Opinion: Marketing Society - Let's begin B2B dialogue

Looking back at this column over the past 18 months, it struck me that no one has written about B2B marketing and the issues facing the sector. I think there is a perception that it is the poor relation of B2C marketing and therefore less sexy, thus attracting lower budgets. On the other hand, the complex world of consumers would appear to be more deserving of space and perhaps this contributes to a sense that B2B marketers are less talented.

Of course, there are real differences between the roles of B2B and B2C marketers. Many of the former have less direct control of the brand than their B2C peers. Also, B2B marketers often have a broader range of marketing and communications responsibilities, which suggests that they are jacks of all trades and masters of none.

Yet the reality is that 35% of all global adspend is either corporate or B2B. The marketing budgets set aside by the global banks for B2B run into billions of dollars. Admittedly, much of this is spent on high-end corporate sponsorships, branding and client schmoozing, as well as all the usual marketing tools, but a serious attempt to develop techniques that address the issues of B2B is essential.

All brands are B2B to some degree and can be viewed on three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary B2B brands sell their products and services to businesses direct, such as investment banks, law firms and big software houses. Secondary B2B brands sell to consumers through other businesses; for example, selling Ariel in Tesco.

If you are an FMCG marketer, there will be some inter-action between your consumer brand and corporate brand to create your B2B proposition. Understanding and manipulating this can gain marketers a competitive advantage. Finally, tertiary B2B brands are sold or co-created with partners - selling Michelin tyres with Ford cars, for example.

Getting to the heart of B2B marketing is important for businesses. Many ad agencies and consultancies claim to understand it, but it is rare to find true insight into things such as managing group purchasing, five-year sales cycles or client entertaining on-brand. Even the literature shows a paucity of good B2B thinking.

My challenge to my colleagues in B2B marketing - and the wider marketing industry - is to instigate a more proactive, thoughtful dialogue about B2B issues. We need to share our experiences, successes and mistakes for the betterment of our profession. It will help my business and career, and I'm sure it will help yours.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers