Making sales is a mark of success for any company, but as a small business owner, attracting customers into the sales cycle can be difficult. It can even be more challenging in the B2B (business-to-business) context. Tools like a Facebook page, website, email newsletters, content marketing, HARO (Help A Reporter Out), and even other sales-generating efforts can only go so far, especially when dealing with other businesses who need to be your clients.
It can easily feel like every lead, engagement, or sale requires you to exert more effort than necessary. You’re not alone.
As small business owners navigate through today’s uncertain landscapes, finding the right tips and tricks can make a lot of difference.
In this article, we take a look at strategies to help you gain a market sprint over competitors, and how you can harness the essence of a seamless campaign to overcome the nuances of B2B marketing.
Let’s discuss customer service, content marketing, and other unconventional marketing methods.
Understand the Relationship Between B2B and Customer Service: The Foundation
How do B2B customers connect?
Customer service is one of the heaviest parts of any business, and most treat it as a critical factor to success.
You already know that drill—in the B2B world, client experience is the creed. There are more people you need to impress, for example, making the stakes even higher.
Each sale you attract holds unimaginable value, and each item you close ensures that you remain relevant in the marketplace.
Once you get it right, you can also knock everything else out of the park—content strategy, social media marketing, digital marketing, lead generation, and every marketing strategy you know can help your B2B reach better heights.
The question now stands—how do you create a better experience for your current customers and prospects alike? Here are some of the best ways you can connect:
Keep Things Human for Business Customers
The business-to-consumer industry thrives on automation and self-service, but the opposite reigns in the B2B world. Keep in mind that your clients expect you to be physically present, meaning that your client services must reflect a human connection.
Although automation provides quick access to information, the answers they usually want require digging and probing deeper to arrive at the best possible solutions.
That said, make sure that your deflection methods appeal to your business customers by adding options of phone calls. However, your sales team should be trained properly, allowing you to avoid automated phone responses.
Should you wish to implement automation, however, you need to be smart about your content. Make the responses feel human, so they won’t seem like cold chatbots.
Actively Listen to Client Feedback
Apart from being human, it’s also important to remain proactive as a B2B owner. When you receive feedback from a client, for example, make sure to respond properly. Your sales reps must give attention to any insight, constructive or otherwise.
Most B2B companies would end up rolling their eyes and dismissing such feedback, as you only have 24/7 to deal with growth, sales cycles, and other pressing matters. However, a business is only good as its clientele network! To build a strong one, you need to learn to listen, analyze, and then act on feedback. A small brand in the B2B world that listens to clients is bound to gain more business customers!
Invest in Content Marketing Strategy: The Muscles of Your B2B
How can you get B2B customers online?
Apart from building a good client feedback system, you also need content among other digital marketing strategies to reach B2B customers.
This essentially pertains to the action of creating and publishing content, all designed to capture interest, raise brand awareness, gain traffic, generate leads, and essentially thrive in the digital marketing space.
Some of the best marketing strategies of content include blogging, creating infographics, search engine optimization (SEO), podcasting, email marketing, and doing outreach through HARO.
But how exactly can you harness the power of content in the business-to-business world?
The first step is to learn the qualities of good content. Consider applying these to your current marketing strategy:
Easy to Read
Your target audience is other business owners. This means that they may have little to no time to read content, as they’re busy running their own business.
They’re still your clients, however, so how do you catch their attention?
Whether you’re running a company website, Facebook page, or other social media platforms, you need to make your content as compelling as possible—but in bite-sized pieces. Come up with brief stories and make the style conversational. Anything less is likely to be skimmed through and ignored altogether.
Easy to Recall
When it comes to building a winning content marketing strategy, you need to once again tap into humanizing content. Here, stories and a sense of humor will come in handy.
You need to package your small business into something easy to remember, so do away with numbers and focus on your quirky origin story. Create sales copy worth remembering, with a witty pun or joke in between. Keep your research filed away—focus on entertaining information.
At the end of the day, however, it’s also important to remember to stick to your brand. Focus on building a brand personality that works best for you, as there’s no need to force anything that doesn’t work.
Easy to Share and Believe
You want to target decision-makers and professionals, so your content marketing strategy must appeal to them enough to make sure they spread the word.
Simply talking about your offers just won’t cut it—they need to see value and authority.
When it comes to writing good content, erring on the technical side is also necessary. While being creative, catchy, or humorous can help you stand out from the rest, sustaining credibility and authority requires the help of SEO.
