In the world of B2B marketing, there is often a misconception that marketing is only useful for B2C companies. However, Estonian marketers strongly disagree with this notion. According to them, marketing plays a vital role in generating demand and creating value for B2B companies. In this article, we take a look at the perspectives of various Estonian marketers who explain why marketing is necessary in B2B.
This is an excerpt from Hando Sinisalu's upcoming book.
Andres Kangur from wood company Thermory considers marketing to be very important in the B2B field.
"The role of marketing is to generate demand, the same principle applies to both B2B and B2C business. The difference is in tactical actions," says Kangur, who has also worked in the B2C world for a long time, marketing the Mars brand.
According to Kangur, the role of the marketing manager is to take on the client's role in front of the management. "Usually, companies tend to have an inward view, the main areas of concern are, for example, production or finances. Someone has to look outside the company as well, and that is exactly the role of the marketing manager," adds Kangur.
"Marketing is still a strategic core business, not a leaflet printing department," Andres Kangur is convinced.
In IT company BCS Itera, marketing also plays a central role. Marketing manager Marek Maido explains that, while in many other B2B companies marketing is more of an auxiliary activity done quietly in the corner, BCS Itera is extremely active in this area. "The primary mission has been to educate the market with our marketing. For many years, we have been publishing the economic software magazine Äri-IT, which is unique in Europe," he adds.
What makes it more tricky is that educational content is very difficult to measure. "We do a big amount of webinars and seminars. For us, marketing is a lead generator. With our marketing, we want to be opinion leaders in the field, so that it appears that way and is essentially true," explains Maido.
Mihkel Tammo, one of the owners of Estanc, a company that manufactures big containers, believes that most industrial companies mainly think about getting orders produced, filled and delivered, and then produced and delivered again, and so on ad infinitum.
"Many industrial companies don't consider the fact that if marketing has created the right background and value, then they can later ask for more money for this product or service and the customer is willing to pay it," adds Tammo.
Tammo sees the attitude of B2B company leaders as one of the problems. "In manufacturing companies, marketing is often viewed very narrowly, but in fact, sales should be based on background and values previously determined by marketing. I would say that in Estonian industrial companies it is often also a question of managers' education: today's old-school managers simply do not understand, they do not have such literacy," he says sternly.
In addition to supporting sales, according to Tammo, marketing has several other roles, starting with employer branding and ending with communication towards banks, financial institutions and the state.
Tammo also gives a good definition of B2B marketing:
"Marketing is the translation and distribution of the company's basic strategy into human language."
Gerli Soosalu, marketing manager of the international business consulting company Grant Thornton, explains that the role of marketing in their company is to introduce experts through content creation and repurposing it as widely as possible across media, Facebook, LinkedIn and Estonian and English newsletters.
Soosalu explains the chain of operation of this type of marketing: "The main purpose of content is to achieve the position of an opinion leader in certain topics and introduce our people, increase their credibility as experts in the eyes of the customer, and this in turn increases trust in our company, which in turn increases sales."
According to Helmes' marketing manager Katariina Roosipuu, marketing is at the center of brand management and communication and a supporting partner to business management, sales and the HR department. In Roosipuu's opinion, what distinguishes B2B marketing from conventional marketing is that a very large part of the brand itself is the customer- and employee experience, and marketing alone cannot take care of this. "Partnership with the HR and sales department -- the teams that work with customers on a daily basis is very important here," adds Roosipuu.
Reelika Maranik, marketing manager of Comodule, which operates in the micromobility business, says that in their company, marketing focuses a lot on direct communication, sharing new products and ideas. "Marketing is well focused on social media channels, such as LinkedIn. In addition, one of the tasks of marketing is managing our blog and newsletter, conducting webinars and also attending trade fairs," explains Maranik.
Comodule uses the ABM (account-based marketing) model common in the B2B world. "The circle of the most important customers is limited to around 40-50 companies: you know very precisely who you are targeting," says Maranik.
Anneliis Aun from IT company Columbus Eesti claims that the main goal of marketing is to find new customers. "We want to be opinion leaders in our field. New customers reach us mainly thanks to various shows, e-books, webinars, where we discuss, for example, the challenges of trade and industrial companies, we are close to the customer and know exactly what their concerns are. All roads lead back to our own web, where we have also built a marketing automation platform," explains Aun.
As evident from the viewpoints of Estonian marketers, B2B marketing is not only about generating leads and increasing sales, but also about educating the market, creating value, and building long-lasting relationships with customers. By taking on the client's role and looking beyond the company's production or financial concerns, marketing managers can effectively translate their company's strategy into human language, thereby establishing their company as an opinion leader and increasing customer trust. Ultimately, the role of marketing in B2B is to create a strategic core business that aligns with the company's values and objectives, while also being a supportive partner to sales, HR, and other departments.
If you would like to learn more about the ideas and challenges in business-to-business, SIGN UP for our upcoming Parrot conference in Tallinn.