Getting started in B2B marketing can be a daunting task, as it spans such a huge range of channels and media – all of which will vary in effectiveness from company to company and will depend on the particular business niche.
Every business needs its own bespoke marketing strategy to ensure that the right audiences are being targeted, over the right channels and at the right time. There are two core marketing methods that can be used – inbound and outbound.
Inbound marketing is about drawing customers towards the business on their own terms. It is about using tactics that will help potential customers ‘find’ the business, rather than pushing to get in front of them, like outbound marketing does.
Success in inbound marketing comes down to creating and sharing content that potential customers will actively be seeking and which will then pull them towards the company:
Content marketing is a key tool used by most inbound marketers. The idea is to produce interesting, relevant and educational content that will be of value to the target audience. This content is then hosted on the website and shared, helping to generate leads and nurture them at every stage of the buyer journey.
The content should cover problems that a potential customer may be facing and offer advice and potential solutions. It should never be salesy. The aim of the content is to get the company in front of buyers early on in the sales process, when they may not yet be considering buying but are researching an issue.
Different types of content will be required for different types of buyers and also for each different stage of the buyer journey. The key to success here is offering the right content, to the right person, at the right time and always including clear next steps to help guide the lead down the pipeline.
Social media marketing (SMM)
SMM is the process of spreading awareness for your product or brand via social media channels. The way you do this is by creating shareable content and also interacting with customers directly.
A strong brand presence on social media is important, not only to keep your business in the forefront of people’s minds, but also to gather and collate opinions, data, feedback and potential complaints. Making customers feel like they’re being listened to goes a long way. By dedicating resources to social media marketing, you can impress potential customers by responding quickly and succinctly to their questions and comments.
Email marketing is the act of identifying and contacting potential customers by email. By nurturing potential customers with relevant email content delivered at the right time, you can draw them further down the sales funnel, towards a potential purchase.
Email marketing can also be useful for building brand loyalty and trust over time, as well as cross-selling to existing customers.
Getting face-to-face with prospects and potential leads remains one of the most effective forms of marketing around today. Getting face-time with potential clients and forming in-person bonds is important, due to the lengthy sales cycle and multiple touch points required in B2B marketing.
Event marketing can be utilised in a number of ways. For example, you may host your own in-person event, or attend a relevant trade show that gets you in front of people who are going to be a good fit for your business. This audience will, after all, have made the decision to attend and may also have paid to be there.
Outbound marketing refers to channels which push messages directly in front of potential customers. Due to the interruptive nature of these types of tactics, many marketers are moving away from them in favour of inbound marketing techniques. However, a combination of inbound and outbound can be highly impactful.
Outbound marketing tactics include:
While this medium may have dipped in popularity, if done well it can still prove very effective and often feels more personal than its email equivalent. The success of any mailer relies heavily on how well written and targeted the copy is. Personalisation is also a huge factor. As with email marketing, the biggest hurdle is getting recipients to open the mail in the first place. Think carefully about the materials you will use and what they will say about your brand. You may also consider including a small free gift that your recipients will find useful or noteworthy, to increase the likelihood of them opening your mail.
When placed in the right magazine, journal or equivalent, print ads are still a viable way to reach a specific target audience. Use the knowledge you have gained through your other marketing channels and from existing customers, to identify where the best print ad opportunities may lie. Make sure you use your buyer personas to tailor your messaging, as the more closely matched you can get it, the more successful you are going to be. Being eye-catching and relevant is a must, as it is the visual appeal of a print ad that will get someone to stop and read on.
This sales technique has been the go-to tactic for generations of marketers but it’s now harder than ever to make an impact. Modern technology means calls can easily be screened and blocked, which only adds to the challenge of getting to speak to the right person. Therefore, it’s important to look at ways you can make your cold calls more effective. Hitting the phones still has a valid place within the marketing mix, but if you can concentrate your efforts on warm leads, the results will be far better.
Never underestimate the power of having a strong network of contacts to leverage. Jump on every opportunity you can to meet new potential contacts and start building links. Get proactive. You never know who you might meet, who they may in turn know, and also where they may end up in the future.
To market effectively, you need to find the right balance of marketing channels, which will allow you to reach the people who are most important to your business. This requires a comprehensive marketing strategy, as well as detailed buyer personas.
Avoid hitting every channel at once, as you risk stretching your resources too thin and will have greater difficulty tracking the results, which is important as you need to know what’s working and what’s not to be able to improve your processes. Instead, test 1-2 methods at a time, ensuring you have put processes in place to measure the return on investment you are generating. Only once you’ve refined these channels should you then think about adding some additional ones.
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