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Business-to-business advertising, also known as trade advertising, is a form of promotion by one company that is oriented toward other companies or businesses. As such, the main objective in business-to-business advertising differs somewhat from consumer-product advertising. In most cases, trade advertising seeks to find a way to show businesses what value a certain product or service can add to their end products. This may be in the form of promotion, or may be in the form of efficiencies that can be realized in production.
A great deal of business-to-business advertising is done in trade publications, where there is a captive audience looking for new ideas to create both awareness of the product and efficiencies in producing it. For example, a printing company may very much be interested in a new printing press, better ink, or paper. Those who can supply these products to the business may focus on how their products or services may be cost effective compared to current equipment or methods.
To a lesser extent, business-to-business advertising may be done through broadcast media. In most cases, broadcast media reach a more general audience, and thus may not be cost effective. In some cases, such as shows relating directly to business, it may be possible to reach a large enough audience where these media are effective. If that is the case, it is usually programming that is closely related to the business that utilize the show for advertising, such as those promoting brokerage services or business infrastructure.
As with most forms of advertising, there are four specific things that business-to-business advertising will likely address. These include product, placement, price, and promotion. These are considered the four Ps of marketing. The advertising describes the product, perhaps explains where it can be purchased, and promotes its benefits. Advertising may not discuss pricing directly, but will often allude to why it makes sense to purchase the product from a cost perspective.
One technique business-to-business advertising often employs is that of the customer testimonial. This involves finding a customer who has utilized the product or service, and having that person explain the benefits. This is often very effective from a business standpoint because it shows other businesses what they can expect.
In many cases, real-world customers may be given a discount on the product if they provide a testimonial. This must be factored into the cost of business-to-business advertising, but could be a much cheaper way to go. In addition to not having to hire actors, the company does not need to come up with a great deal of expensive ad copy.