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Marketing Tips for B2B Small Businesses

Business to business marketing differs from business to consumer marketing in two key ways. Firstly, you have a different kind of audience who know what they need, and are motivated by practical considerations rather than any emotional influences, therefore broad-brush marketing techniques such as TV advertising aren’t going to be cost-effective. Secondly, the process can involve an entire purchasing team rather than a single consumer, and may need to go through several levels of approval before any commitment is made. You also have a clear advantage in terms of marketing your product or service in that your target market is far more precisely defined. The key to successful B2B marketing is to recognize these differences and use them to your advantage.

Identifying your target market
This is far easier for B2B than B2C marketing, because you will already know precisely what kind of businesses are going to be prospective customers for your product or service. For instance, if you sell coffee beans, you’ll be targeting coffee shops that serve freshly ground coffee; if you sell Fairtrade coffee beans, you’ll be targeting the higher end coffee shops to start with, before looking to expand into the shops that currently only sell standard coffee. Therefore, you just need to do some research to find all the coffee shops that fit your profile before designing a campaign that will be aimed squarely at capturing their attention.

The B2B sales cycle
A non-business customer bases their buying decisions on a number of factors that can include the obvious such as need, price, quality, availability, and appearance, but they’ll also be influenced by their emotional response to an advert or communication. They might choose a washing powder because the scent reminds them of a happy childhood, or they might buy a particular toilet roll because they like the TV advert that promotes it. B2B marketing isn’t reliant on these less quantifiable influences; buying decisions are based wholly on the cost-effectiveness of a purchase, e.g. the cost compared to the quality and usefulness of the product, balanced against speed of delivery and customer service. Your clients will want to know these facts in detail, and it’s your job to present them with all the information they need.

Building relationships
This is a crucial element of B2B sales, as you want to develop your contacts, so they know and respect you, and will think of your business first when they need what you are selling. It’s much harder for a competitor to take business away from you if your clients know you well, as they won’t want to risk losing someone they can trust and rely on, and with whom they enjoy doing business. If you are accommodating and make your clients feel that they are special to you, they are more likely to send business your way when the time comes.

The role of online marketing
Websites and other online marketing tools like social media, directories, trade websites and organisations, are all important for B2B sales, but in slightly different ways than B2C functions. To start with, your business website must be very well-designed and fully functional, without being overly artistic. Remember, your customers want information that helps them make the best choice, not pictures of dolphins, or gyrating graphics. Clean, simple, and easy to use are key design principles for a B2B site. Any hint of lack of attention to detail, e.g. typos, or broken links and error pages, will give the impression your business isn’t as professional and efficient as it needs to be to win contracts. Your content should be well-written, informative and interesting. This is important not only to engage visitors to the site, but to capitalise on the algorithms used by search engines to increase your optimisation, and therefore exposure. There is a definite art to creating effective content, so if you want some in-depth information, click for more details on why content is so crucial and how to get it right.

Email marketing
This can be a very effective way of making contact with customers and encouraging them to take a look at your website. It acts as a polite introduction to a longer campaign aimed at getting your company recognised by prospective customers and show them how you can benefit their organisation. That could involve telephone calls or video link conversations, and face to face meetings with yourself or your sales representative to build up that all-important personal relationship. The focus of your email should be to grab the attention of the recipient, because unless they are interested in the subject line of your email, it will simply be deleted – no-one’s got the time to read an email that doesn’t immediately sound useful and/or interesting. Try to hone in on the influential factors that business buyers will be alert to, for example, get straight to the point and highlight some of your best prices, or lead with an exceptional element of your service.

Don’t mislead your audience
Once they’ve opened the email, they should get what they were promised, no catches or hidden clauses. For instance, saying in your headline that buyers will get a ten percent reduction on A4 paper, and then revealing in the body of the message that this applies to purchases over £50 will do you no favours at all. You might get a better open rate on your campaign statistics, but you’ll still have a poor conversion rate because your customer will simply delete the message after opening it instead of before. Honesty and accuracy are the best way to build trust and nurture prospective customers into becoming loyal clients who make regular purchases.
There are some obvious similarities between B2B and B2C marketing, and the underpinning principles are essentially the same. The key to getting your strategy right is to understand how the two models differ, and what that means for your communications. What you need to do to run a successful marketing campaign is isolate the methods that will be most effective in increasing sales, so that you can focus your efforts on the factors that are specific influencers on B2B buyers.

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