Any fresh produce marketer will tell you fruits and vegetables are exciting food products to market. The long list of attributes that they possess is impressive and incomparable across the food industry. Produce is the GOAT of food regarding health benefits, flavor profiles, and versatile cooking applications. This is why, as marketers, we love marketing our products to consumers – there is so much great content to share!
Consumers are a receptive and captive audience. Thanks to market research, we know where they shop, what they buy, and how likely they are to try something new, so we deliver on this intelligence.
A more elusive and fickler customer is the B2B decision-maker. When we have to transition from writing Addy-worthy marketing content to a sales slick or trade show promotion, we often get mired in the mundane task that can be business-to-business lingo. But that does not need to be the case.
In both consumer and business marketing, the function exists to create an environment where a sale can occur. Marketers lay the groundwork for the transaction. With B2B marketing, there is a broad range of opportunities to build this foundation. Marketers must first start with a strong understanding of their competitive landscape. To be a successful B2B marketer, you should know who your competition is and how they are reaching your shared audience – so that you can zig when they zag.
Once the portrait of the sales landscape has been painted, it is time to get creative. This is the point where many will employ the same marketing strategies used in consumer marketing:
- Website [check]
- Social media content [check]
- Email marketing [check]
- SEO [check]
Although these channels will be helpful, there are many more explicitly designed to entertain B2B connections and sales.
The produce industry is no stranger to a party. Whether regional, national, or international, commodity-specific or vendor-hosted, there seems to be a trade show or networking event each week of the year. Drawing back on your competitive analysis and understanding the sales objectives of one’s own brand, you can make informed decisions to participate or exhibit at each of these events, providing an ROI for the investment and identifying the right level of presence needed to make a positive impact (i.e., to create the environment for a sale to close).
Once you have made a case for where and how to participate, it is time to start strategizing. Employing traditional marketing tactics is essential to capture what we affectionately call “low hanging fruit.” Still, new technologies, strategies, and tools are needed to create a meaningful and memorable marketing moment truly. B2B marketing is a brand-to-buyer interaction, but behind both is a human, and this is where the most impactful strategies take into account the delicate dance of surprising and delighting your buyer; this is a food industry after all.
Take the time to get to know the buyer you are courting. What is their story about becoming a buyer of your specific commodity or product? What are the parallels or shared experiences you can draw upon? How do they balance their time, and what types of interactions do they value? Now, build a strategy around this persona and watch them come to a positive decision faster, which will only be the transactional benefit of this approach.
Leveraging technology for automation will allow you to continue to deliver touchpoints, like cookie crumbs, leading the buyer to a decision-making point. A CRM is a critical tool behind the curtain as a dashboard dishing out relevant content to your buyer throughout their journey and providing transparency for your sales team to follow along and engage when the time is right.
The long-term benefit of B2B marketing is the built relationship, which leads to referrals and more business. A positive interaction also improves brand trust and confidence, which is why B2B marketing and investing the time to develop a strong B2B strategy will get you through the next quarter or budget cycle and build a brand foundation that will benefit generations and sales teams to come.