The Difference Between A Tire Shop And Your B2B Business
When thinking about digital advertising, it's easy to condense it down to a single dimension: direct response. By taking advantage of targeting and positioning, you find a person who wants to buy a thing and you sell it to them directly. But this mindset is only really effective for a B2C business with an easily marketable product, which only needs to win the customer's Google search. The entire dynamic changes as soon as you begin to consider B2B businesses, and that means your marketing approach needs to change as well.
Consider a tire shop. Everyone knows the basics when it comes to tires, so it's hard to imagine going to different tire shops and not purchasing very similar products. No one calls to ask “What’s a tire?” or needs to be convinced that what they're looking for is a tire. A digital strategy for this business follows a similar route: the goal is to get in front of the customer first and convince them you have the best version of what they are looking for. Since everyone is already educated on your product offering, a good Search Engine Marketing (SEM) push is able to immediately produce results. If person X sees the tire shop ad, clicks it, and schedules an appointment, knowing where the appointment came from is easy. When Return On Ad Spend is that quantiﬁable, it's easy to make decisions about continuing with a marketing tool or not.
But this shifts substantially when thinking about a B2B business, especially within specialized niches. The online conversation changes. It not just choosing between shops, it's about ﬁnding out why you even need the product in the first place. In this online conversation there has to be an extended conversation where both parties to deliver value. SEM, Content Marketing, Prospecting, Remarketing, Digital Video, Social Media, and SEO all have to work in unison to ultimately sell the customer and differentiate your brand from the competition. While certain people might know exactly what they want out of a B2B business, they make up the exception, not the rule.
The Digital Strategy for a B2B business then revolves around an ongoing discussion, not just a one-and-done interaction. SEM becomes a touch-point in the ongoing conversation, and while that conversation starter might be valuable, it won't have an immediately identifiable ROI or product directly correlated results. It has to be an omni-channel approach that talks to your audience across their digital spaces, otherwise you risk the conversation dying.
Original idea by Tj Kaszas