Promotion in B2B Markets

Promotion is the communications part of the marketing process. Here are the main promotion techniques:


1. Personal selling - flexibility and immediate feedback are its strengths, but it is expensive;

2. Mass-selling (subdivided into advertising and publicity) - it is inflexible but can be less expensive;

3. Sales promotion - coupons, discounts, trade-shows, sponsorships and so on.

Traditionally sellers, who target business customers usually emphasize personal selling. One of the reasons for this is that their customers might have technical questions and may need adjustments in the marketing mix. In order to meet adequately these needs, business-to-business sellers look for promotion tools, which provide immediate feedback and the possibility for bi-lateral communication, which personal selling offers. Since the target market in industrial marketing is not so large and individual customers bring more value in comparison to consumer marketing, the companies can afford to use personal-selling as their main promotion tool. Two tendencies deserve special attention in the management of personal selling:

1. The emergence of the partnership role for the sales people

2. Key account management. If we apply here the Pareto principle it is highly probable that 80% of our income will come from 20% of our customers


Sales-promotion is also very often used in B2B marketing, in its various forms like:
Price discounts - targeting immediate results;
Gifts, calendars, catalogues - targeting building long-term relationship with the customers and Trade shows, exhibitions and seminars – providing the opportunity for bilateral communication
From the mass-selling promotion tools the marketing literature traditionally recommends for business-to-business marketing mainly:

  • Direct response promotion, like direct mailing, which is used for leveraging the high costs of field sales and for reaching marginal accounts which may not be profitable enough to contact through a face to face visit (Stone, B.; Jacobs, R. 2001).