In marketing to other businesses or individuals one of the most important things is to establish good relationships. In the business-to-business “B2B” world, this requires a commitment of time and good customer service prior to ever making that first sale. B2B customer service begins with a customer’s very first contact with a company. It may take place with a phone call initiated by a sales person, or an engineer, product’s buyer, or some other company representative searching for a product or service from another B2B company, having arrived at the company’s website online for the first time, and hence this online visit becomes the first contact point with the company.
Typically for a B2B company the process for a sale is longer than that of business-to-consumer, “B2C” counterpart. Most B2C customers are looking for the best price possible including the value added option to have the very best commitment of good customer service. For example, I find myself, that when it comes to purchasing a consumer product, I do extensive research online to check the specifications on a product and price from online sources. I will also look at the store feedback from other folks that have made purchases in the past. If that product is displayed on a website from a company that also has a local brick and mortar outlet, I am most likely to buy it locally, even if the price is slightly higher. If the product is not found locally then I would look for the best value; even willing to pay more for quality service, and also checking to verify what their return policies are, and then reading the customer service feedback information area (hopefully in the form of independent feedback) for direct feedback about the company’s services provided. The bottom line is that I want value when making an online purchase. I want a business that I can trust and a business that will be there when I need answers to my questions.
In the B2B world this process of making a sale requires more one on one communications, with details of a product or service spelled out. In manufacturing, fabrication, and engineering design this requires extensive communication even after a sale is solidified. If a B2B company can provide a quality product or service, even if that price is higher than the competition, a customer will be willing to pay for a slightly higher price, provided there is a perceived value in what is being sold. That value can be in the form of customer service, engineering design assistance, on-time delivery, and quality.
For example: Lets say an engineer does a search on the web for a specific product, which might be just one small part of the overall design for whatever OEM product widget the company has on the drawing board. He comes up with several supplier candidates from the list of B2B companies by searching online for particular search terms related to the small part widget required. The engineer is most likely looking for pertinent information, and needs to find it quickly. It is entirely likely the engineer will call the company once he finds them online to ask some very specific questions. This is especially true for OEM equipment and/or specialized fabrication manufacturing, engineering, and design requirements.
Some companies serve both the B2B and the B2C side of the coin. For example large office supply outlets have online service for both the consumer as well as the corporate buyer. In this type of business, the office supply outlet has to handle both the consumer and business customers from two slightly different angles. This can affect the types of online transactions that will occur for a sale or sales to take place. Consumers most likely would want to handle eCommerce sales with a credit card, while the business buyer would probably want to set up an account with the outlet store.
In the B2C world, customers are tending to place a lot of emphasis on price comparisons. Customers go shopping online for the best price possible. What used to take a customer all day for price comparisons, driving around town, comparing one store’s price of the product with that of another, can now be done in a matter of minutes on the Internet. This happens simply by a consumer jumping from one website to another, or even having all the websites open in multiple browsing tabs, at the same time, for product features and price comparisons.
The dynamics of the marketplace today are changing at a very fast rate. In order to respond to those changes a company needs to address online marketing on a number of different fronts. For the B2B fabrication, engineering, and machining companies, they need to be able to come to grips with the fact that a lot of the manufacturing processes has been outsourced overseas. In recent years this outsourcing has caused a number of companies to go out of business. Companies that are currently surviving and even prospering, are using every marketing and advertising means available to them. There still is however, a need for quick turn prototype work in manufacturing and fabrication. In order to meet the challenge of some B2B companies staying in business during tough economic times and being able to reach prospective clients, the Internet and their web site is fundamentally key for businesses to carefully weigh and consider for marketing in the twenty-first century.
Likewise, B2C companies need to approach advertising and marketing with ever increasing scrutiny, and carefully determine where they spend their advertising and marketing dollars, and invest wisely, where the greatest returns can be realized. See information about online advertising and Internet marketing comparisons to other forms of media for spending the advertising dollars. With the Internet becoming such a major media outlet for reaching customers, careful considerations should be given to a website and marketing on the Internet.
For more details and information on the overall B2B and B2C Internet marketing picture we invite you to take a look at the information on our Web site. Our marketing and advertising resources page has information and helpful links. Our home page gives a very good overview of what is involved in the whole realm of Internet marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization “SEO”, and a wealth of other resource links for your business.
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