Marketing may be a major business function, but it isn’t very well understood in the B2B environment. There are lots of academic definitions, but often they only make sense to those who already understand marketing. The definitions also tend to focus on B2C, rather than B2B, marketing.
I have a definition that comes from practical experience. It might not make the cut for Webster’s, but for most people, it helps clarify what B2B marketing is and what it does’
Defining where and how the company will compete:
This entails the research and decisions that define the company’s focus related to the markets the company participates in and its position in those markets (market intelligence and market strategy).
Supporting the sales process:
These are the activities that sit alongside the funnel and produce a positive perception of the company, as well as tangible tools and information that support the sales process (branding and sales support).
Creating loyal customers:
These are the activities that sit at the end of the funnel and ensure that existing customers stay loyal to the company and buy again, and in greater quantities, in the future. Typically, smaller companies focus on lead generation and education and branding and sales support only, while larger or more sophisticated companies focus on the market intelligence and strategy and creating loyal customers.
There is a debate surrounding the use of the funnel as an accurate depiction of the marketing development process. Those against the funnel argue that it represents a straight-line process from awareness to revenue. Such a straight-line process is no longer a reality. Today, prospects skip back and forth fluidly between stages.
A prospect may be ready to buy before a salesperson has ever engaged with them. I use the funnel here because it’s still the most widely understood conceptualization of the sales process. It may help to think of the funnel as an open structure that prospects and customers can enter and exit as they choose.