Business-to-business marketing is the marketing of goods and services to businesses in order to keep those companies operating. Business-to-business marketing is therefore about meeting the needs of other businesses, though finally the demand for the products made by these businesses is likely to be determined by consumers in their homes. The most common business-to-business markets are manufacturers, resellers, the government and non-profit institutions. Most businesses that fall into these categories do make some money off of a consumer base; however, the majority of their capital is made off of other businesses.
Business-to-business is also used in the context of communication and collaboration. Many businesses are now using social media to connect with their consumers (B2C); however, they are now using similar tools within the business so employees can connect with one another. When communication is taking place amongst employees, this can be referred to as “B2B” communication. An important distinguishing feature of business-to-business markets is the importance of the personal relationship. A small customer base that buys regularly from the business-to-business supplier is relatively easy to talk to. Sales and technical representatives visit the customers. People are on first-name terms. Personal relationships and trust develop. It is not unusual for a business-to-business supplier to have customers that have been loyal and committed for many years.
The biggest differences between business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing are the types of goods and services being marketed and the types of entities the goods and services are being marketed to. Business-to-business marketers promote goods and services that will help other companies run. Some of the things businesses produce for other businesses include equipment, components, raw materials, processing services and supplies. Also, the goals of businesses and consumers are often the same. When choosing a company for goods and services, most consumers and businesses will make a decision based upon price, quality, delivery time and their history with the business. Other considerations might be the availability of the product or service and the quality of customer service if something goes wrong.
Business-to-business marketing is currently one of the fastest-growing areas of marketing. As technology brings more businesses together, companies are beginning to court each other far more insistently. And as technology makes the world a smaller place, it becomes more important for marketing and sales professionals to understand and implement the principles of business-to-business marketing.