by Mark Eardley (@mdeardley) Why develop a B2B competency? For the money. In fact, astonishing amounts of money.

  • B2B spend: R5 490 000 000 pa
  • Ranks third in SA’s marketing spend

TV: R16.70bn
Newspapers: R6.81bn
B2B: R5.49bn
Radio: R5.35bn

Source: PWC: 2015–2019 Entertainment & Media Outlook B2B FORECAST: pp 187–198

B2B’s R5.49bn – where it goes:

Trade mags: R733m
Directories: R1 440m
Exhibitions: R3 317m

PLUS all this:

PR Events OOH
Websites Radio/TV Research
Data Sponsorships Collateral
Social Video CXM

Winning a piece of the multibillion pie

I can’t think of a B2B marketing tactic that doesn’t feature in B2C. PR, video, events, content, digital, print, social and sponsorships — all play major roles in B2B.

South Africa’s full-service B2C agencies have shelves full of awards that testify to their proven abilities across all those disciplines. They’ve got real evidence that they’re accomplished in producing the goods. For these agencies, the skill-sets necessary to generate new revenue in the B2B space are already on the payroll and, in many cases, they have clients with a significant B2B component in their overall business.

The skills are in place and the clients are in your orbit. In terms of marketing knowledge, you also understand concepts such as differentiation, segmentation, targeting, engagement and measurement. All that’s missing from an account-winning proposition is knowing how to execute marketing initiatives/campaigns according to B2B’s governing rules.

Playing by the rules

Here’s a quick-read article with a great video that summarises the rules. It may convince you that developing a B2B competency isn’t rocket science for an experienced B2C team.

B2B’s writ-in-stone rules are the same today as they were, say, 60 years ago. The reason they’ve stood the test of time is because they keep B2B focused on its sole goal: attract and retain profitable customers.

Achieving the goal may be distilled-down to just two, hard-core rules. First, engage everyone who influences the buying decisions that create sales. Second, win every influencer’s support for the decision.

Why the opportunity exists

Locally, the bar for B2B marketing-performance is set shockingly low. That creates an opportunity because stacks of B2B firms are totally missing the mark when it comes to getting the right sales-creating messages to the right people for the right reasons.

To highlight just how much they’re missing it, perhaps consider how most corporate ICT providers are promoted. It’s typically grounded in meaningless guff like this: “We configure innovative, world-class digitisations combining best-of-breed solutions with agile implementation to deliver bespoke synergies via holistic partnerships that mitigate risk and embed competitive advantage across converged value-chains.” No mention anywhere of building their customers’ sales, margins or market share. No mention at all of creating what every C-suite wants: profitable growth.

Prove to boardrooms in the B2B market that you can deliver those highly-commercial messages with compelling relevance and credibility, and some of that (possibly misspent) R5.49bn could well be coming your way. Even better, prove to them that you can move their marketing department from a cost-centre into a revenue-generator.

The money-door’s wide open and barriers to entry are low

There are only a few local B2B agencies which seriously know the game and have the capability — as a one-stop-shop — to devise and deploy campaigns that will increase a clients’ sales, protect their margins and build market share. That one-stop offering is massively important. In B2B, long-unconvinced CEOs (with a rightfully rock-bottom opinion of marketing) want one source of responsibility and one source of accountability for their one demand: “Marketing, show me the money.” Finish and klaar.

In this R5bn+ game, when I say only a few SA agencies are capable of meeting that demand, I mean just two. The game’s on. Wanna play?

See also


Mark EardleyMark Eardley (@mdeardley) advises B2B companies on how to govern their marketing to attract and retain profitable customers; several of his clients have grown to become market leaders. He and Charlie Stewart have written Business-to-Business Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide (Penguin Random House), which offers practical, actionable advice on how to make marketing make money. His monthly “Back2Basics” column covers how B2B companies and their agencies should manage their marketing.

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