B2B Marketing: Definition and Strategies

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what B2B marketing is and the strategies you need to be successful. Explore marketing methods that can help you promote your product or service.

[Featured image] Two men shake hands at a business meeting about b2b marketing.

Business-to-business marketing, or B2B marketing, refers to a business promoting products and services to other companies to help them improve their operations. Learn more about B2B marketing and the strategies to help you become successful.

What is B2B marketing?

When selling to other companies, B2B marketing involves considerations and best practices that differ from those associated with marketing to individual consumers (B2C). For example, B2B customers generally look for products and services that contribute to a healthier bottom line while avoiding investments with low chances of return. Considering that businesses may be responsible for payroll and other large business expenses, there may be more at stake for B2B than B2C customers, so when marketing, you’d want to bear this difference in mind. 

Explore other differences in the chart below:

What it isMarketing to the decision makers at organisationsMarketing to individual consumers
Product examplesSoftware, office equipment, and supplies, co-working spacesFood, clothing, electronic devices, books, media subscriptions
Service examplesConsulting and training, web or graphic design, product distribution, ad campaign managementTutoring, hair styling, health care, home cleaning, car repair
Buying motivesLogic: What’s the financial ROI of an investment? What’s the expertise level of a service provider?Emotions: Will this product solve a problem or fulfil a desire?
Sales cycleLonger sales cycle as decision-makers consider the return on investmentShorter sales cycle, especially for impulse purchases
Market research focusFirmographics of businesses and psychographics of decision-makersDemographics and psychographics of individual consumers

5 common B2B channel marketing strategies

In this section, you’ll discover common B2B marketing channels, both digital and offline, as well as best practices for promoting your business on these channels so that you can plan your next steps.

B2B content marketing

Content marketing, particularly search engine optimisation (SEO) content on your website, is an effective way to reach B2B audiences. Focused content can build trust with decision-makers, increase your website’s ranking in search engine results, and serve as the basis for marketing efforts on other channels. 

Here are different types of content that work well for a B2B audience:

  • Thought leadership and educational content on important industry trends and strategies your target B2B customers can use.

  • Videos explaining how your products and services can help B2B customers.

  • Webpages explaining your company’s method of prioritising diversity, equity, and inclusion and what these efforts mean for your target B2B customer.

Read more: What Is Content Marketing?

B2B social media marketing

To attract B2B customers on social media, adopt practices that are specific to a business-oriented audience, including the following:

  • Leverage the power of videos for product demonstrations, tutorials, industry highlights, behind-the-scenes content, case studies, “about us” stories, and business-building strategies.

  • Tailor your posts to each platform. For example, you could repurpose long-form content into a Tweet-able tip, an Instagram infographic, and a LinkedIn excerpt.

  • Set up in-platform purchase and subscription options on social media. Algorithms may promote this content to more viewers, as it doesn’t lead users away from the platform.

  • Partner with micro-influencers in your niche (users with around 15,000 followers) to gain access to their loyal, targeted followers. 

Fun fact: The power of influence

According to Civil Science, 14 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds (Gen Z) and 11 per cent of millennials bought something within a six-month period because of an influencer recommendation, despite low trust in influencers amongst the general population [1].

The mere exposure effect may play a role since people spend so much time scrolling through social media; seeing a product advertised seven times can create familiarity and trust in a brand.


Read more: Influencer Marketing: A Guide to Developing Your Strategy

B2B email marketing

Email marketing can be an effective way to build relationships with B2B customers and convert leads (also called potential customers or prospects) into buyers. 

  • To build your subscriber base, design a lead-capture landing page that addresses a problem or a need that is top-of-mind for your target B2B customers and promises a solution in the form of a lead magnet, such as a downloadable report or a free video tutorial.

  • Ensure your lead magnet provides the solution promised on the landing page and demonstrates how your company can help other businesses operate more smoothly.

  • Divide your subscribers into smaller segments based on their roles within a decision-making unit, the kind of business, where they are in the customer journey, and other factors so that you can tailor email marketing content accordingly.

  • Include attention-grabbing words in your email subject lines, such as solutions to a problem or product offers, to get B2B email subscribers to click.

  • Craft each email message to deliver value and guide subscribers to make a purchase. Emails can expound upon social media and content marketing pieces, offer exclusive information, invite subscribers to complete a survey, shape future content, and announce new products. 

