Many small to medium sized energy businesses are hesitant to invest in marketing efforts, simply because they fail to see any measurable return on investment. In many cases, though, energy service companies view marketing through a more traditional B2C lens, which is a problem, since energy marketing and consumer marketing are two very different animals. Confusing one with the other results in wasted resources, so it’s easy to understand why some oil & gas service businesses distrust marketing altogether.
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Longer Sales Cycles
One of the most immediately obvious differences between consumer marketing and B2B marketing is the longer sales cycle. Consumers often make purchases on the spot, or with less than a few days consideration. Industrial or B2B purchases are different. Buyers make calculated decisions, often after a lengthy review process, analysis, and comparison between similar products. As a result, energy marketers that are expecting fast sales from marketing investments are going to be disappointed. Instead, B2B marketers should prepare for a more lengthy nurture-based approach to growing revenue.
Buying in Teams
Industrial & energy marketers also need to understand exactly who they are speaking to with their marketing efforts. In consumer marketing, sellers generally market their products at an individual. With B2B marketing, this can be challenging. Energy buying decisions are rarely made by a single person. Instead, teams of people are usually involved in the decision-making process (this is another reason for the longer buying cycle). It is important to understand the different people that will be involved and ensure that you have marketing content that appeals to them.
For example, a field manager at a drilling sight may be sold on the fact that a new piece of drilling equipment will allow his staff to work faster. However, the engineer in Calgary or Houston might be interested in the in labor cost savings associated with the equipment.
Selling to End Users is Not Enough
In consumer marketing buyers are directly exposed to marketing efforts. In B2B marketing, this is not always the case. The employees who will actually use a product are generally the ones who are exposed to marketing. In many cases, though, it is company executives who sign off on the final purchase agreement. As a result, B2B marketing efforts need to equip buyers with information that they can take to senior management to help them realize the value of a purchase. Simply selling the end users on an energy product or service is not enough.
Technical Specs, Not Emotions
Effective consumer marketing encourages us to make purchases based on emotion. That doesn’t work in B2B marketing. B2B buyers are thirsty for information and specifications. They are experts in their field and are very knowledgeable about the products and services they need. Buyers want to know exactly what a product is capable of, why it is an improvement, and how it will fit into their existing systems. Plain and simple.
Energy buyers behave differently. By understanding the differences between traditional B2C customers and B2B energy buyers, companies can develop effective marketing efforts, proving that, when done properly, marketing does work after all.