What Is a Business-To-Business Marketing Plan?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A business-to-business marketing plan is a strategy to communicate directly with other businesses to sell products and services. Marketing consultants can provide assistance with the development process or a company can create plans internally, relying on its own communications personnel to plan out an effective and appropriate strategy. Consumers and businesses approach transactions with different needs in mind and marketing plans need to accommodate their prospective targets in order to be effective.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

These types of transactions take place all over the world on a daily basis. They tend to be much larger than consumer transactions and can involve raw materials, finished products, and services. Companies typically have a range of businesses they can choose from when they look for suppliers, just as consumers have a number of options when they make personal purchases. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is critical for attracting and keeping business customers.

Companies can use a variety of techniques when they develop a business-to-business marketing plan. They need to think about the types of products and services they offer, and which kinds of businesses might be prospective clients. This can involve comparison with other companies that have a similar range of products, and an examination of the products and services potential clients sell, as well. Businesses can draw up profiles of the industries they work in and the kinds of messages they want to project with their advertising campaigns.

Business owners must think about where marketing might best take place to benefit their bottom line. Business-to-business marketing tends to take place in environments like trade shows, industry magazines, and similar communications, rather than through mass media and public information resources. This type of marketing campaign must explore possible platforms for advertising to ensure a company reaches the target audience. The plan can also include innovative approaches to communication like viral advertising if these are appropriate to the product and the target market.

Firms with a strong business-to-business marketing plan can break down the components of the plan to assign them to the appropriate parties. The plan may include room for growth and expansion to allow a company to make an advertising campaign larger without losing the core messages behind it. Adaptability is also useful, as a company may need to respond to ads from a competitor, changing advertising standards in trade publications, and other issues that may arise while attempting to communicate with prospective business partners.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@ceilingcat - That's interesting. I've heard that word of mouth advertising is the best way to market, and it proves true again and again.

As far as business-to-business marketing, I must admit I've never given it much thought. But it's interesting to think about businesses taking on the role of the salesperson with their customers, and the role of customer with other businesses. I bet people who are in sales are tougher than regular customers when they are being sold to!


I work in a small office, and other businesses are always trying to market stuff to us. I've found the least effective way they market is to have someone come to our office unannounced during the work day.

Picture this: the whole office is busy, taking care of customers or whatever. Then someone comes in and wants "just a few minutes" of the managers time. Our manager often comes out and listens politely for a minute, apologizes and says we are busy, and then throws that persons card away!

We even have a "no soliciting" sign on the door, but it doesn't seem to help. Most of the companies we do business with are companies that the owner heard about through word of mouth, and all the soliciting isn't going to change that!

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