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Business to Business Marketing: Home

For class assignments requiring company, industry, and market share information.

B-to-B is Different

As consumers, most of us are familiar with what product features we value, what advertising and promotion we pay attention to, and how we make decisions about what to buy.

But marketing and selling to a business requires one to view things from that business's perspective. In a brick and mortar store, shelf space is precious and inventory should be kept as low as possible to avoid tax penalties. In an Internet-based business, website real estate or page position is limited.

So what are your selling points? Anything that will help them make a profit. Anything that will bring them to repeat customers or increase the volume of store traffic. Anything that will help them cut costs without sacrificing quality.

When thinking about the benefits that could influence a business to buy from you rather than from a different vendor, here's a list of some things to consider:

  • Superior product quality
  • Safety or comfort or style
  • Your company's reputation and list of long-time customers
  • Exceptional brand recognition
  • Frequent  updates in the look and feel of the physical product or the product's technological functions
  • Eye-catching packaging
  • Warrantees
  • Your product(s) fill a gap in their product line (e.g. They sell computer accessories but not hand-held voice recorders compatible with a desktop computer)
  • Exclusivity (you will not let other area businesses sell your product)

Here are some additional  benefits that you might offer:

  • Price concessions on large orders
  • Waiving re-stocking fees
  • Quick re-stocking
  • Returns of unsold merchandise
  • Live customer support for the consumers they sell to
  • Mail-in discounts for their customers
  • Cooperative advertising (you will share the cost of their advertising)
  • In-store demonstrations or other promotional events you will provide to them
  • Assistance in designing materials for contests, videos, or other promotional pieces
  • Training for their salesforce
  • Website templates

Who are the customers?

Identifying the retail consumer 

In many cases, your prospect company (the business you are marketing to) sells to ordinary people. 

So target market information (customer behavior/attitudes) pertinent to Sephora or Nike or some other company as well as details relating to an industry subsector that targets consumers can be found in resources such as the Mintel Academic database.

Describing the business consumer 

But some businesses sell to other businesses. For example, a company selling cement mixers probably will sell to landscaping companies, zoos, rent-to-own businesses, and construction companies instead of to DIY enthusiasts.

In such a case, you may not find a published source defining their target customers.  But you can create such a description in terms of characteristics gleaned from company reports in library databases and/or company websites. Here are are some examples:

Geography State whether your product is more popular in the South or the North or a specific state or region or whether it will have a global customer base. 

Business size If you do not sell primarily to industry leaders, state the size of target companies in terms of their annual sales or some other measure of their size. Some businesses with smaller staffs might have a greater need for help with online security or some type of customer support.

Type of Business  Specify whether a certain industry or specific type of business needs your product.   If you're currently selling supplies and equipment to gasoline stations, you might want to diversify into the hybrid or electric auto charging stations or the hydrogen car refueling market sector.

Public or private sector: If you are a waste management company,  will you sell your services to city and county governments or mostly to residential landlords?


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