This blog was originally posted on the 11th of September 2015 and has been updated for 2023, incorporating practice questions to ask yourself with regard to the B2B marketing mix, and an 8th P to consider!
The term “Marketing Mix” is synonymous with “the four Ps”:
However, what many people don’t realise is that the business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing mix and the business-to-business (B2B) marketing mix are not one and the same. The primary difference is the addition of three more elements for B2B marketers to worry about:
- Physical Evidence
These seven elements represent the key components of a product’s marketing strategy and are crucial to the approval and assimilation of a new product by prospective clients.It is essential, that B2B Marketers tailor their seven Ps for their offering in a way that targets their business clients. B2B and B2C marketers are not created equal and should not adopt the same tactics in their marketing mix, even in the elements which overlap, B2B and B2C marketers will have very different priorities.
The 4Ps Vs the 7Ps in the B2B Marketing Mix
The original 4Ps marketing mix was developed when businesses primarily focused on selling products rather than services. At that time, the concept emphasised product marketing and overlooked the importance of customer service in brand development.
In time, the framework was expanded by Booms and Bitner with the introduction of three additional elements called the ‘service mix P’s’: Participants or People, Physical evidence, and Processes. Eventually, ‘Participants’ was renamed ‘People,’ encompassing marketers, customer service representatives, recruitment, culture, training, and compensation.
The 7Ps model enables companies to assess and define critical factors that impact the marketing of their products and services. Widely used in marketing, the marketing mix is also referred to as the 7Ps framework for digital marketing.
The Seven Ps of the B2B Marketing Mix
When it comes to creating and marketing a product/service that is of value to your clients, your company must consider two main points:
Appearance/presentation of your product/service:
Think about the packaging and how the product itself looks.
Function of the product:
The product must cater to all the client’s needs.
In the realm of B2B, function tends to be far more important than appearance.Organisations will not invest in a product or service that does not meet their requirements. Consumers, on the other hand tend to be more flexible and appearance-focused. Individuals can be swayed by product design and add-ons in a way that the decision makers in organisations will not be. This is because organisational buyers are not making a personal decision, but rather following a checklist of needs to suit all of the company needs.
Ask yourself: How can we develop products or services to add more value to customers?
Business buyers are far more focused on price and value than consumer buyers, as it directly affects their profitability. “Trends” and “style” hold much less importance in the business buying landscape.When selling to organisations it is pivotal that marketers have a clearly structured pricing plan that is easy to communicate and understand so that decision makers for the business are not deterred and can easily pass on the information to those in the C-suit of the company for approval.
Ask yourself: How can we change our pricing model to benefit our clients?
This refers to the method of communication used to promote a product.This can vary greatly between B2B and B2C, as individual consumers tend to seek out information differently than business buyers. Some excellent communication channels for those in the B2B field include:
Strategically placed in locations where you prospects have access to them, these types of materials can house a huge amount of detailed information as well as provide a physical, tangible good for prospects to take away with them that has your contact information.
Email marketing is a hugely important tool for B2B Marketers. When done well this can provide an easy, cheap avenue to communicate with clients and prospects in a way that is measurable in terms of your conversions and return on investment.
Trade shows/networking events
Trade shows give businesses the power to invite all potential and existing clients on a common platform and demonstrate their products and services.
Trade shows and events are viewed as the most effective offline distribution channel by 84% of B2B marketers [Regalix, 2015]
Ask yourself: How can we optimise our combination of paid, owned and earned media channels to better communicate with clients?
Regardless of your client type, it is always essential to provide the right product, at the right place and at the optimal time. Marketing your product in a location where you client is not present is a waste of time and money. Focus your marketing strategy on targeting your clients in the optimal buying environment.Place is not necessarily just a physical location though. Your “place” can be determined by the industry you serve. For instance a pharmaceutical company that sells direct to hospitals works within the space of medical equipment and services, this medical industry segment is therefore a type of non-physical space in which they must develop a presence.
Ask yourself: Are there new distribution options we should consider for customers to experience our product / services, such as online, on mobile etc?
