July 28, 2021

The B2B Basics: What Is It, and How Can We Do It Better?

by Melissa Caffrey

Despite what you may have heard, B2B does not stand for “boring-to-business.” It stands for business-to-business—the business model where companies sell products and/or services to other companies to help them grow.

It’s an exciting place to be, especially considering that B2B businesses provide the behind-the-scenes operations to make the world go round, but B2B still has a dry reputation compared to the B2C (business-to-consumer) world.

Where B2C companies appeal to consumers en masse with punchy, go-to-market messaging, B2B branding is often associated with stuffy, professional jargon focused solely on business stats and ROI. It’s an unfair misconception, especially because B2B world is filled with standout B2B brands that are doing great things in a big way.

And we’re not biased—we’ve recorded more than 250 remarkable B2B stories on Renegade Thinkers Unite and meet monthly with B2B CMOs who are dedicated to building powerful, purpose-driven brands.

The B2B landscape is growing more and more exciting. Below, find a brief overview of what exactly a B2B business is, and how B2B brands are successfully standing out today.

What is a B2B Business?

As already stated, B2B businesses provide products and/or services to other companies. At their most basic level, these services allow B2B customers to maintain operations. Going deeper, a B2B brand will enable its customers to not just function, but to flourish, growing the business by providing solutions to big business challenges and utilizing customer relations solutions like MLM Customer Relationship Management Software. For further tips on how to manage and grow a B2B business, why not try these out.

Here are two common types of B2B businesses with real world examples of each:

  • Product-based B2B businesses sell raw material to other companies as part of the supply chain, like:
    • Big Ass Fans, a fan company that sells industrial fans to HVAC distributors
    • Case Paper, a paper company that sells paperboard to a commercial printer
  • Software-based B2B businesses sell cloud-based software solutions to help businesses, like:
    • Salesforce, a software company that provides customer relationship management (CRM) solutions
    • Momentive, an AI-powered platform that provides survey software products
    • HUMAN, a cybersecurity brand that protects against bot attacks

What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?

The B2B buying journey is much more complicated than in B2C. B2C businesses are trying to convince a consumer to buy their product, where B2B businesses are selling to business groups made up of multiple stakeholders with differing priorities. With far more decision makers and higher stakes, the B2B buying process takes a lot longer and is much harder to measure and track.

This has become even more true post-pandemic. In a recent interview, CMO Shirley Macbeth of Forrester reported that, in the last year, the number of interactions in the B2B selling cycle has risen 17 to 27. On top of that hurdle, CFOs are understandably more discerning about where to spend limited budgets—often putting on their CF-“No” hat whenever a service isn’t deemed essential.

B2B Business Development – Be Compelling

Given the challenges of B2B and the nature of B2B products and services, it can be tempting for B2B brands to focus on technical specs. After all, in a rapidly evolving digital space, many B2B brands are crucial to the success of many businesses. While speeds and feeds may be valuable from a metrics standpoint, it doesn’t consider the fact that the B2B marketplace is competitive; brands can’t rely solely on numbers to stand out from the crowd.

If anything, it’s high time for B2B businesses to demonstrate the human value of their brand, the true, higher purpose behind why they exist. Gone are the days of cold calling and spray-and-pray marketing—purpose-driven business development is here to stay.

Bold, creative B2B branding should set the foundation for B2B business development. Keep in mind that any branding worth its salt has a unique twist to it. B2B brands shouldn’t limit themselves when sharing the fascinating, human stories behind what they do and the heart of why they exist. And while aesthetics play an important role in branding, these need to be backed up by values-driven strategy across the organization.

Done right, B2B brands can grow brand love and loyalty, which will in turn attract great talent, reach more prospects, and retain more customers. This, coupled with a great SEO game, canonical tags, a strong social and digital presence, and an innovative, customer-centric strategy will be crucial for B2B brands as they work to simplify the buying process for their customers.