s the name suggests, Business to Business (B2B) marketing refers to selling goods or products directly to businesses. This marketing is more targeted, focussed and result oriented. Very often, people compare B2B marketing with B2C marketing. While both appear to be similar on the face of it, there is one characteristic that differs in both these marketing techniques.
A B2B marketing strategy focuses on the needs, interests and challenges of making purchases on behalf of their organisations. Thus, the organisation or company becomes the customer. In contrast, a B2C strategy focuses on the needs, interests and challenges of the individual. So, here the individual becomes the customer.
Most B2B marketing experts believe that there are three stages to B2B marketing. It starts with the awareness from the customer that he needs to make a purchase. The next stage is researching, when the customer looks into the best options available, and the final stage is where the customer shortlists choices and wants to make a decision.
So, how do B2B customers make their choice? Some of the factors that influence their decision making are: return on investment (ROI) if the product meets long term needs, after-sales and service and longevity of the product. Hence, B2B marketing is very specific and target-oriented.
Common methods of B2B marketing
B2B enterprises have to connect to decision-makers in various organisations. Connecting with them one at a time is often a time-consuming task. Hence, these enterprises organise larger events where they can meet and network with many clients at the same time. Since many decision-makers are available at the same place at the same time, these events help in fast-tracking sales as well.
Commonly, B2B enterprises adopt three ways to market their events. Namely live events, virtual events and hybrid events. Let us look at each of these in detail and understand their pros and cons.
Live B2B events
A live B2B event can be hosted in many different formats. Popular among them are exhibitions, trade shows, conferences, and roadshows. Surveys published in 2019 said that 95% of B2B enterprises preferred live events over any other kind of event.
So, why are live events so popular? Let us look at some of the reasons:
- It helps establish a personal connection with the customer.
- It helps build trust with the customer.
- It improves lead generation.
- It improves the conversion rate.
- It helps build brand awareness.
When it comes to the cons, they include
- More expensive for both organisers and attendees
- Less reach with limited customers
Despite these cons, live events ruled the roost.
Virtual B2B events
Last year, the pandemic affected the entire world. Needless to say, live events took a backseat, and virtual events came to the forefront. Some of the common virtual event formats are webinars, online conferences, online tradeshow/expo/fair. Among these, the webinar format was extremely popular.
Let us briefly understand the pros and cons of virtual event formats for B2B marketing.
- Global reach
- Easy to track engagement of the customer
- Customers can access the content even at a later time.
- High dependence on technology for good customer experience
- Lesser opportunities for networking
- The audience tends to get distracted easily while using a virtual medium. Hence the event has to be of shorter duration.
While 2020 saw the shift, both organisers and attendees were sceptical about virtual B2B events. But over time, organisers learnt how to make the most of event hosting platforms and how they could tailor content for the virtual audience. That gave birth to some outstanding and memorable virtual events, which left the audience asking for more.
Hybrid B2B events
The later part of 2020 saw yet another change in event hosting. It saw the dawn of hybrid events. While virtual events worked for most customers, many still wanted the feel of a physical event.
Keeping in mind the needs of such customers and making the most of the current situation, hybrid events evolved. These events are a combination of both live and virtual events. Thus attendees can choose a mode at their convenience. The section below details the advantages of hybrid events and why B2B enterprises should choose this format.
Which event style should B2B enterprises choose
So, what event marketing style should B2B enterprises choose in 2021? Our vote goes to hybrid events for the reasons mentioned below:
- Marketers can reach out to both in-person and virtual clients at the same time.
- They can engage better with the audience.
- Due to the use of technology, data collection and analysis is enhanced.
- Better return on investment
- Audiences can access content on demand.
- Conversion of leads faster with the in-person audience
- Currently, a hybrid event is unique and gives attendees an uncommon experience
On the flip side, organisers need to create some exclusive content for their online and offline attendees. That can prove to be cumbersome. But, the benefits of these events in terms of revenue generation is much more. Hence, we recommend that B2B enterprises have hybrid events as an integral part of their marketing plan.
An ideal hybrid event is one that people sign up to attend and not sign up to watch later.
A B2B business thrives only when one can connect, build trust and create an impact. It is proven that both live and virtual events can do this at different levels. Hybrid events bring the best of both event formats, helping B2B enterprises connect with the customers and make the desired impact. So, don’t get left out. Be a part of the new event revolution and adopt B2B hybrid events as part of your marketing strategy.