Marketers’ roles are evolving. As a result, their reliance on B2B media providers as a channel is rapidly increasing. B2B media providers can help marketers access specific target audiences and craft compelling content and messages to engage those audiences. As audience information needs evolve, there has been a clear shift from traditional digital display advertising to content marketing solutions.

However, marketers don’t all behave in the same way and have different business challenges and marketing objectives. A one size fits all approach is no longer appropriate and will leave many marketers under-served, which for the B2B media provider means leaving significant value on the table.

Plural frequently conducts both in-depth interviews and surveys with marketers across verticals as part of its strategy work in the B2B media sector. We’ve also extensively analyzed B2B media customer sales order data over time to understand the spending behaviours of different marketer segments, where marketers are increasingly investing their budgets and how different marketers adjust to downturns.

For B2B media providers, understanding the needs and underlying behaviour of different marketer segments and tailoring the value proposition and go-to-market approach is key to unlocking value.

Marketer segmentation based on needs and behaviour

Multiple influences define marketer personas, but common factors include the following:

  1. Complexity of need
  2. The sophistication of approach and extent of in-house capabilities
  3. Size of marketing budget

Complexity of need

Marketers with complex needs typically operate in fast-evolving market segments. Their customers (the B2B media audience) will face complex business challenges, often requiring education to inform and advance decision-making. Their customers are often hard to reach and involve multiple stakeholders of different job titles and functions. The marketer is likely offering solutions which require education, consultative interaction and nurturing through the buyer journey. The marketer needs to develop the potential lead through coherent, rich content and messaging from top-of-funnel to bottom and engage with the lead across multiple formats. The marketer might also have solutions for various applications across verticals and must target multiple audience segments.

These marketers tend to invest extensively in multi-channel content early in the buying process to drive demand generation. They will tend to weight budgets (allocated to B2B media providers) towards content creation, content syndication, webinars and other demand and lead gen solutions. Although sensitive to downturns, this type of marketer is likely to reduce spending rather than completely cut spend on more effective marketing solutions. An enterprise tech solutions provider would be a good example.

Marketers with more basic needs are likely to serve more stable product segments, and their offering is likely much more established across their customer base. They likely know who their customer is and have an established market share which they aim to protect and grow. Ultimately their marketing focus is much more on reinforcing brand positioning in their industries. A leading auto lubricant provider would be an example.

Identifying and mapping the marketers with more complex needs by understanding the complexities of their audiences and the problems they are trying to solve for their audiences can lead to significant revenue growth for B2B media providers if they can demonstrate the value of more sophisticated content-led, multi-channel marketing solutions. Equally, knowing the marketers with more basic needs can help frame the conversation to propose appropriate solutions that fit the strategy. Both marketers with complex needs and more basic needs can upsell opportunities if their needs and what they are trying to achieve is understood by the sales and customer success teams.

Example: Plural assessed spend in a B2B market that was broadly split between established OEMs and emerging tech solution providers. The marketing objectives and spend on B2B media were starkly different: OEMs with established products and brands were focused on reinforcing market position and awareness, and the bulk of spend was still on digital ads; Tech solution providers were investing more in content and lead generation to communicate their message and seek out companies with a relevant need. In a downturn, the OEMs were much more sensitive to marketing budget cuts significantly reducing digital display spend and sometimes cutting lead generation spend completely. The tech solution providers would also cut spend but would continue to invest lead generation products such as webinars, content syndication and content creation.

The sophistication of marketing approach and extent of in-house capabilities

Different marketers will have different approaches to marketing, some more dynamic and forward-looking than others. Some will treat marketing as highly strategic and employ talent which will demand creativity and dynamic content formats such as video and sophisticated lead generation. These customers will be much more open to investing in innovative, tech-driven marketing solutions such as personalized AI tools. Others will have a much more conservative approach, be more reactive to market changes and apply more standard marketing methods.

In-house marketer capabilities will also vary, with some having extensive in-house teams, particularly around overall strategy, content strategy and content creation, and others much more reliant on external providers for support.

Size of marketing budget

Combining type of need and type of approach with size of marketing budget will help define and segment value potential in any given market. Mapping budget size, by using proxies such as company revenue against current spend will help B2B media providers to understand the total potential opportunity of different customers and how penetrated they are relative to top customers. This will allow the B2B provider to target upsell opportunities at the right customer profile.

Example: Plural has analysed numerous B2B media provider customers based on company size and spend with the provider. It typically reveals significant variance in the share-of-wallet of customers with likely similar needs.

Read our marketing spend outlook which provides a comprehensive view of both B2B and B2C marketing budgets across the UK and US.

Applying segmentation to the total addressable market opportunity

Applying segmentation to the total market opportunity is useful to understand where the value resides across the market opportunity, how penetrated the higher value segments are and what the headroom for growth is.

Example: Plural’s segmentation of one B2B media provider’s customers through in-depth interviews and a marketer survey allowed us to segment the total market opportunity and assess our client’s penetration of different segments. The work revealed our client was under-represented in marketer segments with more complex needs

The impact of needs-based segmentation

The combination of these factors and others helps creates marketer persona segments. This can allow B2B media providers to optimize the business in a number of ways:

Well-defined value propositions and a go-to-market approach built on data-driven segmentation can drive significant value in a B2B media businesses, both in the existing customer base and the broader market opportunity.

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