Secret Weapons for Business to Business Marketing Success

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Plenty of B2B businesses are overlooking cost-effective marketing methods. Lisa Shepherd, author of ‘Market Smart’ suggests five underused but valuable tools to help Canadian businesses gain customers and increase profits.

The great thing about these tools is that they’re fairly easy to implement and inexpensive, and at the same time can be remarkably effective in delivering your message to the people who need to hear it.

In modern marketing there are dozens of marketing tools for companies to choose from. Different tools work for different products, services and audiences. Still, there are a number of basic tools that a vast number of B2B companies aren’t using that can help them grow their businesses.

“The great thing about these tools is that they’re fairly easy to implement and inexpensive, and at the same time can be remarkably effective in delivering your message to the people who need to hear it,” said Lisa Shepherd, author of Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing and President of The Mezzanine Group. “Many B2B companies are guilty of not making marketing a priority, so they haven’t expanded their marketing tool kits beyond the basics like trade shows and brochures.”

Lisa Shepherd Shares Five B2B Secret Weapons:

*Secret Weapon No. 1: PR

Got expertise? Share it! PR isn’t hard to do, doesn’t cost much and can deliver excellent results both in building brand awareness and generating sales leads. Lots of B2B companies have a compelling story to tell, and there are trade magazines and websites out there looking for interesting, relevant content. But most B2B firms don’t even give PR a try.

The key is to get a few press releases out to print and online media that cover your target industry or profession. It’s not enough to issue just a single release. But if you stick with it, continuing to send releases to the media outlets that reach your prospects, and if you have a story that would genuinely interest these outlets’ audiences, you’re likely to get media pickup. That coverage is one of the best ways to get your company’s name into your target customers’ heads.

*Secret Weapon No. 2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Many companies haven’t changed their approach to marketing as much as they should given the amount of business that’s now being done online. Merely having a website is no longer enough. It’s essential to use SEO to drive traffic to your site.

If, like so many B2B firms, you’re not doing SEO, you’re missing a big opportunity to get the attention of your target market. Chances are good that some of your competitors are investing in SEO to ensure that potential customers searching online for solutions to their challenges will find their websites, not yours.

*Secret Weapon No. 3: Video

If a picture says a thousand words, a minute of video speaks volumes. For B2B companies with a complex product or service offering, videos can communicate a lot of information quickly.

You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg, or hire him to produce your video. Although you don’t want your video to look bush league, it doesn’t need stellar production quality in order to be effective. And whether you shoot the video yourself or hire a production company, today’s low-cost video technologies mean you don’t have to spend a ton of money to create a video that explains what you do in less than a minute.

*Secret Weapon No. 4: Free Trial Offers

If your prospects can try it, they’re more likely to buy it. Allowing your potential B2B clients to use your product or service for a free trial period is a proven sales tool, yet in my experience only a minority of companies do so.

Granted, this approach doesn’t work for every product or service. But it’s ideal for products such as software or high-margin items, ones in which a positive initial experience gives the prospect the assurance he or she needs to make the decision to start paying for your offering.

*Secret Weapon No. 5: Lead Nurturing

I know this seems like a really obvious tool, yet I’m struck by how many B2B firms don’t undertake a systematic series of contacts with their sales leads. Marketing research shows that it takes seven customer touches before someone will remember the name of your company and say, “Yeah, I think I’ve heard of these guys.”

The best way to manage those series of customer touches is by using lead-generation software. These automated programs let you send emails, newsletters, video case studies and more at pre-determined times to ensure that you get on your prospects’ radar and stay there.

You don’t have to blow your budget in order to do effective B2B marketing. There are plenty of smart, simple tools that offer proven ways to reach prospects and imprint your company’s name on their brains for the next time they make a buying decision in your product or service category.

So, the next time you’re planning your marketing budget, keep these five secret weapons (tools) in mind. You don’t need to implement all of them, because each is a stand-alone tactic, but the more they’re integrated with one another, the better - because in B2B marketing you typically generate better ROI when you integrate tactics.

*About Lisa Shepherd

Lisa Shepherd is the founder and president of The Mezzanine Group, a B2B strategy and marketing company based in Toronto, Canada. She has worked with over 200 companies to increase their profits through effective marketing, and has grown Mezzanine into a four-time winner of PROFIT’s Fastest Growing Company award. Lisa is a recognized expert on B2B strategy and marketing, and speaks and writes extensively on B2B growth. Her expertise has been featured in The Globe & Mail, PROFIT Magazine, 20/20 Magazine, The Toronto Star and The National Post.

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