In previous articles, we’ve discussed go-to-market strategies for selling your app to consumers, but as you consider the B2B market, how would your go-to-market plan need to differ? Since B2B means Business to Business, the key difference is that you’re selling your app directly to a business, or a person representing a business, rather than selling it to a person who only represents themselves. That’s going to change the way your customer makes decisions, and how you reach them. In this article, we’ll look specifically at go-to-market strategies for B2B apps.
Imagine that you’ve created an app to help dentists with scheduling reminders. It automatically generates reminder emails and texts, enables quick patient confirmation, and even allows the office to include additional promotional materials as needed. You can’t just post your app somewhere and hope they’ll find it and download it, and you can’t just market it like you would a game or a utility app—you’ll need to reach out to dental practices, in the places where they’re most likely to listen, and demonstrate that your product can help them to run their business better.
Know Your Customer—Their Responsibilities and Their Journey
In this example, your product is very specific to dental offices, so your primary target will likely be the dentist or an office manager working closely with the dentist. The general principles involved in knowing your customer—defining your audience, picking your channels, and customer acquisition—are mostly the same as they would be with a consumer app, but your B2B customer is more complicated because they have to represent their company, and the company’s interests, beyond their own. They also have a different journey than an individual consumer would have—with more external considerations and more focus on hard numbers. With a consumer app, you may just need to pique someone’s interest in a fun-sounding game, but with a B2B app, you have to understand how the app improves their bottom line or fits into their business plan.
Here are some questions to answer about your target customer:
ROI Is King
One key thing to remember is that business consumers are extremely interested in the return on investment, or ROI. Your app needs to solve a pain point in order to be worth their time and money, and you’ll need to be able to communicate that clearly to the business. For example, the appointment reminder app could cut down on potentially lost revenue due to missed appointments, while also freeing up the office manager to work on other aspects of the business.
Relationships are Key
B2B apps tend to use a subscription model in which customers pay a monthly or annual fee to use your app within their business. This is great for your bottom line—but because the cost is higher, and because integrating your tool will likely result in procedural changes within the business, the sales effort is also likely to be longer. All this is to say, relationships are a really important part of marketing and selling B2B apps. Business customers expect there to be ongoing support and communication, and you simply have to be able to talk to people and maintain long-term relationships for this business model to work. If the dental office signs up for a one-year contract, you might plan on quarterly updates, and be available to hear feedback and provide support.
Where Can You Find Them?
Finding the audience for a B2B app will really depend on the particular market or business you’re trying to serve, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
The Importance of Word of Mouth
We’ve already discussed the importance of relationships, but with B2B it’s also important to remember another kind of relationship—the one your clients have with one another. Word of mouth is essential, and it’s very likely that people within your targeted industry rely and trust each other to provide recommendations—and warnings—about products and apps on the market. You might want to give away samples or trials in order to get your app out there and earn good reviews. Start with a few dentists who might want to be early adopters, and offer them incentives for trying your product, and for spreading the word. You might even want to offer a specific referral program, where they can get a month free, or a discounted premium service. Reassurance from peers is important in every industry, and once people start talking about your app, it’s no longer unknown—and business owners will be more likely to try it.
Businesses are always looking to improve their efficiency and performance, so when you're marketing to a business—particularly a small business—make sure you keep those end goals in mind. How can your app solve their pain points? What will the benefits be? The increased vetting and focus on ROI might seem like a lot at first, when you're used to working on consumer apps, but building long-term relationships with targeted customers and developing high-value apps that really meet their needs can be a very satisfying path to success.
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