If you haven’t created or implemented a B2B marketing strategy because you’re under the impression it’s costly or not worth the effort… you’re not alone. Many seafood supply chain companies may have the same perception but marketing isn’t a “chore” – it’s an effective growth strategy.
Marketing is a crucial skill required of every business to create public awareness about your brand, products, and services. It works to target your ideal customers, engage them, build a positive industry reputation, and of course, make sales to increase your bottom line.
This article covers the following:
What is B2B Marketing?
B2B, or Business-to-Business (formerly known as Industrial Marketing), is a marketing strategy used by institutions whose ideal customers are other companies. A seafood supplier or service provider’s B2B customers include other organizations like processing plants, distributors, or food service companies.
Examples of B2B Businesses include
- Primary producers: fishing companies like Trident Seafoods or aquaculture companies like Mowi
- Service providers: freight forwarders like Flexport or data companies like Dun & Bradstreet
- Media companies: industry news and resources sites like Trademodo, SeafoodSource or Undercurrent News
Compared to B2C (Business-to-Consumer) marketing where knowledge of one-on-one sales processes and end-user preferences is required, B2B marketing requires suppliers and service providers to focus on developing relationships with other businesses – and the true art of contractual deal-making. It demands companies target the needs, interests, and challenges of the individual making the purchase on behalf of the organization.
There are two questions every B2B company must ask themselves:
- Are you currently knowledgeable of, or willing to learn how to conduct an effective B2B marketing campaign?
- Do you have the time and energy to maintain B2B marketing campaigns over the long term?
If the answer to either of those questions is, “no” – consider contracting a B2B marketing agency like Trademodo. A marketing agency is a third-party company often hired by B2B companies to customize your branding message and ensure the nuances of B2B marketing are considered when managing marketing campaigns. B2B strategies are very different from B2C marketing and for companies with time constraints or shortages in staffing expertise, hiring a third-party marketing agency is a convenient option.
Types of B2B Marketing
The three primary types of B2B marketing include a more traditional approach, digital methods, and personal selling.
Traditional B2B Marketing
Radio and television advertisements, as well as print ads in newspapers or industry-specific publications, can grab the attention of your target audience and are considered more traditional methods of marketing. While these strategies have been used for decades, they still provide value to B2B supplier and service provider companies.
They may be a bit more costly to implement – as businesses are all competing for air time and ad space. Well-placed advertisements are one profitable tactic to create brand awareness and showcase specific products or services.
Digital B2B Marketing
Highlighting your offerings through online, digital means helps with documenting and tracking how many clients see your ads, their online preferences, and the overall success of your marketing strategies. Creating educational blog articles, engaging social media videos, sponsored and paid content, and email marketing are just a few strategies to boost your digital marketing presence and generate MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads).
Personal B2B Selling
Potentially one of the most effective means of marketing, personal selling is also considered the most expensive. Networking and face-to-face interaction are crucial skills that may take time to be mastered by a sales team but have the greatest potential to generate sales.
Oftentimes, personal selling is paired with another type of marketing. For example, a client may see your digital ads on Google or a social media platform and follow up by requesting a personal sales call to learn more. At that point, your talented sales team can swoop in to create the relationship, and make the sale.
B2B Marketing Strategy
Prior to releasing any marketing materials, executing any marketing campaigns, or deploying brand messaging, there are a few crucial planning steps to make certain that marketing efforts prove value for your B2B company. It’s important to analyze the typical buyer’s journey so you can position your company (and marketing) successfully.
B2B Buyer’s Journey
Understanding the steps in the buyer’s journey helps to lay the constructive strategy for marketing your B2B products and services.
There are many versions of the buyer’s journey but the primary stages are as follows:
Before your B2B company can offer a solution to a buyer’s problem, they must first be aware that they have a problem and that your company has the solution to it. This stage is the perfect time to emphasize the methods your company uses to alleviate the buyer’s pain points or struggles.
Examples of pain points could include:
- Their current supplier is inconsistent with delivery which negatively affects customer satisfaction and potentially their bottom line.
- The selection with their current supplier does not meet their needs.
- They are a new business and in need of a reputable and consistent seafood supplier or service provider.
Once the potential customer is aware of your ability to adequately solve their problems, they enter into the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. At this point, potential clientele may be comparing your offerings with other similar companies and deciding which best suits their needs and preferences.
They may be searching for specific products or services, testimonials, and referrals from other organizations who have used your services in the past or may need to test out what you have to offer in order to make a final decision on a long-term agreement.
