What is Business to Business Marketing?

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In Business to Business marketing (also known as B2B or industrial marketing), products and services are sold to other businesses rather than to the general public. The products may be as familiar as office supplies and coffee, or as complex as computer systems and aircraft. Businesses use these products and services as components of their own goods for sale, to support their operations, or to re-sell. Key players in the field include manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, farms, construction firms, service industries, the government, and non-profit organizations.

The business to business market is larger than the consumer market, since a single demand in the consumer world creates a ripple effect within the supply chain. According to the Business Marketing Association, business to business marketers in the US spend about $85 billion a year promoting their goods and services. Some of the largest outlays are spent on trade shows and events, Internet and electronic media, magazine advertising, public relations, direct mail, and telemarketing.

The traditional four P’s of marketing — Product, Price, Promotion, and Place – are used in business to business marketing, but the sector differs from consumer marketing in several key ways. B2B sales often involve a higher number of decision-makers in each purchase, but there is a significantly higher dollar-amount-per-purchase ratio. In other words, each sale is more complex, but often significantly more valuable. Much business-to-business marketing depends on well-established relationships, and some marketers argue that purchase decisions are motivated more by rational considerations than emotional factors, as in the consumer market.

Education

Few degree programs specialize in business to business marketing, but many cover it as part of their general marketing curriculum. Students interested in business to business marketing should strive to acquire broad knowledge of marketing principles and strategy, in addition to skills in accounting, interpersonal communication, and oral and written presentations. Because business to business marketing is a complex field, a wide base of courses may be more useful than a narrow focus, particularly in the early stages of education.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track data for business to business marketing as a unique role, it does provide the following figures on education levels for marketing careers as of 2011:

Marketing Managers:

  • 84% have a Bachelor’s degree
  • 4% have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • 4% have some college but no degree

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists:

  • 71% have a Bachelor’s degree
  • 25% have a Master’s degree
  • 4% have a Doctoral or professional degree

Public Relations Specialists:

  • 66% have a Bachelor’s degree
  • 15% have a Master’s degree
  • 8% have a Associate’s degree

Advertising and Promotions Managers:

  • 54% have a Bachelor’s degree
  • 22% have a Associate’s degree
  • 14% have s college but no degree

A sample of marketing degrees, including some focused on business to business marketing, appears below:

  • Industrial Marketing Associate Certificate
  • Associate of Science in Marketing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Business – Marketing
  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing & Communication
  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing & Operations Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Marketing
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management – Marketing
  • Master of Science in Marketing
  • Masters of Business Administration – Marketing
  • Doctor of Business Administration – Marketing
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration – Marketing

Careers in Business to Business Marketing

Like other marketers, business to business marketers use business intelligence to evaluate, identify and develop marketing strategy, bring marketing plans to life, and analyze market performance. The ideal business marketer is energetic, creative, organized, and genuinely interested in the people buying their company’s products and services.

Employment in the marketing field is generally robust. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track data for business to business marketing careers specifically, they do forecast that jobs for marketing managers are expected to grow 14% between 2010 and 2020, while jobs for marketing research analysts and marketing specialists will grow 29% — significantly higher than the national average across occupations.

Because the business marketing field is so vast, employees may work under a wide variety of titles. Many of these don’t differ significantly from the consumer marketing world. Job titles for business to business to business marketers include:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Market Research Administrator
  • Product Manager
  • Copywriter
  • Digital Analyst
  • Client Service Manager
  • Media Sales Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Business Development Manager
  • Business Unit Director
  • Client Relationship Manager
  • Content Communication Specialist
  • Head of Enterprise Marketing
  • Campaign Manager
  • Head of Customer Acquisition

Salaries in Business to Business Marketing

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not measure data on business to business marketers as a unique role, they offer the following figures on median sales and marketing salaries across various occupations:

  • Marketing managers: $60.67 per hour, $126,190 annually
  • Sales managers: $56.18 per hour, $116,860 annually
  • Marketing research analysts and marketing specialists: $32.27 per hour, $67,130 annually

In addition, a 2010 survey by the American Marketing Association and staffing firm Aquent found the following median annual salaries for marketing managers in various major cities:

  • New York City: $108,581
  • San Francisco: $108,581
  • Atlanta: $93,150
  • Seattle: $92,579
  • Los Angeles: $91,436
  • Washington, DC: $89,150
  • Chicago: $85,721
  • Houston: $85,150

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