B2B Marketing – Should you be Online or Offline?
Think you know what works for your business? I’m sure you do to a large extent. But when did you last test existing versus new marketing approaches?
In my experience, most B2B businesses believe offline marketing techniques such as relationship marketing campaigns, face to face meet and greets, networking opportunities, industry events and word of mouth, present the only real way to win new clients in a business to business environment.
All this ‘online marketing talk’ about SEO, PPC, social engagement and content marketing is for fluffy businesses with big budgets and time to waste, right?
It’s no longer about using offline and online channels as separate entities, but combining the best of both to generate positive return on investment for your business. This applies to both B2B and B2C marketing strategies.
How to Approach Your B2B Marketing Strategy (it’s actually easier than B2C)
Despite my observation above, B2B and B2C must be treated as distinct market categories. Certain channels or techniques that work for one won’t necessarily work for the other.
At first glance, B2B can seem the scarier of the two because more often than not, a client is worth much more to a business than a consumer, and traditional offline marketing approaches are generally more expensive and harder to measure. This is largely why in B2B marketing, the emphasis is on quality of leads not quantity. B2C companies tend to lean in the direction of very high volumes and low revenue per purchase – so enormous demand is usually necessary.
We generally understand more about potential clients than consumers, i.e. who they are, what their job is and typical buying behaviours. Therefore B2B marketing activities can be highly targeted, reducing the influx of unqualified leads thus increasing attraction/conversion rates.
B2B companies have been slower to embrace online marketing because of reliance on pre-existing knowledge and understanding of their clients and what has/hasn’t worked in the past. But things are changing.
B2B businesses are starting to incorporate online activities into their marketing plans. These businesses are casting the net wider; identifying new opportunities and exploring new markets, whilst ensuring that they are catering to the ever-changing needs of existing markets where target audiences are moving online to justify purchasing decisions.
Getting Started with B2B Online Marketing – Top Tips
Tip 1 – Get Blogging!
In a B2B environment, you’re communicating with like-minded professionals so it’s essential that you establish yourself as a thought leader. By providing interesting, relevant content you will position yourself as an industry expert and gain respect from your followers.
Blogging is probably the fastest way to build traffic and inbound links to your company website. It’s simple – the more a company blogs, the more new customers it attracts. Switch from monthly to weekly blog posts and see the impact for yourself. By building a portfolio of good content on your blog, you become more searchable online and are more likely to appear on results pages when a potential client looks for information on your services.
To start with, look at industry trade magazines to see what’s topical and monitor your competitors to follow what they’re blogging about. Why not write an opinion piece on new legislation, conduct an interview with a key industry influencer or put together a ‘how-to’ article that answers frequently asked questions.
And lastly, ensure your posts are topically diverse and be sure to get exposure across all social channels – get it out there!
Tip 2 – Get Linking In!
LinkedIn is the number one B2B channel. Every professional should have their own LinkedIn account irrespective of industry, and from this account, you should create a company page and/or group to encourage engagement and display your content.
Traffic from LinkedIn is generally considered to be of higher quality than traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are mass audience exposure platforms where volume is achieved over quality, and the audience is far more diverse in terms of what people are expecting to get from that particular platform (namely for fun, personal use).
LinkedIn is a professional network for business people, meaning that you are capturing an audience focused on corporate information sharing, networking and employment/partnership opportunities.
Remember to reply and engage with every group comment daily and include a link back to your website. Regularity of content promotion is key, whether it’s created or curated, and focus on addressing the needs of your client rather than selling your brand or product –the shift from self to consumer focus is paramount.