Media planning and buying in a business-to-business (B2B) environment, much like with a business-to-consumer (B2C) environment, is all about the efficient targeting of audiences while staying within a finite budget. The key difference with B2B media planning compared to B2C media planning is that your target audience happens to be made up of businesses rather than people, and that has the potential to make things a bit tricky.
For instance, rather than an audience made up of women 18-34 (a decidedly expansive group), B2B marketers are typically dealing with a much more niche audience of business decision-makers in unique industries. B2B industries are also not unfamiliar with volatility. These are typically insular places with a limited audience size and number of competitors. This can easily lead to you oversaturating the businesses you’re targeting.
Audience targeting strategies are another area where B2B brands face challenges. To have any luck, you can’t just target the right businesses, but the right people inside of those businesses. For that, it’s difficult to use individual demographics as you would for B2C campaigns. Instead, you have to target “positions” inside companies, determining not just who will benefit the most from your product or service, but who will be the most likely to push for such a change.
The point we’re trying to make here is that B2B media planning and buying is not an easy feat. When you’re in the business of advertising to other businesses, you need media planning services calibrated specifically for this kind of audience.
Boss Moves: B2B Media Planning Services
B2B brands are jumping into the advertising game already facing several challenges right from the get-go. Coming prepared with a media plan will allow you to more easily manage these concerns as you identify, claim, expand and defend your position in the market. Working with media planners, you have the opportunity to analyze the marketing landscape and determine the best strategy for achieving your goals.
By the time you make your first media buy, you’ll know your target audience, your media mix, your objectives and your strategy.
Finding Your Target Audience
To identify your audience, the best place to start is usually with yourself. As a B2B company, you likely provide a product or service designed to solve a unique problem faced by businesses in specific industries. That means you need to consider which industries will contain the types of businesses you want to target.
Start with geography. If you only service businesses in your region, then there’s no reason to look beyond that. If you can reach businesses across the country or even outside of our borders, this greatly increases your audience size.
Next, map out the industry or industries you will work well with. If you only serve healthcare or manufacturing companies, then your media plan will need to be very narrowly focused. However, if your product or service addresses more general business needs, such as renting out commercial space or managing payroll activities, your media plan will look a bit different.
Once you know the industries you want to target, you next need to identify the types of businesses in your audience. Are you going after SMBs that don’t have the capacity to address a particular business need in-house? Or, is your ideal customer an enterprise that has difficulty managing its more complex processes? Other things to consider may be nonprofit vs. corporation or distributor vs. supplier.
Once you’ve identified the types of businesses you’re going after, the process still isn’t quite done. The last step is figuring out which individuals within that business to target your advertising toward. Perhaps it’s department managers who, while not “decision makers'', will see the most direct benefits from your business and will therefore be great advocates. Or, maybe you want to target someone on the board or in the C-Suite who has the authority to write a big check. Who exactly you target will have a direct affect on your value proposition, so consider carefully.
Working with media planning services, your planners not only help you parse through all of this information, we also research audience demographics, where they hang out and what is most likely to appeal to them visually.
Determining Your Media Mix
When it comes to advertising, you have a range of different channels you can engage. Traditional media, while being somewhat overshadowed by its digital counterpart in recent years, still yields great opportunities for B2B brands.
Out-of-home (OOH): Target ads at your audience in business parks, on street furniture or at bus stops near conference centers, along transit routes frequented by business people and more.
Direct: Mail brochures and other promotional materials directly to businesses you’ve identified in your audience.
Print: Buy ad space in industry-specific magazines, newspapers and publications whose audiences align with your own.
Audio: Similar to targeting print ads, advertise on relevant business podcasts or radio shows people in your audience would be listening to.
Of course, digital B2B advertising seems to be where the party’s at these days. According to eMarkter, amid the pandemic, B2B digital ad spending in the US is growing 22.6% year over year.
Search Ads: These text-based ads can really drive conversions when targeted appropriately. Every time a search page loads, an auction determines which ads will appear based on a complex bidding system. Depending on the industry, these ads can either be very cost-effective or pretty expensive.
Display Ads: Rather than being displayed on SERPs, these ads are placed on key websites based on keyword and search criteria. They can be image- or text-based.
Social Media Ads: On sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, you have the option to target ads at employees working in a certain occupation or industry. Social media also gives you the ability to join the conversation and position yourself as a thought leader in these industries.
Regardless of the channels you want to use, your media planners will likely recommend you start by measuring your reach and conversion rate for each vertical to understand the impact of each before you add new ones.
Nailing Down Objectives and Strategy
Along with helping you work out the details of your target audience and appropriate media mix, media planning services give you a space to formalize strategy and objectives. Your objectives are what you want to achieve: new leads, more sales, brand awareness, etc. Your strategy is how you want to achieve these objectives: proving your expertise through engaging content, demonstrating your value through special promotions and partnerships, etc.
Unlike B2C marketing, appealing to your audience on an emotional level won’t be nearly as successful. Instead, you want to promote an air of authority, convincing key decision makers that investing in your product or service will have positive returns.
Take a Break With the Media Stewards
As a B2B company, advertising and marketing is likely a very frustrating endeavor. You just want to find the right approach without throwing away your entire budget in the process, but that requires having proper insights and knowledge of how media works in a B2B landscape.
Since our founding in 1985, The Ward Group has built a reputation for developing strategic media campaigns in a variety of industries. While we fulfill the role of media planners and buyers, we call ourselves media stewards because we make it our priority to spend each media dollar as if it were our own. If you aren’t sure how media planning services will set you up for success, contact us today, and we can start walking you through the process.