How to Market Business to Business Online

Business to Business MarketingI spend a lot of time shopping.

Yes, I do love wandering around the mall (I grew up on Long Island, so of course I’m a mallrat), but the shopping I’m talking about here is the kind you do online; specifically when you’re looking for a solution or tool to help you run your business.

Almost every day, I come across announcements and recommendation which lead me to a new way of getting business done online. From project management to marketing to billing to much, much more, I check out each and every one of these sites as time allows. Why? Two reasons:

  1. It’s my job to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest things a business CAN do online, and
  2. I really enjoy playing with new toys. 🙂

Since these sites are primarily selling business to business (I set the business to consumer solutions aside for personal time), I see a lot of examples of business to business online marketing. Over time, I’ve formed some very specific opinions on how to market business to business online and I want to share a few of them with you here.

Enjoy and please share your reactions and comments, and feel free to add your own thoughts and insights, in the “Speak Your Mind” section below the post!

Matt’s Take on How to Market Business to Business Online

Don’t Assume That I Know What You Do

Often, online business to business marketers will use trendy (i.e. vague) language to describe what they do.

My favorite example of this is the term “Collaboration Platform” which I’ve seen used as a description for products ranging from online videoconferencing tools to creative approval workflow solutions to project management software and more.

Often, I have to get through an entire page, or even click to a second page, to figure out exactly WHAT a product does.

Often, I have to get through an entire page, or even click to a second page, to figure out exactly WHAT a product does.

It’s fine to be creative when selling your product, but not at the expense of my time. That’s why I’ve created Matt’s “10 second rule”. If I cannot figure out what your product does in 10 seconds or less, I will leave your site. It’s as simple as that.

Tell Me the Benefits of Using YOUR Solution

Once you tell me what you do, move on quickly to telling me WHY I should use your solution to do it. Most businesses fail the test here because they use generic language that tells me about features but does not differentiate their product.

For example, many of the folks looking for a project management solution know about project management (if not, they should read some Wikipedia articles before trying to select a tool to manage that function).

Given that, when they read about your project management solution’s features, they’re not only trying to figure out WHAT it can do, they’re trying to figure out HOW this solution does it in a way that would convince them to select it over another solution.

People shop because they need something. Help them make the decision and you’ll be the hero.

This is basic marketing right here. People shop because they need something. Help them make the decision and you’ll be the hero.

If folks cannot figure out what differentiates your solution from others, they are going to keep looking until they find one that does stand out from the crowd. If presented with only generic product information, they will have no option but to choose one arbitrarily (e.g. your site uses a color they like) and that’s not a winning proposition for you vendors.

To be clear, I am not talking about bashing other solutions here (e.g. “this and that product doesn’t do this”), but you can say something like:

  • “No other tool on the market does this” (that peaks my interest, but make sure your claims are true!) , or
  • “We’re proud of the work we put in to bring this functionality to you after so many users asked for it” (I like this because it shows that you listen to your users which is important to me).

Avoid Using Jargon

You need to speak to me as if I am not immersed your solution every day.

While telling me about WHAT your product does and WHY I should use your solution to do it, you need to speak to me as if I am not immersed your solution every day.

Yes, I know that you’re very proud of your solution and you want to show-off how much expertise you have, but you need to remember that I am focused on my business and your solution is just a piece in the puzzle of my everyday life.

Product Matrix

Click for a Larger View

Here are two examples to show what I mean. Both come from a product matrix (like the one to the right). The first example demonstrates improper use of online vs. “real-world” jargon and the second example demonstrates improper use of industry jargon:

  1. The vendor used the text “Free Clicks per Month” to show how many times a business’ customers could access their special page online. Instead, I would have said, “Number of customer views per month”
  2. The vendor used the text “Call-to-action campaign overlays”. I would suggest an alternative, but I don’t really know what that means!

Summing Up

It may seem as if I’m nitpicking with the three points above, but vendors can use these tips to make their online pitches much more clear and focused.

As a busy business owner, clear and focused is what I like because it gets me in the door, gives me the information I need to make a decision and lets me move on to running my business quickly.

And that’s a great way to differentiate your product right there.

Weekly Link Roundup

Weekly Link RoundupEach week, I collect the 10 best posts that I’ve read and share them with you here.

These posts focus on small business solutions or resources online (or both!).


10 Key Strategies To Make Your Website an Inbound Online Marketing Machine: Solid and basic tips on getting up and running with inbound marketing.

5 Key Metrics to Measure Success of Paid Search Campaigns: How to interpret those mysterious numbers to measure the effectiveness of your paid search campaigns.

PPC Mistakes: Keep Customers From Buying Your Products in 5 Easy Steps: What to avoid when running a paid search campaign – great tips!

Crowdsourcing: The Future of Giving is Social: If you’re looking to raise capital for your business, this is a good post with which to start.

Nine Communication Lessons from Hitting Reply All: I love how this post takes one scenario as a base to create a list of solid communication tips!

Create Your Holiday Online Review Strategy Now: Yes, the holidays are just around the corner! Time to get all of your ducks in a row.

5 Reasons Your Customers Aren’t Using Your Website: Do your site have a high “bounce” rate (people coming in and leaving without going past one page)? These tips can help make your site more useful, and thus stickier.

Top Five Tips for Mobile Email Marketing: Mobile marketing continues to grow in importance – here’s how to assure that your newsletters help you reach your goals, even when read on a phone.

5 Case Studies on Companies That Win at Social Media and eCommerce: An oldie but a goodie chock-full of real-life case studies.

Infographic: Twitter vs Facebook vs Google+: A handy chart that highlights the differences, and the different uses, of these social media platforms.


  1. Excellent, Matt. Brief, simple, and very, very practical. Thanks for sharing these important insights.

  2. Thanks, Matt, for the inclusion of the reply all Spin Sucks post! I love the idea of shopping through finding the right kinds of content. THAT is my kind of shopping. Have a great weekend!


  1. says:

    Matt About Friday: The “How to Market Business to Business Online” Edition…

    Since I shop for online solutions so often, I’ve formed specific opinions on how to market business to business online and I share a few of them with you here….

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