Marketing to businesses can require a different strategy than marketing to consumers. Business-to-business marketing (B2B) targets a more specific audience and therefore requires different strategies than business-to-consumer (B2C). Business owners and decision-makers are a niche consumer and they’re often shielded by layers of defense - secretaries, middle-management, unpublished email address and voice mail systems that rival homeland security. So how do you reach them? We’ve rounded up a top ten list of current B2B marketing tips to help you build your brand with the right decision-makers.
Figure out what sets you apart from other competitors selling similar products or services. Focus on improving that niche area and inform customers about the strengths and success of that niche. Be relevant to their world, have data to back it up and stay away from the same old boring conversation about price, quality and service. (yawn) EVERYBODY says they have this. What makes you different...truly?
Business decision-makers and owners hang out at different places. If you want to meet these people, you should too. Non-profit boards, country clubs, and service organizations are places to get involved...and not just to meet key people. Select the ones to attend based on your interests and get involved. If you’re only there to sell, you’ll be a turnoff. Be in it to serve, and you’ll attract new relationships.
People, especially business owners, are always on the lookout for quality information to help them grow, learn, improve themselves, their business and their employees. It’s about having quality content. Have answers to questions they are asking, and you’ll position yourself as a trusted source of information.
Sponsoring community events or organizations you care about is a great way to position your business as a brand that cares. For example, if your business wants to start taking a more environmental approach, then sponsor a green energy initiative conference.
People trust others opinions, sometimes more than the business. Business owners and decision-makers appreciate hearing about good experiences that their peers have had with a product or service. Testimonials build trust and credibility, and pave the way for referrals. They are great for social media, easy to share, and just make for good content overall.
Talk with the business owners you already have good relationships with, those who know and trust what you do. Ask them to introduce you to their peers for a simple “exploration” conversation. Remember, that a referrer is putting their reputation on the line by allowing you to use their name to contact a peer...so treat both with respect.
Being known for what you know is a tremendous platform from which to build a reputation. Work on 1 or 2 presentations related to your product or service that you can offer flawlessly. Then ask to be invited to speak at service organizations and events where your B2B audience attends. Be very careful to inform and not sell - the information IS your selling tool, one that builds trust if you don’t abuse it.
Traditional and digital advertising should never be disregarded. We’ve seen tremendous success come from branding campaigns in radio stations like news/talk and business publications where the content, and therefore the audience, is more B2B. Additionally, strategic digital advertising will also help you target a specific consumer with a specific message. This form of consistent branding is a priceless compliment to your other face-to-face activity.
Google yourself. Google your business. What shows up? We guarantee that the first thing a business contact will do, if they are considering a conversation with you, is search online. Most of us do. Make sure your online presence is solid. Build your profiles on social media, enlist the assistance of an SEO expert, put great content out there, publish testimonials and share your speaking engagements. In today’s world, trust relationships start before you ever meet a person face-to-face. If you don’t have much because you’ve never done this before...start now.
Just because something doesn’t turn results right away doesn’t mean you should stop. Relationships with decision-makers are built over time. Plus, things change and you never know when a business owner’s world will change such that, where they may not have needed your product or service before, they now do. Be consistent and be present when that change happens. It will pay off in the long run.
Marketing to business owners and decision-makers is a different animal from marketing to the general consumer. By implementing a few of these tactics, you’ll be well on your way. It takes time, strategy and consistency, but with a little work, you can get there.