Business-to-business advertising is marketing efforts directed toward other businesses rather than to individual consumers. Business-to-business advertising, or B2B advertising, may involve the promotion of products such as copier machines, or services such as human resources consulting or logistics, that are primarily designed for businesses.

Breaking Down Business-to-Business Advertising

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 who is in charge of purchasing. 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.

Some examples of 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.


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 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.


Before committing to a venue, an advertiser must know their 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 their message and value proposition online via a website and also social media. 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.