At this stage, the buyer’s research is complete and they make a decision on which supplier or service provider is best for them. However, the work is not yet done. If they have settled on your products or services, it is imperative to ensure their buying process is as smooth as possible to ensure repeat business and recurring revenue.
To entice customers into the buyer’s journey, every supplier or service provider must position themselves through effective B2B marketing efforts. Nail down what your company stands for, where it’s headed in the future, and what will be accomplished. Identifying your brand helps to accurately craft marketing messaging and attract ideal buyers.
1. Brand Positioning
A company brand is more than just a logo, color scheme, and postcard graphics – it’s your mission, values, and overarching vision. What was your goal when you first began your company? Who were you aiming to help? Discover your “why” and morph it into a strong statement that clearly identifies company values, is very specific, and targets the companies and organizations you wish to do business with.
Crafting your Mission Statement
A mission statement can help define your B2B brand by concisely describing why your company was started and what you’d like to achieve.
One example of a mission statement from a top seafood producer is:
“We sustainably maximise the value of the North Atlantic marine resources, for the benefit of our owner and the local communities in which we operate.” – Royal Greenland
The mission statement should be succinct and powerful to avoid any confusion or misconceptions about who you are, who you aim to help, and how.
Devising your Value Statement
Creating a value statement tells your consumers exactly what you bring to the table and provides the information to make a clear decision on whether they want to work with your brand. It weeds out the types of businesses that don’t fit within your core audience and advances organizations that are a perfect match for your company goals. A clear value statement also exemplifies your company culture.
A company value statement should also be brief, use compelling language, and communicate your company’s soul.
One example from one of the world’s largest seafood companies is:
“As one of the largest fishing and food companies in the world, we understand good business comes with big responsibilities. Our success depends on the strong relationships we’ve built with honesty, respect, and trust over time. Those who do business with us, and our own people, know how committed we are to these values.” – Maruha Nichiro
The wording does not need to be formal in nature, but clear, powerful, and utterly transparent.
Identifying Your Vision Statement
A company vision statement describes the overall goals of the business. Map out specific, overarching projections for your company. It should speak to, not only the goal of the company, but of every employee in it. Executives and employees alike should align with a company’s vision statement.
One example of a vision statement from one of the best seafood companies:
“Our vision for 2030 is to go beyond nutrition and into sustainable protein production: both in feed and food, both of animal and non-animal origin. We will evolve our business beyond providing products towards integrated solutions that are closer to the consumer.” – Nutreco
Vision statements are often to the point and can include some creativity. It may be helpful to consult employees when crafting a vision statement to ensure total company buy-in.
2. Discover your Target Audience
It is clear that B2B marketing strategies target other businesses and organizations, but
to discover your target audience, it must be more specific. Clearly identifying your B2B target
audience personalizes B2B marketing efforts and could result in greater lead generation and
What criteria shapes a Target Audience for a B2B seafood supply chain company?
Narrow the list of businesses that will benefit the most from your products or services. Are there companies that you can contact that may not have previously considered your products or solutions? Analyze who your competitors are targeting, and what advantage you may have over those competitors.
What are their purchasing preferences?
If the goals of your B2B company are to help the “little guy” in the industry, you may look to attract long-term contracts by being more responsive or flexible to their needs. On the other hand, you may aim to target large-scale clients who are looking for consistency and exclusivity. Each of these requires different B2B marketing techniques.
What problems does your B2B company wish to solve for potential clients?
When offering business solutions, it’s crucial to identify your customer’s challenges, and how they may have attempted to address those obstacles. What makes your service or products better than what they have tried, and how does this stack up with your competitors?
Consider your current clientele.
Are these businesses or organizations that you would like to continue doing business with? Was your initial goal something different and you initially attracted customers that did not align with business goals? If you got it right on the first try, analyze those current customers as your target market.
What is the target audience’s communication style (and does your business aim to market to them in that fashion)?
If your ideal buyer has a website and is active online, you may consider approaching them digitally via their website, social media, or available contact information. They will likely check to see if you have a digital presence to get a feel for your business. If their business is offline, they assumably prefer face-to-face communication. Do you have a mutual contact that can offer a quality referral, or can you send your sales team to personally approach them?
What is their geographical location?
Do you have the bandwidth to do business with companies nationwide or internationally? Do you have the correct certifications and capabilities to meet their needs? For international businesses, are you familiar with applicable laws and regulations? What kind of risk are you exposing yourself to, and do you have a strategy to mitigate any imaginable risks?
