Winning businesses over and keeping them engaged isn’t easy when you’re a small- or medium-business (SMB). The business-to-business (B2B) sales cycle has slowed down drastically since the reduction of in-person, relationship-based sales.
While this has led to buyers ultimately making more informed decisions based on the product or service, it’s left B2B SMBs wondering how to stand out. Only 29 percent of B2B customers are engaged with the companies they do business with, according to Gallup.
While countless nuanced strategies exist to win and retain B2B customers, these six tips will form the foundation any SMB needs to be successful.
1) Make Your Website Easy to Navigate
The days of your company being propped up by a talented team of traveling sales professionals are long gone. These days, potential business partners are discovered online, and your website is the portal that makes or breaks your efforts. If someone visits your site and has a poor experience, they’ll likely leave with a negative impression of your brand. It’s that simple. If your current website is a detractor, learn how to make your own website without coding it yourself. Website services that offer customizable themes are more affordable and easier to change. It’s a no-brainer for any SMB with little bandwidth.
2) Tell Your Brand’s Story
Unless you operate in an incredibly specific niche, chances are there are other companies that offer a product or service similar to yours. To stand out, you need to highlight why your company is unique. Why should other businesses want to partner with you? Your brand is what sets your company apart. Your content is the vehicle to compel customers. If you stick with a strategy that differentiates your SMB, other businesses will take notice.
3) Engage Through Email Marketing
Email marketing is a must for any SMB. Not only is it one of the more effective marketing channels, generating around $44 of revenue per $1 spent, it’s also easy to measure. Email marketing yields twice the ROI as cold calling. It can also get your content shared by decision makers: 72 percent of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email, according to the Earnest Agency.
4) Provide Value on Forums
Sites like Reddit and Quora are hugely popular for finding information. Reddit has over 600,000 subreddits (communities), meaning there’s probably at least a few of them relevant to your niche. Over 3,500 questions a day are being asked on Quora about a variety of topics.
All sorts of people use these sites, including B2B decision makers. Become an authority on these forums about the topics you know. Don’t go overboard promoting your company. A simple title and company reference on Quora, or a link back to your business – if it’s relevant to your answer on Reddit – can go a long way in terms of driving organic traffic and spreading brand awareness. When we get help, we often remember the source. Providing a valuable perspective on forums is no different.
5) Don’t Forget the Trade Shows
It’s easy to want to shift your lead generation efforts online and focus solely on email. However, no marketing tactic has replaced the opportunity trade shows offer: to be in the same room with hundreds or thousands of your target customers. Trade shows are still the top source of B2B lead generation: with 77 percent of marketers saying trade shows generate a significant quantity of leads; and 82 percent saying they generate high-quality leads, according to MarketingSherpa.
6) Use Social Media Strategically
Social media isn’t as important a channel for B2B companies as it is for business-to-consumer (B2C). But engagement opportunities still exist on select social media platforms, like LinkedIn. In fact, LinkedIn’s responsible for more than 80 percent of a B2B’s social media leads! By providing valuable answers to people’s questions (like with forums but briefer) or posting content in specific groups, you can spread brand awareness. When you share content on your business’ main page that people engage with, you’ve just upped your credibility and authority as a company. Of course, LinkedIn can also be used in its true initial sense: identifying potential leads and reaching out.
These strategies, while effective, take time to plan and execute. Focus on perfecting your website and brand story. Once those are dialed in, go full steam ahead with the next four tips.
Be sure to bookmark Yahoo Small Business Advisor for more SMB articles and how-to resources related to web hosting, online marketing, and ecommerce.