Most B2B startups know that they need marketing, but they don't have the time for it. In fact, a lot of them don't even know where to start. On top of that, they don't really have the budget to hire any sort of expert. B2B marketing isn't any different. Besides, it can be a little intimidating at first. Especially if you are coming from an ROI standpoint. Like how does marketing even drive your bottom line? Is it even worth it?
Yes, it is definitely worth it. But you have to be careful the first time you design and implement a strategy. If you aren't you might risk your marketing efforts and watch in defeat as they fail miserably. Below are a variety of tips to help you design an effective marketing strategy.
B2B 101: Business To Business Marketing
Step 1: Pick One Thing and Do It Well
So you're looking to enter the wizarding world of social media? You want to dive into content marketing, design an e-letter campaign, and A/B test your website. Sounds like a killer plan - if you hire a full-time marketing staff to manage it, right? But if you're working without a professional, it's best to choose only ONE marketing activity to start with. The trick is to master it completely before moving on to the next.
Most small businesses try to take on way to much at any given time. This results in poor quality content across the board. Sure, you'll send out a few tweets here and there, write a few blog posts, create an e-letter. But in a few months, you'll notice that you can't keep up with it all. This is why you need to dedicate your time and energy to one thing to make sure it's sustainable. There's no need biting off more than you can chew.
Step 2: Automate As Much As You Can
You read it right. Go ahead and automate as much as you can and fill in the gaps whenever you have the time. Seriously, I cannot stress this tactic enough. There are tons of free tools that can help you streamline your social media marketing efforts. HootSuite lets you schedule all of your tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts for the week - or month ;)! Even MailChimp even offers a free automation tool that can help you simplify your e-letter marketing.
Don't think that just because you don't have the budget that you can't do it. Look at it this way... what is your brand worth? If even one hour of your time is saved each day, it's worth it. Don't let your budget dictate what you can and can't do. Take time to search for free services and automate your heart out.
Step 3: Define Your Success Upfront
How can you set your goals if you don't even know what you want to achieve? It's a good idea to start small. If you're concentrating on social media, go ahead and figure out the number of leads you'd like to gain in the first month. The trick is it make sure that your marketing goals are directly in line with your company's goal. Whether that's to make a certain amount of money in the first two months or build your brand's awareness to over 1,000 followers in a month.
Whenever you enter digital marketing without clearly defined goals, you're bound to falter. During your marketing efforts, you need to consistently ask yourself Is this working? Without any goals set in place, you'll have absolutely no idea.
It doesn't matter if you're a one-person business or a company with a small marketing department. You need to get your first inbound campaign off the ground at some point. It won't take long either. Just follow these four steps on how to launch your first B2B marketing campaign.
1. Create the content offer.
What matters most to your prospect? This is one question that you need to answer without batting an eye. Is your prospect a CEO in need of inspiration? A small business owner who needs actionable information? What is their attention span like? These types of questions should be used to dictate the type of content offer that you create.
Maybe that CEO would enjoy an ebook jam-packed with big ideas. Or that small business owner would just love a checklist or guide. A 30-second video would be great for those with short attention spans.
You need to know the value of your time and outsource any aspect that you're not comfortable with. Don't go overboard either. You can go ahead and have your initial content created by someone on a relatively inexpensive platform like Fiverr before spending tons of money on an expert.
2. Put the content on your website.
Magical things happen whenever you put your offer on the front page of your website. Once you do, take a screenshot, pair it with a contact form and you can start generating leads. If you don't have a website, look into WordPress. If you're interested, we have a beginners guide on how you can create one. Go ahead and take a look at part 1 and part 2 of how to create a killer WordPress site.
The main thing you need to remember when putting content on your site is to
The main thing you need to remember whenever you put content on your site is to think about what to put and what not to put at the forefront of your content. For example, it's a bad idea to put a sell-sheet or an ebook bragging about your company. It's not going to serve your purpose or end game. Your prospects will typically be annoyed if they open content and find it to be purely promotional. It's a good idea to stick to educational content at all times.
3. Promote your content.
You need to make sure that there are links to your content all over the web. This is crucial when it comes to inbound marketing. Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Take advantage of social media. LinkedIn is an awesome place to promote content. Add the link to a status update or write a blog post using LinkedIn Publisher. Don't forget to use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too.
- Leverage voices in your niche. Quote someone popular in your industry and ask them to share it in their network. You can even link to related articles and ask the source to return the favor.
- Check out Quora. this place is a killer resource where you can research your niche for future content inspiration. You can also write content based on the questions people ask there and then post YOUR content.
- Email your contacts. If you have an e-letter already set in place, go ahead and send your content to your subscribers.
Whatever you do, don't just place links with the title of your content. You need to make sure that your promotion is both relevant and thoughtful. A well-crafted message will feel personal and won't come across as spammy.