SEO entails thorough research and a comprehensive understanding of your target audience, but knowing how to choose and use the proper keywords is also necessary. SEO can only be as good as the tools you use alongside it.
One of the best ways to support your SEO campaigns and build authority is by doing journalist outreach through HARO.
HARO is a platform designed to help experts and journalists connect and build long-term relationships. You can share your expert thoughts and insights and help journalists create their stories and articles.
It’s simple: journalists post HARO queries and you answer them and offer your relevant expert insights.
When a journalist chooses your pitch, you are quoted and credited, which is what you need to strengthen your authority.
Getting quoted means backlinks to your website, helping you rank on SERPs and generate traffic and leads.
Learn How To Reach B2B Customers: The Unconventional Ways
A small business needs to be focused and driven but must also have a deeper look into its weak spots. To overcome your current selling and lead generating challenges, here are some things to consider:
Recognize That B2B Businesses Have More Complex Issues
In the B2C industry, processes and systems are straightforward. A lead enters the pipeline with one goal in mind—to purchase an item they deem desirable, interesting, or necessary.
Once they recognize the advantage that the brand brings, they engage. From there, the B2C business can finally sell.
Should issues arise along the way, a consumer can easily reach buyer support for refunds, damaged items, or shipment statuses. They can do so on numerous platforms—email, phone, chat—and get what they need.
In the B2B industry, however, processes can be a little bit more challenging. Client services, for example, demand a technical solution that goes beyond refunds and returns.
Being in the business-to-consumer industry means you’re selling more than just goods—you’re also selling expertise, technique, and value.
If you’re in the B2B of printers, for instance, you likely sell them to companies across the country.
Suppose that a client buys at least 30 units for their office space and they come across problems, they will need you to come over for issues like IT security, network configuration, software troubleshooting, and so forth.
And how do you provide this, exactly? By contacting the printer brand’s own support team.
That said, it’s important to recognize this fact early on—you will need to invest time and energy in moving back-and-forth between the businesses you serve and your supplier.
Building a B2B client experience team means investing in agility, patience, and a winning attitude to ensure solid solutions to help resolve complex customer issues.
Build Relationships with Other Small B2B Owners
In business, success comes in various forms. More often than not, however, it begins by identifying your core focus.
What does this mean? Not only should you work on your internal business values, but your core focus should also reflect outside your consumers and alongside your networks.
Simply put, make sure you’re also working toward building relationships with other small business owners.
You’ll want to establish rapport with people working on the same goals, so long as they don’t directly compete with you.
It’s also important to establish business relationships with professional services, consultants, and other B2B entrepreneurs you know can help you build trust and authority.
One of the best ways to build a good network is through referrals, especially from your best clients.
However, keep in mind that referrals are only made possible with trust, so it’s important not only to pursue connections but build lasting ones.
Here are some cultivation tips to think about:
- Be honest and upfront about what you need from other businesses.
- Consider shifting your focus to the fun side of the business world—have fun with other professionals, sales teams, local businesses, and even potential customers. Go on brunches, go golfing, and attend cocktail parties.
- Expose your networks to other potential clients.
- Provide discounts, tips, information, gifts, and above all, your expertise.
Summing Up: Digital Marketing for B2B
Although the B2B and B2C landscapes seem quite similar, especially considering that clients pay you for your services or products, the systems within are different.
For one, business-to-business can be incredibly complex, especially in terms of customer relations, digital and content marketing, audience, and prospects building.
Your B2B customers, both existing and prospects, expect you to invest your time and attention into providing solutions and overcoming challenges that arise along the way. They’re less impressed with pure automation and chatbot responses and wish to be attended to by a proactive business.
When inquiries come in, focus on answering with intention. Your social media pages should be manned by a good and attentive sales team, even with the prospect of waiting a little longer.
You’ll want to keep your business approach as human as possible, where your content marketing is injected with humor, interest, and a good narrative. You’ll also want to go beyond the digital marketing space and look for ways to connect with prospects, local businesses, and other professionals you can build a connection with.
The idea here is to take care of your customers. In doing so, they take care of your company—even as a small business owner. You’ll be rewarded with fruitful relationships, a strong brand, and better outcomes of the sales cycle.
In the B2B world, you’ll attract more clients by creating a synergy of comprehensive digital content marketing, customer service, and long-lasting relationships.