5 Top Challenges When Marketing B2B Software

What’s so different about marketing business-to-business (B2B) anyway?

I’ve spent most of my career in marketing of business software and services, so I get asked this question a lot.  How is marketing business software different from marketing a consumer app?

There’s actually some significant differences, and if you don’t remember that then you’re not likely to be successful with your marketing.

Here’s a list of the top 5 challenges in selling B2B software rather than consumer:

  1. Selling a Solution — If you’re selling a business app, then you have to sell a solution to a problem, not a piece of software.  Ideally, you can tie the use of your software to a solution to one of the top three problems that keeps your target user awake at night.  And then market that solution…
  2. More Than One Buyer – the purchase or adoption decision for a business application often involves more than one person.  You don’t only have to market to potential users, but you also have to include messaging for other stakeholders, such as group manager, execs, purchasing manager or CFO, etc.
  3. Aligning the Ecosystem – If you’re marketing a solution (see #1), as you should, then sometimes that solution involves more than just your product.  For example, when I was working for Intel we had to focus on software marketing with partners in order to convince users to buy a new PC – they don’t buy hardware, they buy software.  So figure out which companies sell the other pieces to your solution, and approach then to do joint marketing.
  4. Longer Sales Cycle – for a typical business software purchase, it’s not as easy as having the user visit your website, read your great sales copy, and click to purchase or sign up.  Even for a small purchase they may need to get their manager’s approval, or perhaps it needs to be included in the next budget cycle or reviewed with other stakeholders.  That all takes time.
  5. Supporting Content Matters – B2B buyers expect to find good-quality marketing content about your software.  At the least you should have a professional brochure, some case studies and testimonials, and a product data sheet.  You can also write and publish white papers to market to your audience.

Remembering these 5 key differences will make it easier to properly market your business software. For additional help, check out the software marketing toolkit here.

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