4. Generating prospects.
Once you've finished your first inbound marketing campaign, it doesn't hurt to continue to promote your content. However, the key is to keep it fresh - that's where you'll start to see results. This needs to be updated every 6-12 months. Just like everything else online, you'll have diminishing returns if you don't update, optimize and refresh your content. Great B2B marketing content is never done, it's something you have to stick with.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
If you're like most people, you might wonder how much of your budget - and energy - you have to give to social media marketing. And I get it. Social media is ever evolving. Who knows, maybe it isn't the best way to reach your specific target audience. However, there are several reasons why you SHOULD include social media as part of your B2B marketing strategy.
1. Social Media is great for building brand awareness.
A Facebook page or Instagram account can immensely increase your brand awareness. This helps to spread the word about your products and services. It also gives people an opportunity to learn about the projects you're involved in.
You might think that your target audience is so specific that it's a waste of time to share your content on social media networks. But this isn't always true. Even if your niche is super-specific you are forgetting that your target audience isn't only current or future clients. It also includes people THEY are connected to. Social media has a funny way of generating referrals like crazy.
Here's the thing: you never really know when or where someone will decide to buy your product or service. So it's a good idea to be available for them. B2B branding has a much broader target than you think.
2. It can generate more leads.
If one of your goals of online marketing is to generate leads, you shouldn't discredit the power of social media. It might not directly bring leads in, but it is a great way to promote your business every time you post. Whenever you share images, videos, etc. you have a chance to build an emotional relationship with your audience.
It also doesn't hurt to add strong CTA's (call to actions). This will make your campaign a lot more effective and thought-provoking. You can also post ads on Instagram and Facebook. Or get in touch with industry influencers directly through Instagram or LinkedIn. This is a great tactic because they can send referrals to your company or even become clients themselves.
3. Increase your website's traffic.
Social media marketing can also help you increase traffic to your site. Naturally, if you post something generic like, "Please visit my site!" you're probably not going to see people running in droves to your site. But if your content is engaging enough they might just click on your post and stay there for awhile. Especially if you have a good amount of interesting content on it.
Most people are eager to find valuable information online that will either save them time or money. So if you have anything like that to offer, they'll more than likely click on your link to learn more about your brand. This is really what makes the investment in social media worth it.
4. It helps to attract good talent.
Social media can also help you when it's time to hire/contract someone. However, if you post something too vague you might end up receiving a ridiculous amount of CVs. It's always a good idea to list specific skillsets. But don't forget to describe them in detail.
LinkedIn is a great place to look for potential candidates. However, you can still post on the platform you're most established on. Social media is also a great way to keep tabs on the people you think would be a good fit, but aren't currently looking for work.
5. Don't forget that your competition is there too.
If there's nothing else that can convince you that some type of social media presence is crucial, maybe you need to do a little research. Go ahead and see what your competitors are up to. Take note of their platforms and the types of content they post. You'll probably find that they're all at least on one type of platform. Whether it's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Some of your competitors might even invest in expensive social media campaigns. Even if you're unsure if you should try social media, it's worth thinking about. Surely there are still some clients out there for you too. Clients that are looking for exactly what you have or something that the others within your niche doesn't offer.
A lot of marketers think that every single piece of content they post needs to be deep. If that isn't your bag, I have some great news for you. Your content doesn't have to be super long or in-depth. When it comes down to it, it really just needs to be actionable. So how can you craft free content that will actually work for you? Let's take a look...
1. Create actionable content.
When it comes to B2B brands, it's a good idea to think about what your product does for your customers. And then take time to think about what related content can you create to make their lives easier. Perhaps you can provide an awesome checklist to help with certain aspects. Or maybe an ebook would work best. Whatever you decide on, make sure that it can be used in a tangible way.
2. Don't forget to prompt your best content.
A lot of companies tend to make this mistake: they spend far too much time creating a content offer, publish it and promote it for a week on Twitter. Then they go ahead and move on to the next campaign. This is such a waste and here's why. Good content promotion is something that occurs over a series of weeks, months, even years. Just because the content seems old to you, doesn't mean it won't be useful for months down the road. This is why evergreen content is one of the best types of content - it's always relevant.
3. Examine your website's conversions.
If a website is constructed properly, it will act as a lead generating funnel. If your site isn't generating any leads it's probably time to take a look at the conversion points. The goal is to make sure that you're giving prospects tons of places to identify themselves.
Below are a few conversion points to include on your site.
- Calls-to-action (CTAs) on every page with forms.
- CTAs at the end of every blog to lead them to a form.
- Related content offers on every page of your website.
- A resources page or library that has all of your content offers.
4. Take one strategy at a time.
Seriously, don't bite off more than you can chew! Choose one marketing strategy and make sure you master it before you move on to the next one. Don't lose hope or patience either - you need to give it time to spread its wings. So if you want to try Instagram ads, let it run for a few weeks before you abandon hope. Who knows, maybe you'll find that Facebook ads work better for you than Instagram. Take whatever you learn and use it to your advantage.
It's also a good idea to test whatever platform you choose for 1-3 months and then compare your results. No one wants to waste time on a social media platform that just isn't working for their brand. And remember, once you DO find an effective marketing strategy, don't forget to reevaluate them to make sure they're still working.