t possibly appeal to every single customer, so they have to carve out a niche for themselves, create an identity. That identity has to exist at the intersection of what the business is interested in doing and what the customer wants. Knowing what the customer wants means knowing who the customer is. So they create a profile of an ideal customer profile.
In order to reach customers, retailers think about what kind of customer they are trying to attract. They think in terms of age, gender marital status, income, type of employment, interests, location, and other demographic and biographic information so that they can create a marketing plan with this type of customer in mind. A scattershot approach that tries to pull in everyone will result in a confused message and unclear branding that won’t appeal to anyone, so they focus their efforts through an ideal customer profile.
But rather than collect demographic information to create a hypothetical individual, a B2B supplier should think about the type of company they want to attract: How many people do they employ? What is their average annual revenue? Which industries do they work in? How long have they been in business? Where are they located? Do they sell primarily online or in-store? Some demographic information will be useful, as well, but its application is slightly different in B2B marketing. For example, Millennials and Gen Z are making up a larger and larger portion of the workforce. If the people making purchasing decisions belong to these generations, your best bet is to use social advertising and create appealing social media profiles.
Once you have an idea of the type of buyer you want to attract, it’s time to set out on the Buyer’s Journey. The Buyer’s Journey follows the buyer from their realization of a need to the fulfillment of that need, and beyond. It consists of five steps: Awareness, Consideration, Intent, Purchase, and Retention. B2C retailers follow their ideal customer on this journey to determine how best to reach and retain that customer. B2B suppliers must think in the same way if they are to stand out in a crowded field.
While B2C businesses have fully embraced digital marketing strategies, many B2B suppliers still tend to rely on traditional methods. But research shows that 93% of B2B buyers prefer to purchase online, and 70% prefer remote or digital interactions with suppliers. Those numbers shouldn’t be too surprising. When most people have a problem or a question, they turn to Google for the answer. Businesses looking for suppliers are no different. So if that’s where your customers are, that’s where you need to be to reach them.
If you understand who your ideal customer is and the difficulties they face, you can create web content that helps them solve those problems. You’ll be able to create a clear brand identity around the things you do well, and that will go further in convincing the retailers who find you that you’re the supplier for them.
Some business owners, especially in the B2B sector, might be reluctant to go all-in on an identity. When you identify yourself as something, you are also identifying yourself as not-something-else. There is the potential there to turn off customers and lose business. But if you have no identity, you aren’t giving anyone a reason to buy from you. There are thousands of retailers out there of every size. They work with larger or smaller inventories, they bring in larger or smaller revenues, they have differing levels of ambition, employ different numbers of people, and have different values, beliefs, and desires. Bland or vague branding isn’t a way to appeal to all of them; it is a way to make sure that none of them take note of what you can offer.
Sure, you might turn some people off with branding that is strong, clear, and most importantly, authentic to you and your business, but you will convince those businesses that can clearly see that your business can help solve their problems. No one can attract every customer, and a lack of identity won’t attract anyone. A brand identity that aligns with that of your ideal customer will help you carve out a niche in a world of overwhelming options.
If you’re looking for a date on a dating app, how would you go about it? Would making yourself appear as bland and inoffensive as possible actually succeed in attracting anyone? And if it did, would it attract the kind of person who you could have a fulfilling relationship with? Perhaps a better strategy would be to be true to yourself and put the best version of yourself out there so you can attract someone whose beliefs, interests, and personality traits complement yours. Marketing is no different.
When it comes to attracting business in a B2B environment, getting noticed is just the beginning. Once you have a retailer’s eyes on you, the work begins to convince them that you are the supplier for them. What is your brand identity, who is your ideal customer, and how are you demonstrating to them that you can solve their problems?