While there are MANY questions you could ask yourself to target your ideal audience, focus on the firmographics and behaviors of those businesses you intend to partner with.
3. Competitor Analysis
If you have not recently looked at your competitor’s offerings or you don’t understand who you’re up against, it’s time.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis to gain a full understanding of your supply company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats which places you in a position to compare, alter, and grow your business through systematic research.
A SWOT Analysis is often visualized through a 4-square grid format and separated horizontally by the “helpful vs. harmful” characteristics based upon whether they are dependent on “internal or external” forces, which are positioned vertically.
What goes into developing a SWOT Analysis?
Reflect on what your company does well. Complete a “brain dump” of these strengths – even if you may think they are small or insignificant – every strength counts. They can be company-wide or departmental-specific strengths like customer service or sales. Identifying these strengths identifies what IS working and confirms the direction to continue capitalizing on those successful strategies.
- Which of your current marketing efforts positively affect the bottom line?
- What is the best and most effective B2B communication strategy?
- Which strengths could you consider better than your competitors?
Not only is it crucial to list all the areas in which your company succeeds… you must analyze the areas in which your B2B company can improve. When you’re aware of your internal weaknesses, you can work to overcome them and put your business in a position to grow and succeed.
- What stops potential clients from making their first purchase after they’ve inquired about your products and services?
- If any of your clients don’t return for services, identify why.
- Are you struggling to get your customers to reconcile their invoices promptly?
Opportunities pose great possibilities from which your supplier and service provider company could benefit. Think of these external opportunities as realistic goals and use them as strategies to improve and separate your business (in a positive way) from that of your competitors.
- Is there an event website that your target audience is currently flocking to, where you can showcase your products and services?
- Were you made aware of a payment processing software that could increase the ease, speed, and efficiency with which your clients could settle their balance?
- Are there global events or trends that are changing the landscape of the seafood industry, and is there a gap you can fill?
What are the outside threats to your success? Identify these types of threats to ensure that they are prevented quickly and avoid repercussions. Threats can be from the changing market, new laws or regulations, or more commonly from your competitors, for example.
- Is there a new B2B competitor providing services in your geographical area?
- Are you relying on any outdated processes that could be made obsolete with technology that might be adopted by your competitors or customers?
- Are there competitors that can outperform you but are not currently in your market, and can the barriers preventing their entry easily be overcome?
4. Decide on the best marketing channels to reach the Target Audience
Knowing where your current and ideal customers are spending their time paves the way for targeted B2B marketing efforts. Where is your target audience getting their industry data from, does it seem like they prefer to communicate through emails, do they have a blog and website? Their behavior can provide hints about whether you should be advertising on a particular website, setting up an email outreach campaign, or creating your own B2B website, as they may expect you to have one.
How to do B2B Marketing
B2B marketing in a way that’s effective and leads to overall success requires many different tactics that when compiled. When done well, they are a knock-out strategy for any seafood supply chain company.
B2B lead generation is a reputable method for businesses to connect with their target market and attract new leads. Generating various types of qualified leads through a myriad of proven and effective methods attracts more customers who may still be in the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.
There are two primary categories of lead generation strategies – organic (free) and inorganic (paid). The most financially rewarding and effective tactics to attract prospects are authentic to the brand’s mission, vision, and values and work to naturally grow interest in the company.
Organic Lead Generation
This cost-free method of gaining qualified leads often includes the creation of engaging content that is consistent with brand messaging across many different channels. Crafting educational blog articles on your B2B supplier and service provider website, offering industry-specific downloadable content for visitors, and gaining company endorsements via video or text for your website or other advertising platforms are a few options to consider. Additionally, client testimonials promote trust and brand loyalty among current and potential clientele which can result in the attraction of more leads.
Inorganic Lead Generation
Organic methods may take time to gain traction with your potential client base but to speed up lead generation results, B2B companies often select inorganic strategies. These require research, organization, and a monetary investment upfront to be impactful and yield a high ROI (Return on Investment).
Examples of historically profitable inorganic lead generation pursuits include spending labor funding and travel expenses to schedule in-person visits or sales calls with prospective clients. Many large-scale manufacturers and distributors appreciate personalized conversations about their needs. Investing in trade show entry fees and promotional materials offers potential clients the opportunity to sample your offerings and build trust in your B2B company.
