B2B marketing to a niche is harder than it looks – and under-appreciated.
B2B marketers who take a niche brand in a niche market are a rare breed. Quite simply, it is hard and demands one of the purest forms of marketing. With small audiences, each interaction and every message counts. You simply don’t have the gift of huge numbers to learn slowly. You need to plan, learn and be agile. In a world where one sale can make a campaign a success, the margins between success and failure are fine.
Yet the traditional marketing world is against you. MarTech platforms primarily rely on commercial models that reward larger volumes of users or activity (normally audience size/interactions). If your global audience numbers are in the low 1000s, many of the larger tech platforms are not appropriate — even if they are the ones that shout loudest around best practices.
Channel selection, too, is difficult. When looking for specific individuals or responsibilities within complicated businesses, common demographic filters within data providers are often not granular enough. On top of that, many platforms operate minimum audience sizes which prevent precise targeting or, worse still, rule out the use of that platform entirely. Put simply, MarTech plays to scale, but you play to niches.
This extends to measurement tools, too. With small audiences, statistically significant results are a work of fantasy, as small groups of participants’ activity swing the results. This is even more acute at bottom of the funnel metrics, where the numbers reduce further. As a result, no doubt you’ve been working with different metrics for years, forging a close relationship with your sales teams to gather as much insight as you can. You cannot just look at a standard dashboard. There’s more to it than that.
Approaches, too, are much more difficult. ABM? Well, the nature of your audience size means you have Always Been Marketing like this. In this world, the very definition of a “one-to-many” campaign is ‘a campaign that reaches the entire market.’ ABM isn’t a choice, it’s the only show in town for targeting.
Your brand story will rely on recommendations and a well-cultivated reputation. Your approach to advocacy will be much more developed than others.
Your standard of creativity must be as high as possible, as every interaction counts. Emotional? Purpose-led? Features/benefits-led activity was dropped a long time ago, as the cut-through simply wasn’t there. If your product portfolio contains precision engineering, medical devices or health & safety products that are needed by your audience, you know that building preference is only possible with a strong and recognised brand. And this starts with controlled and consistent messaging. When marketing products to a niche, every piece of marketing needs to be from the top drawer. Consistency is key. You cannot have an off day.
A B2B marketer’s role spans wide into customer experience too as it needs to be great, every time. And why? You don’t have enough space to be complacent. And despite possessing top-end marketing skills, B2B marketers targeting a niche are under-appreciated. Often working in small teams, a typical day includes strategy and activation, with sleeves being rolled up as often as a strategic framework is consulted. It is part of the role. Being nimble, quick and reactive to opportunities is essential.
And it is why many B2B marketers choose this as a career path at the expense of working on those brands that the family have heard of around the Christmas dinner table. And yet, their lives will be touched in some way by those niche products/services in ways that go unnoticed for many. It is almost like B2B marketing to a niche is a dirty secret, when it should be celebrated.
It is perpetuated by those handing out B2B industry awards who regularly reward those with large audiences, promoting familiar products/services to large audiences despite the performance levels of niche activity being much more impactful. Size or familiarity is not a mark of quality. Performance is. This year’s B2B Cannes Lions winners proved that more than ever.
It is a career choice.
It is a career choice, too. Building your career targeting a niche means it is only understood by others in our world. The switch to B2C — or even the third sector — will be hard, and, for many, unsurmountable. Completely chalk and cheese. This means those B2B marketers who have taken this path are in it for the long term.
When it comes to agency support, you don’t have the largest choice. Like MarTech, most agencies build commercial models propped up on lots of activity or large media spend. But, in your world, it is likely never going to be a mega-budget campaign nor huge media spend. It will often involve promoting products/services which, on the surface, won’t excite many. They need to get the product, get the people and get up for it. Quick. This takes a paradox of an agency – super bright minds who are excited by working hard and with sensible budgets only.
That’s why we put it up on the front door: we’re a B2B agency specialising in those who target a niche and are very proud of it. And it is also why we rely on clients and our team’s recommendations for our growth. If you are good at B2B marketing to a niche, then your clients will tell others like them. It is what proud marketers do. And, in our case, has done since 2010. If you target a niche yourself and want to find out more, take a look at our site including our live client and staff feedback dashboards: www.velo-b2b.com