B2B event marketing

Hosting, attending, and sponsoring events, in person or online, can increase your brand’s exposure and generate qualified leads. 

Successful B2B events can take on many forms, including:

  • Workshops, classes, and webinars on topics of interest to your target B2B customers

  • Networking events, exhibitions, and trade shows where you can build relationships with company decision-makers in your target market and introduce them to your products and services

  • Professional conferences where your target B2B customers can learn new information and network with peers

  • Parties, performances, dinners, and other social events to entertain target B2B customers and offer individualised or VIP experiences.

Word-of-mouth and referrals

Loyal and satisfied customers can be a great source of new leads, especially in B2B marketing.

When a business recommends your product or service and can also quantify a positive outcome, it comes with authority.

You might offer referral bonuses or set up an affiliate programme to encourage customers to make thoughtful referrals.  

Build your B2B marketing strategy

A B2B marketing strategy can impact your business as you reach new markets with your products and services. Follow the steps below to begin building your B2B marketing strategy.

Read more: Marketing Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

Determine your brand’s positioning 

Brand positioning is the combination of factors that differentiate your brand from competitors in the minds of your target customers. Clear brand positioning can make your B2B marketing efforts more effective.

  • How will your B2B products and services help businesses succeed better than competitors’ offerings?

  • What associations, ideas, feelings, and concepts will your brand create in customers’ minds?

  • What will they believe about your products and services?

  • What factors will inspire loyalty in your customers?

Use answers to the above questions to craft a brand positioning statement: [B2B audience] will choose [product/service] to experience [benefits and outcomes] because [B2B audience’s beliefs].

Describe your buyer personas

To create buyer personas for B2B marketing, gather firmographic data (how different organisations behave) on the kinds of businesses you want to target and psychographic data (how individuals behave) on decision-making units within these businesses using the prompts below to start.  

Firmographic data on businesses:

  • How would you describe the target businesses' industry, including key players, trends, opportunities, and untapped markets?

  • What kinds of products or services do your target businesses offer?

  • What types of consumers do they serve?

  • How many employees work at these businesses?

  • What’s the average annual revenue?

  • How are these organisations structured regarding leadership, departments, teams, and individual contributors?

Develop a brand voice

Your brand’s voice is essential to connecting with B2B customers, personalising their experience with your products and services, and inspiring their trust in your business solutions. The brand voice will shape how you craft every email, social media caption, video script, piece of long-form content, web copy, and more.

When conducting B2B market research, collect insights into the language company decision-makers use to describe their challenges and goals. Draw from customer language to develop a distinct, empathetic brand voice.  

Select your marketing channels

Whilst it’s a good practice to build a presence and create customer experiences on multiple channels, don’t feel pressured to be on every channel. Prioritise the channels where your target B2B customers will most likely engage with your content. Create a seamless omnichannel customer journey to increase loyalty and retention rates.  

Ensure you tell your full brand story on every channel so your target B2B customers fully understand your offerings, value proposition, what you stand for, and how to take action.

Read more: E-commerce Platforms: How They Compare + How to Choose One

Identify your B2B marketing tactics

Once you’ve selected your marketing channels, your next step is to identify the specific tactics you’ll use to reach your target B2B customers. Here are four examples of tactics to implement:

  • Offer a freemium service or trial period so that B2B customers can experience the impact of your offerings on their business operations.

  • Take an account-based marketing approach by networking with contacts at key business targets, building rapport with them, personalising communications, and encouraging sales.

  • Use cause-based marketing to design products and campaigns collaborating with charitable organisations and show your business's commitment to creating a better world.

  • Create a more impactful and detailed customer journey, based on a longer sales cycle. You can deliver content that supports buying decisions and emphasises your products' outcomes and benefits.

Improve your marketing with Coursera

Online courses can be a great way to build marketing skills and reach your target B2B customers more effectively. The Google Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Professional Certificate teaches digital marketing fundamentals for channels, including search, email, e-commerce sites, and more. Enrol today!

Article sources

  1. Civil Science. “Trust in Influencers Isn’t High, but Gen Z Is Still Buying Their Products, https://civicscience.com/trust-in-influencers-isnt-high-but-gen-z-is-still-buying-their-products/.” Accessed June 7, 2023.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.