Digitally, placing ads on sites like Google or Bing requires a financial investment alongside the installation of tracking pixels – resulting in measurable KPMs to analyze marketing approach efficacy. Data extracted from these tracking pixels proves to be invaluable for achieving company revenue goals.
If possible, offer your current consumers a reward for directing other customers to your supply business through a referral program. You could offer a percentage off their next supply order or a free amount of product with their next shipment. This is a great method for encouraging existing customers to try a new product you may be launching and consequently gathering more qualified leads.
Digital Marketing Campaigns
As an inorganic marketing method, B2B digital marketing campaigns promote your products and services online, in exchange for a fee, and generate leads through online means.
Use tracking pixels, paid ads, and targeted advertising methods to get your name and business services in front of the right people – your target audience. Pay-per-click (PPC) is a budget-friendly way to integrate inorganic digital ad campaigns into your marketing portfolio where you only pay when a prospect clicks on the link (not to place it). This allows B2B companies to control the cost of their paid ad campaigns, and experiment with different variables to find the strategy that gives you the highest return on investment.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is essential to any content marketing strategy. Commonly, when potential clients have a problem, question, or concern, they turn to the internet to find the answers but with billions of websites on the internet, B2B supplier and service provider companies brainstorm methods to rank on search engines. The most effective method – SEO. Performing keyword research specific to your industry and using those “most searched words and phrases” strategically in your content helps your company get seen by potential clients and influences lead generation of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads).
Having a B2B content marketing strategy helps businesses by keeping clients informed. New and existing leads are interested and can benefit from receiving useful information from trusted sources that make their content digitally accessible through their website, emails, and social media platforms.
Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on your website to gain organic, unpaid, web traffic from people using search engines like Google. Using SEO strategies helps businesses rank on various search engines, meaning get toward the top of the list when someone organically searches for a specific keyword or phrase pertaining to your industry or product.
Many businesses either write or outsource the creation of their SEO-laced blog articles to inform of industry trends, showcase new products or services, and engage them with their seafood questions or concerns. SEO strategies are effective when posting written, image-based, or video content on social sites – in addition to website-focused digital locations.
Creating high-impact infographics, ebooks, and valuable educational content demonstrating industry expertise often proves effective for generating qualified leads. The content could be a chart or image depicting the steps in the seafood supply chain, highlighting the current state of the industry, or instructing viewers through downloadable manuals on proper seafood storage, for example.
Many businesses, once leads are acquired, use a form of email marketing to showcase their products, upcoming promotions, and keep them updated on the mission, vision, and values of the company – creating an emotional connection often necessary to close sales.
Media sponsorships, when obtained, can be a true gift for supply or service providers. A media sponsorship often means that someone else is footing the bill for advertising events on platforms like regional television, radio, digital platforms, and physical media. For example, imagine the neighboring town is hosting its annual crab festival. Local media outlets may agree to run ads at their own expense to benefit the community that supports them.
Industry-specific publications and websites that offer media sponsorships prove extremely effective to draw prospects to large-scale, national, or international events and have already done the legwork of targeting your shared audience. The owners of these publications may include SEO-focused blog articles describing the event with a direct call-to-action link to entice readers to register. If they have an email list of viewers, they may also be willing to sponsor a set of marketing communications containing directives to gain event visitors or even post video content on their social channels.
In addition to the more traditional media sponsorship methods (like TV, radio, and print), social media influencers can have a huge impact on the number of new leads that approach your website for services. Influencers are often digital gurus and commonly, in exchange for a monetary fee, these popular channels can showcase and promote your goods, reaching new clientele and creating brand awareness (and credibility in the industry).
If your company is planning to showcase your products at an event, the advertising benefits are both cost-free and extremely effective for gathering a slew of new leads, raising brand awareness, and gaining crucial credibility with visitors.
You do not have to be a marketing expert to have an effective targeted advertising campaign. Leverage the expertise of B2B marketing agencies to take care of the legwork. These third-party organizations understand marketing performance benchmarks and can help you create effective SEO articles, influencer-sponsored campaigns, content marketing strategies, and take care of paid ads on your behalf without the need to learn a myriad of new skills. They will track your campaigns to see what is working, what is not, and how much return you are getting from your investments so the strategy can be reevaluated and reorganized, as needed.
Defining every problem that your customers and potential customers are dealing with (and how you can resolve them) places your company at the head of the line when it comes to the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. Use smart marketing strategies that place your business in front of your target market and watch your revenue grow as a result.