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Hospitality B2B Marketing: Debunking Myths, Revealing Truths

It's no secret that there are a lot of misconceptions about hospitality B2B marketing. From FOMO to skewed attribution, marketers are missing the point on how to move the needle effectively. 

We're here to debunk some myths (and reveal some truths) about B2B hospitality marketing and high in a recent conversation between Cory Falter, principal here at Lure Agency, and Susan Barry, president (aka "Queen Bee") of Hive Marketing, on the InnSync Show.

Let's Get Real About B2B Hospitality Marketing

First things first, what is B2B hospitality marketing?

Business-to-business (B2B) hospitality marketing is a term used to describe the marketing of hospitality products and services between businesses rather than consumers. This could include anything from hospitality tech and meeting space to catering services and event planning.

Susan says, "When I refer to B2B marketing, which is what my company Hive Marketing specializes in, I'm referring to one hospitality company selling to another hospitality company. So I'm not referring to hotels selling to business travelers or hotels selling to business conferences."

So what are some of the biggest challenges in B2B hospitality marketing?

Susan says, "when it comes to challenges, I think that B2B marketing for hospitality is very similar to the challenges in B2B marketing anywhere, and they tend to center around the attribution and ROI mindset. I think there is somewhat of an obsession with measuring B2B the way that one would measure B2C. So, if I put out this much effort, I should expect this many sales, leads, or whatever it is. And I just don't think that B2B works like that."

You can't measure B2B marketing the same way you measure B2C marketing.

Social Proof, Word of Mouth, and Dark Social in B2B hospitality marketing

One of the reasons it's hard to measure ROI in B2B marketing is that prospects tend to do a lot of "untrackable" activities.

The research process often includes talking to friends and colleagues (what we call "word of mouth") or looking for online reviews and testimonials ("social proof"). And much of this research takes place on what's known as "dark social" – private channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, email, and private groups on various channels.

It’s possible during the research process, a prospect asked friends and colleagues, got some suggestions, did a little behind-the-scenes research, and then reached out to the person to hire them. 

The point is when it comes to B2B hospitality, your prospect likely did not execute a Google search that landed them on a landing page with a form.

These untrackable activities are where the sales process really takes place.

Susan says, "by publicly demonstrating how I think and by making great connections when my prospects realize they have a need, they have already naturally discovered I'm the person for them."

RELATED: Supercharge Your Marketing with Social Proof: Here's How!

How to Get the Leading Edge in B2B Hospitality Marketing

Just as with every other industry, with B2B hospitality marketing, you want to implement proven strategies. But, that could be a double-edged sword.

Susan says, "you want to do a best practice, you want to do something that's proven, but there's no leading edge on that. Once everybody knows that it works, everybody does it. Whereas actually come up with something that has never been done before and it works, then you've got a leading edge there."

To have a leading edge in B2B marketing, you must be creative and innovative.  You have to be willing to take risks.

And that's not always easy for the hospitality industry. But it's something that you need to do if you want to stay ahead of the competition.

Cory says, "I think a lot of times people are afraid to be creative because they're worried about what other people will think. But the fact is, if you're not being creative, you're not going to stand out. And if you're not standing out, you will not be successful."

RELATED: How to Make Your Digital Marketing Less Digital

So, How Can You be More Creative in Your B2B marketing?

One way is to think outside the box when it comes to content.

One thing that makes content marketing so effective is that it allows you to target your ideal customer with very specific content.

You can create content that speaks directly to their needs, pain points, and wants. 

And you can do it in a much more targeted and effective way than traditional marketing methods.

Just remember, while organic content is not paid content because you're running ads, it's still not free.

Susan says, "you have to spend hours writing and designing and maybe videoing or recording audio or whatever the case may be. So organic content is not free, but it can drive the most results."

Cory adds, “with ads, the moment you stop paying to promote your content, your visibility dries up. However, when you create high-quality, targeted content, it has a much higher ROI.

“A prospect may be doing a search for something you've created content around, and your YouTube video will pop up, maybe your reviews, your social media posts,” Cory says, “and the prospect will think, 'gosh, they're everywhere, they must be an expert. This is how you can add a lot of credibility to your brand."

Just because your competitor is doing it doesn't mean it works.

One of the biggest mistakes that hospitality businesses make is assuming that just because their competitor is doing something, it means it's working. We’re here to tell you, that may not necessarily be the case. 

Cory says, "I think a lot of times in business, we tend to look at our competition and do what they're doing instead of really analyzing whether or not it's working."

This is a mistake because your competition may not be as successful as you think they are. Or they may only be successful in the short term or have a different goal than you.

Susan says, "maybe their goal is just to get their name out there, and they're okay with losing money on every single sale. But if your goal is to be profitable, you have to take a different approach."

To be successful in marketing, you need to focus on what's going to work for your business in the long term. You need to create a sustainable strategy that will help you achieve your goals.

b2b hospitality marketing

Where should hospitality B2B marketers put their focus?

The hospitality industry is changing rapidly. And as a result, the way that businesses market themselves needs to change as well.

Susan says, "I think it's interesting to track data such as followers, but measuring the overall health of the business versus specific numbers or particular things that people have gotten obsessed with within the company is a lot better way to tell if your marketing is working."

As marketers for the hospitality industry, we need to stop letting other industries take the lead in innovation and experimentation.

Susan says, "stop waiting for ideas and technologies to be proven by other industries and start taking the lead on things that actually impact us and that we can make a difference with."

"The hospitality industry has always been resistant to try different things," Cory says. "The thing is there are so many low-cost resources that can help us test things without spending a lot of money. We need to be expert testers because variables are changing all the time."

In Closing

Rand Fishkin said it best, "Best way to sell something: don't sell something. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.”

This could not be truer for B2B hospitality marketers! When you do this, you'll be able to close more deals and make more sales than ever before.

Looking to shake up your marketing strategy? Find out where you may have holes when you take our digital marketing assessment quiz >>

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