When it comes to selling a consumer good marketers don’t generally need to concern themselves with sales people. A homogenous product, such as a can of Coca Cola, doesn’t need a sales person to convince the buyer that it is the best can of Coke for them. Every Coca Cola is created equal so there is no added benefit of getting a skilled salesman to persuade prospects that this particular Coca Cola is fresher or better somehow than any other.B2B marketers, however, need to provide evidence as to why their offering is the perfect fit. They do not have the luxury of selling a one-size-fits-all product, this means that salespeople are essential for building trust and motivating prospects to buy.
Ask yourself: What are the strengths of our people and are there any skills gaps?
With the added “people” element in the B2B marketing mix, the buying process becomes a key selling point of your offering. Your process can demonstrate your expertise and be a key element of the value proposition.Given that B2B marketers often offer solutions to their clients that are not standardised, this makes the process of delivering this solution becomes vitally important, as it differentiates you from your competition.
Ask yourself: Are there any internal process barriers that are making it more difficult to deliver value to customers?
The B2B marketing mix places a great deal of emphasis on actively building trust in your audience. This is done through a variety of tangible and intangible means, for instance;
- Your office set-up is a huge factor in how clients and prospects perceive you. B2B selling often involves in-person meetings to gain trust (something which is becoming less and less prevalent in the B2C realm with the rise of ecommerce). It is therefore of high importance to present yourself in a manner fitting to your offering, whether that is as a distinguished, high-end, professional or a relatable, small-business for the everyday man, this can be a selling point for prospective clients.
- Given the variation in offerings for B2B marketers – especially when offering a tailored service such as consultancy, personalised web and office solutions and so on – testimonials and reviews are vital in building confidence in buyers. When consumers buy a Coca Cola they are completing a very low-risk transaction and thus trust building is not an essential component of the sale. Business-level transactions, however, are often high-risk, high-involvement purchases that require trust and confidence before closing the deal.
Ask yourself: What are the best ways to reassure and build trust with clients both on and offline?
Partners [added for 2023]
Partners play a vital role in B2B marketing as they provide the potential for expanded reach and access to a broader customer base while enhancing credibility and perceived value. Additionally, partnerships often involve businesses with complementary skills, expertise, or offerings. By joining forces, each partner can provide a more comprehensive and integrated solution to their respective customers. This synergy allows for a stronger value proposition, as the combined capabilities of the partners address a wider range of customer needs.
Building partnerships requires building relationships. Invest time in nurturing relationships with potential partners that align with your business objectives. Establishing trust and rapport through regular communication, attending industry events together, sharing industry insights, and exploring common areas of interest lays the foundation for a strong and collaborative B2B partnership.
Ask yourself: What businesses could we work with that would add value to our business and the overall customer experience?
As a general rule, B2B selling needs to be clearer and more concise than B2C selling because there are more stages and influencers/decision makers in the buying process. B2C marketers have the luxury of only needing to entice and convince the individual, making a decision that likely only affects them, whereas B2B marketers must persuade a company of people with specific needs and decision makers.
With the rise of inbound marketing in recent years power has shifted to the consumer. Buyers now hold the collective power to influence what offering businesses supply in their products. As such, the B2B marketing mix cannot succeed if marketers don’t put themselves in their client’s shoes and offer them the “perfect-fit” solution.
Never underestimate your client! With increasing access to information online your client will be aware of what your competitors can offer them. Decisions in the field of business buying are made based on certain numerical and functional needs. This organisational-level buying is often clinical and objective; you must meet their needs otherwise, if your competitor can offer a better solution, you cannot expect your clients to chose your offering. When building your B2B marketing mix ensure you tailor all the key elements to suit your unique client needs for the best outcome.
For more detail on the elements of the marketing mix, as well as an outline of some best practices as they relate to the product, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical evidence, see our blog: Marketing Mix Best Practices – Effective Examples of the Seven P’s.
If you have any queries or questions in regard to Digital Marketing Melbourne, then get in contact with the experts at the Lead Agency today! We specialise in a range of B2B marketing services, including Google Ads, Content Marketing, Social Media, and SEO.