What Is Business-to-Business Advertising?

Business-to-business advertising refers to any marketing efforts directed toward other businesses rather than to individual consumers. Business-to-business advertising, or B2B advertising, takes place between companies that are typically found in the middle of the supply chain for any product or service that does not reach the average consumer. B2B advertising may involve the promotion of products such as day-to-day office supplies, specific parts used in another company's product, or services such as human resources consulting or logistics that are primarily designed for businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • Business-to-business advertising refers to any marketing efforts directed toward other businesses rather than to the end consumer.
  • B2B marketing aims to reach the employees of a business responsible for making capital or purchasing decisions.
  • Just like a business-to-consumer advertising strategy, effective B2C campaigns involve knowing the correct audience, crafting messaging, and building a strong digital and SEO strategy.

How Business-to-Business Advertising Works

While business-to-consumer (B2C) advertising focuses on reaching a household's decision-maker, business-to-business advertising focuses on reaching the employees of a business responsible for making capital decisions, or the individual who is in charge of purchases. While consumers may be able to make rapid decisions on whether a product is of interest, businesses are often slower and have to go through a more complicated process because the cost of products for a business can be high and may require approval from several levels of management.

For example, when Apple announced its transition to using Intel processors in its Macbook computers, this counted as a business-to-business transaction, since Apple purchased the processors from Intel, rather than an end consumer such as you or I. Since Intel does not target the end consumer, any advertising it does is considered B2B advertising to other computer or electronics companies to purchase its niche technology.

Other business-to-business advertising targets include institutions, such as schools and hospitals, government and government agencies, and companies that utilize various products and materials in their operations, such as manufacturers.

Venues

Because B2B advertising differs so much from B2C advertising, companies will need to pay closer attention to the media choices they have, as suitable venues may be harder to come by. For example, will local newspapers reach enough decision-makers or could a trade publication offer better returns? Will digital or mobile advertising work better than print? Could expensive radio or television advertising be worth the investment? Knowing the customer will help guide advertising spending decisions. For example, according to The Washington Post, nearly two-thirds of U.S. small business owners are older white men, which may explain why national sports media outlets, such as satellite radio, frequently feature services for small businesses.

Messaging

Before committing to a venue, a B2B advertiser must know his or her target market and audience to formulate a message. This can be achieved with research and surveys that are either purchased or self-performed. A message should also be tested to see if it appeals to the target market. With such information, an advertiser can formulate a strategy that features a primary goal, such as increasing business leads, conversions, or overall traffic. Any message should convey a company's values, its product's best features, and the company's value proposition, such as whether the business and its products or services will help customers save time and/or money.

The Digital Space

An advertiser should be able to translate his or her message and value proposition online through the company's owned digital marketing channels, such as their website and social media platforms. Customers must be able to find a B2B company online at a website that displays the company's brand story. An advertiser must also have a content strategy that seeks to serve incumbent and potential customers with expertise and solutions. It should utilize articles, videos, testimonials, and more content types built around a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that seeks to answer questions customers may have. Advertisers should also utilize their websites and social media presence to engage with customers.