At Two Lizards, where we love and create vibrant and very effective business-to-business marketing and advertising. Expertly done, B2B can be a powerhouse, but overworked and jaded business owners/managers/admin staff are not easy to target, reach, convince or motivate. Blasting them with digital media isn’t the smartest approach. So how should you go about it?
1. Get your sales cycle sorted
Look at who actually buys what and when. Take examples where you’ve made a sale and work out how it happened. How did the company get to know about you? What communication convinced them to get in touch? How many communications did it take – how many telesales calls for example? How long till they placed an order? How senior are they and what type of person? Start to build a model of what seems to work best. This may call for some honesty. We all like to think a business to business sale is purely down to our marketing efforts but it’s just as likely your best client heard about you from a friend at a party. If so, see (6.) below.
2. Big fishing net versus small but perfectly formed fishing net
There are businesses where a me-too product, a hugely competitive sector and the size of the potential market make a numbers game the logical approach. Office supplies companies for example. But smaller, niche businesses usually have the advantage of being tailored to a very specific market. Building a database of enquirers and profiling them to see what type of business they are and what type of person the main contact is means you can tailor your marketing messages to speak more directly to them.
3. Empathise and sympathise
Most if not all business to business products and services are designed to make life easier for the business which buys them, either by saving them time, effort, money or a combination of all three. This is as true of corporate healthcare as it is of catering or outsourced accounting services. Plugging into the overworked/overcomplicated/cashstrapped mindset is and always will be a great way to introduce your products or services to a new potential customer. But …
4. You need to make it stand out from the crowd
As your competitors (if they have any sense) are doing the same, it’s the way you give them the message that’s vital. Say it with humour, ingenuity, startle them with statistics, make them a promise or offer a guarantee. Or do all these things and more. These people are tired, may need coffee to stay awake as they go through their post and emails and answer the first calls of the day. They will probably have trouble convincing their boss that you are worth a second look. Make their first (or ongoing) communication from you not just memorable and convincing but enjoyable. Which leads us back to that fishing net …
5. Think about the medium as well as the message.
How are you going to get them to sit up and take notice? There is more than one way of doing this. It could be you select your very best business to business marketing prospects and send them something intriguing they’ll want to keep on their desk. Perhaps you drip-feed them intriguing messages with astounding facts by email or through a series of trade ads. Or you make personal approaches and simply refuse to give up. A colleague claims to have made over 25 sales calls to the same manager and was politely but firmly told to go away for at least three months until ‘suddenly she said yes, now’s a good time to talk.’ The result, since this was corporate insurance, a £1.2 million contract.
6. And finally … B2B is a medium or long distance race.
Most business to business works around lead generation and follow up, with cycles that can vary from a few days to a few years. Unless your business makes one-off sales with no option to cross sell other or new products (which is unusual for B2B) long term communication and customer retention programmes are essential. Go back to (1) your sales cycle. If it looks as if it takes six months from first approach to getting a lead and developing that into a sale then start by thinking how you can make that work harder and faster, for less. And as for the friend who heard about your business in the pub, that needn’t be a problem. If people are out there recommending your service and businesses, they are the best sales reps money can’t buy. Make sure you thank them. Keep them in touch with new developments in your business. If appropriate, reward them for leads and incentivise them to get your more. As they say in China, who cares if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice?
You can see an example of our business to business advertising and marketing here. We love it! If you’d like to talk to us about marketing your business to other businesses, why not email us now for an informal chat or call us on 01306 621001.