If you are someone who is just getting into b2b marketing or a beginner who has been doing b2b marketing for a while, you’d know that it’s a bit daunting. And it’s more daunting and confusing if you are someone who is doing b2b marketing for an SME (Small Medium Enterprise) or a small business.
B2B marketing needs a different approach compared to b2c for reaching potential customers and a different strategy to promote and bring awareness to the product or service offered by business. The results from your marketing campaigns could take a little time to be seen as well.
In a SME, there’s not a lot of budget to spend on marketing campaigns, you need to prioritize your marketing efforts to achieve good results. This could take some time, but with the right approach you can definitely attract more customers to your business.
While there are a lot of ideas out there regarding what you can do to attract your potential audience, there are somethings that people don’t explicitly tell you about.
In this blog, we’ll look at some b2b marketing strategies for small businesses and a few things that you should do and a few things that you shouldn’t, if you are just staring out in b2b marketing.
I’m no marketing expert. These are just some things that I learned from my experience as a digital marketing manager for a b2b small medium enterprise. If there is anything that you think I mentioned wrong, please share in the comments below. I’m trying to learn as well.
Identify your acquisition channels
Identify what channels your visitors are using to come to your website or contact you directly.
If you want to come up with an efficient marketing plan, you really need to understand everything about your customers. What channels they are using to find and contact you, what’s their behavior like and what platforms & tools do they use on a daily basis in their work.
One of the ways you can easily find out how your customers are reaching you is by just asking them about it. In order to automate this process, you can use contact forms on your website to include a field that asks the visitors to enter how they found out about your service. And for direct phone calls or emails, you can make it a habit to ask your customers and manually add it to your list field.
A better way to do this would be to create buyer personas. Buyer personas help you understand all about your potential customers and fine tune your marketing strategies to achieve better results.
Hubspot has a free tool that lets you create buyer personas easily and they also explain more in detail about buyer personas in this article.
Once you’ve identified your acquisition channels, you can optimize your marketing plan to prioritize the channels that are bringing you actual customers.
Prioritize your marketing efforts and rethink your strategy
For an SME, whose resources are limited, focussing on the right channels can help you attract more customers from those channels rather than trying to promote your business on every social media platform and marketing channel there is.
Let me explain in detail with an example;
I work for a company that does team building events. If you don’t know what ‘team building events’ are, they are essentially corporate events organized to improve staff engagement and morale.
The company is a small medium enterprise with less than 10 employees, so we really need to prioritize the things we are doing to attain maximum efficiency.
We identified our main acquisition channels to be google search, google ads and client referrals. We also get a lot of repeat clients but I’m gonna focus on the main 3 now.
We understood that, although we are doing events for big clients, the actual contact persons in the companies are just using google search to find us. Social media or YouTube didn’t have much of an impact with regards to customer acquisition. People were clearly only focusing on what we have to offer in terms of our service on our website.
At that point, we were investing a lot of time on creating content for social media and YouTube every week. It did increase our followers a little bit on those channels, but like I said above, it didn’t have much of an impact on how people were finding us.
Although we were getting good leads from google search and google ads, we were spending a lot of money on ads and SEO, that we outsourced to another company.
In order to optimize that, we focused on improving our landing page experience and google ads targeting for better conversions. We also redesigned our home page to better suit the search intent of the customer and to target the particular keywords that we want to rank high for.
After 3 months, our google ads spend decreased by almost 40% and we were getting 30% more leads from google ads. Our website improved in rankings and was consistently shown in the top positions.
Since then our marketing strategy always prioritized google search and google ads as main acquisition channels and we used social media, YouTube and email marketing mostly for awareness campaigns.
Organic search is not dead
Despite what some people might be saying or what you believe, organic search is still the number one way for customers to find your business.
Implementing some good strategies in your marketing plan can go a long way for your business to rank higher on google for search queries related to your business.
Identify and track keywords that are related to your business and work towards getting to higher positions on google.
In order to get a good understanding of your website, which keywords it ranks for and how people are reaching your site, you can use a tool like ahrefs to do that.
Using those search queries, identify more related and similar ones. You can easily do that by just typing that search query on google.
At the company I work for, we used a simple excel sheet to keep track of all the important keywords related to our company
Once a week (every monday) we check the rankings on google by manually entering the keywords in an incognito window and noting down the index of the search result that our company website is shown at.
We then do a sum of all the indexes and check the score to previous weeks rankings. If the score is the same, then nothing changed, if it increases, that means our ranking decreased for a particular keyword(s). If the score decreases, that means our ranking increased for a particular keyword(s).
Sometimes it’s not so straightforward either, the overall score could decrease but it could be the result of one particular keyword ranking high on google and another keyword ranking low. So you have to also analyse individual rankings for keywords every week. We do that simply by color coding the numbers with red and green, for decrease or increase in rankings. [The lower the overall score is, the better the ranking is for your site]
Focus on networking more than marketing
One of the things I noticed at the company I work for is, the number one search query that people used to reach our website is actually the company name itself. It wasn’t an anomaly that occurred one time, it happened every month. Digging deep, we noticed that we get a lot of leads through repeat clients who liked our service and also client referrals, people who heard about our service from others. That’s when I understood that client experience and relationships are really important for SMEs.
Marketing in b2b small medium enterprises often has limited impact when it comes to customer acquisition. Most b2b clients give preference to a better known and respected vendor than someone new in the industry.
Focus on building long-lasting client relationships. Make that part of your business model. Those relationships could be really helpful when launching a new product or getting that high profile deal. And the best part is, networking is dependent on how you approach your clients, if you do it right, it’ll cost you nothing.
Content is still the king
In the above example, I mentioned that you need to prioritize your marketing efforts to focus on the channels that bring you customers. Marketing is more than just about customer acquisition. Being a b2b company, you can do several things that can attract people to your business and content is the main part of that game.
Take for example, ‘Atlassian‘, a company that sells project management software and various tools to help people collaborate and work better. They have a beautiful blog section on their website called ‘WorkLife‘. They post articles regarding everything related to working in teams. There are a lot of useful resources in those articles that can help others. And by doing that, Atlassian grew a user base just for their blog which they can use as a marketing channel to introduce their new products and services at any time.
It’s hard for a small businesses to build and develop their own marketing channels. But if you can streamline your marketing efforts, you can slowly build a user base for yourself that can be useful at any point in the future.
Try different things like blogs, videos, even podcasts to see where it is you can build a good following and be consistent in that process.
B2B marketing for SME is a niche area. I faced a lot of struggle when starting out in this domain. I hope this blog helps you understand a few things and makes it a little bit easier to navigate through your journey.