Better B2B Marketing 42 - Using marketing to target the 5% of businesses ready to buy
Using marketing to target the 5% of businesses ready to buy

LinkedIn recently quoted that, in B2B marketing, only 5% of businesses are actively ready to buy at any one time.

Ty Heath, Director of Market Engagement for the work-focused social media platform, shared their ‘95-5 rule’ stating that, on average, 95% of the businesses you market to aren’t currently looking to purchase what you produce or deliver.

With most businesses keen to use marketing to reach buyers and increase sales as swiftly as possible, this could be an uncomfortable truth to accept.

So, is it true and, if so, how can you make sure the 5% who are ready to buy choose your business?

Are only 5% of businesses ready to buy?

First, let’s look at the central premise of LinkedIn’s ’95-5’ rule…

There is naturally a huge variance in companies who serve other businesses and organisations (B2B) and what they deliver – so some generalisation is probably understandable.

We presume LinkedIn meant buying in terms of a notable B2B transaction – such as a capital purchase, a new supply contract or some other ongoing relationship.

Whilst some businesses do frequently buy lower value goods or sundries – a bit like consumers buy groceries – this probably isn’t what LinkedIn had in mind. Instead, it’s likely they were referring to becoming a trusted or regular supplier who is turned to whenever there is a need.

Some relatable scenarios might therefore be:

  • a technical consultancy marketing its expertise to companies in the construction industry
  • an accountancy firm marketing its services to small-to-medium businesses
  • a machinery company marketing its equipment to major manufacturers

So, with these in mind, is it fair to say that only around 5% of the businesses they reach with their marketing would be ready to buy at any one time?

In our experience, yes.

Of course, this may depend on the accuracy with which their marketing targets businesses or other factors such as the economy or time of the year. It’s also likely that the bigger the purchase cost – or the more intense the supplier relationship – the less frequent buying customers may be.

However, it would not seem unrealistic to say that just 1-in-20 of their potential clients might be in a position to buy there and then.

As East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, it’s certainly a statistic which would ring true for most of our clients – and ourselves.

What is the point LinkedIn is making?

Ty Heath of LinkedIn’s closing advice was to:

‘Invest in lead-generation efforts targeting the 5% of people who are in-market today but don’t forget to invest far more heavily in reaching the entire category with brand advertising that resonates with future buyers’

Whilst LinkedIn did not suggest neglecting the minority of businesses actively looking to buy, they recommended much greater investment is made into increasing brand awareness amongst those ready to buy in future.

This may not be surprising given LinkedIn creates its revenue through B2B advertising on its platform – and some advertisers may question why they don’t get quicker or greater results!

Why is brand awareness so important?

There are some distinct differences between B2C and B2B buying behaviour which we’ve covered in previous blogs.

In brief, businesses take longer to select goods and services, are more rational and the decision often involves a number of people.

Businesses like to choose brands or suppliers which they trust – and trust takes time to form. As such, businesses often choose suppliers who are familiar.

Seeing a business’s regular marketing and advertising is therefore a very important trust signal for buyers.

Attracting the 5%

Successfully attracting the 5% of businesses who are ready to buy is often about being in the right place at the right time.

If a business is looking – be it online or through their network – you need to be the brand they discover, with a product or service which meets their needs.

Attendance at trade or networking events, social media advertising and PPC (Google Ads) can all be important tools and tactics.

However, no matter how good your selling proposition, you can still be at a disadvantage if your prospective client doesn’t feel trust in what you deliver.

That’s where long-term brand awareness pays dividends.

Satisfying the 95%

It’s fair to say that – though most businesses would love to target and convert only the 5% who are ready to buy – it is almost an impossible task.

In our experience as East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, LinkedIn’s 95-5 rule makes sense. Using your marketing to boost awareness of who you are and what you do, is the path to long-term and sustainable results.

Brand awareness is created by being seen in the places your potential customers frequent. This includes:

  • Social media – especially LinkedIn, through posting or ads
  • Google – by using SEO and PPC to ensure you appear in relevant searches
  • Trade websites and press – via PR (content marketing) and advertising
  • Trade events – either attending, sponsoring or advertising
  • Your customer’s inbox – through direct email or mailers
  • Your client’s network – by boosting brand awareness amongst their peers

Results may not be immediate – unless you happen upon the 5% who are ready to buy – but a consistent, persistent and sustained drip marketing campaign using many of these channels will be your fastest route to results.

Get more from your marketing

We’re East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, specialising in delivering a full mix of marketing for businesses who provide what they do to other companies, organisations and professionals.

As a full-service agency we can provide any element of your strategic, digital or creative marketing – and have extensive experience in sectors including manufacturing, engineering, technology, IT, logistics, construction and business services.

If you need any help with your marketing, get in touch here


Read more about LinkedIn’s 95-5 Rule: