Around this time of year, my company begins to receive applications from recent college graduates and those close to it searching for summer internships or full-time employment. A lot of marketing-focused students are drawn to our company because of the iconic brands we are lucky to call clients and applicants immediately assume they will have a certain level of interaction with those brands during their tenure here. This may be true for our client-facing colleagues, but here in Corporate Marketing, that interaction is minimal at most. When I finally meet face-to-face with the most qualified applicants, some are puzzled to learn that our responsibility is to “market to” these brands and not for. Why the confusion?

Most undergraduate marketing students’ elect to enroll in coursework with a large focus on consumer marketing and little to no exposure to business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Being a Public Relations graduate, even I didn’t quite grasp the distinction of B2B marketing, but I landed a job in this field directly after graduation and have been here ever since. When you get down to it, the responsibility of the B2B marketer can seem quite daunting for a noob. Here are some ideas new B2B marketers should get used to:

1. You’ll get butterflies

B2B marketers target people in power. These decision makers are c-level employees who are specialized in the area which you are so sure your product or service can improve. It may seem intimidating to craft a campaign for a target who may be more experienced than you, but there are steps you can take to prepare. Leverage internal experts to ensure your communication is accurate and solves a problem for your target. Also, it’s always a great idea to get another set of eyes on new material to work out any objections, resistance and errors around your message. As hard as it is to be the new kid on the block who may not know it all, it’s even harder to recover from a bruise to your brand reputation because you didn’t perform due diligence before campaign delivery.

2. Buying cycles are longer

Unlike consumer marketing, B2B marketers can expect longer buying cycles closely related to the average length of time it takes for a lead to enter the sales pipeline all the way to contracting. Depending on your business this can be anywhere from a few months to a year. A conversation at a tradeshow today could spark a call weeks or even months into the future – it is the responsibility of the B2B marketer to deploy S.M.A.R.T. campaigns so they can attribute the capture of a lead directly to a specific marketing effort.

3. It’s ok to be creative

Recipients of B2B marketing efforts get tons of content daily. B2B marketers have to think of creative ways to deliver their brand message so it sticks out and gets past the gatekeeper. Chances are, your direct mail or eMail will get recycled, blocked or immediately deleted if there is not a unique and relevant creative element to capture the attention of the decision maker. Taking the extra time to get creative may be just what your brand needs to differentiate itself from its competitors.

That’s just a taste of the secret sauce for B2B marketing success. I’d love to hear from new B2B marketers and those who have had the responsibility to groom new B2B marketers – anything you know now that you’d like to share?

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