B2B Marketing is still an evolving specialty. Traditionally, people that aspire to a career in marketing mostly choose the much larger B2C space, working for the likes of P&G and PepsiCo. Marketing to businesses certainly is a different process and customer dynamic than marketing to consumers. But fundamentally, all B2B buyers are also consumers. B2B marketing can learn much from their more mature B2C brethren.
In most B2C product marketing, the key driver is Customer Experience (CX). Marketers do extensive research to gain deep knowledge of consumer preferences and behaviors. Then new products and product line extensions are developed based on these research findings.
On the other hand, B2B product marketers often have small or non-existent research budgets and end up designing products and services based on limited information, like anecdotal contacts with customers and trade show attendees.
Business product marketers must develop strong ties to their company’s Sales and Sales Training departments and staff. Salespeople are on the front lines of customer interaction at the moment of purchase. They know exactly what customers want, what they don’t like and how they perceive value. Sales trainers can tell marketers which are the products and policies that reps struggle with; where problems occur in the post-sale fulfillment process; and why reps are selling some products/services and not others.
Marketers should ride on sales calls with reps, attend training classes and experience these interactions first hand. They should also ride on service calls and sit with new customer on-boarding staff, CSRs and tech support personnel, listening and observing to live customer interactions.
The goal is to build a complete understanding of the customer experience over the life of the relationship. Equipped with this data, B2B product marketers can build products and services that delight customers, are understood by the company’s employees and create strong long-term relationships.