Which marketing will deliver the best results? What return can I expect? How much should I spend and where? These are questions many businesses ask.
Whilst it can be difficult to give generic answers for specific businesses, there are tactics and behaviours which massively increase the chances of success. And, the good news is they’re not hard to follow.
So, let’s have a look at our nine top tips to growing your business through B2B marketing:
1. Be strategic
Marketing is the most powerful tool in business. Often mistaken simply for how you publicise your products or services, it actually affects everything you do.
Customers don’t differentiate between your product, service, advertising, website or the person who answers your phone. Every element can affect their decision to buy. Strategic marketing is simply about ensuring everything you do meets or exceeds your customer’s needs and expectations.
Marketing is often broken down into the ‘Extended Marketing Mix’ or ‘7 P’s’:
- Product – How well your product satisfies customer needs
- Price – Using price to maximise customers and profit
- Place – The ease with which customers access what you do
- Promotion – The way customers are made aware of what you deliver
- People – How you serve customers and add value
- Process – Any procedures which affect customers
- Physical Evidence – Providing customers with a lasting impression
It’s tempting to skip straight to ‘Promotion’ and assume that the better you publicise your goods, the faster you’ll grow your sales.
However, if your service is poor, your product is overpriced, you’re slow to react to enquiries or your staff are unfriendly – promotion will only go so far.
So, before committing to greater promotional marketing, ensure the fundamentals of what you do are great too.
2. SWOT the opportunities
SWOT analysis has become a cliché but it’s a simple way to spot opportunities to grow through marketing.
SWOT involves looking internally at your business’s strengths and weaknesses – and externally at any opportunities and threats.
Recognising what your business does best is often something you can capitalise upon. For example, if your business has a great reputation for its speed of service, you could make it the focus of your B2B marketing.
Improving weaknesses could be the fastest route to success. For example, if your website is poor, you could make it the focus of your B2B marketing.
Chances are you’ve already identified some opportunities for growth. There may be a gap in the market or a new type of customer you can target.
Like weaknesses, threats can often be turned to your advantage. For example, industries are often threatened by new technology but being the first to embrace such changes could give you a competitive advantage.
Developing a strong USP is a vital ingredient of growth through marketing.
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is something a business communicates to help it stand out. It’s often the reason a customer will choose you over competitors.
Many businesses develop a USP organically. Over time they become specialists in a particular area or realise that customers choose them for a particular reason.
To maximise success from B2B marketing, it’s often best to proactively select your USP from the key attributes your customers look for. You’ll need to look at your competitors too and maybe identify gaps they fail to satisfy.
To be effective, your USP needs to be communicated every time you have contact with customers. It needs to be the main theme of your B2B marketing.
In reality, your business may not actually do anything particularly unique or outstanding. However, by drawing attention to your USP, customers will begin to identify your business with the qualities you want to promote.
4. Be consistent, be persistent
The world is noisy! To be memorable and effective, your B2B marketing needs to continually communicate the same simple and consistent message.
Whilst your business may have many strong qualities, focus your B2B marketing on the most important. Too many and you will dilute their effectiveness.
Customers are likely to be exposed to your B2B marketing in many ways – website, advertising, social media, direct mail etc. To maximise growth, keep your key messages and USP consistent for as long as it takes to develop the right brand reputation.
5. Maximise your return-on-investment (ROI)
‘If I invest this amount in marketing, what return can I expect?’ is one of the most common questions businesses ask!
Marketing should result in sales. Whilst some methods are harder to track than others, an increase in your marketing spend should result in a corresponding increase in customers, revenue or profit – given appropriate time.
When choosing your marketing activities, you need to evaluate the time, cost, and expertise needed and the likelihood of positive results.
For example, e-mail marketing is low cost but requires the right skills to be effective. Whilst advertising can generate a high return, it can also be more costly than other marketing channels. Social media is essential for most businesses but can absorb a lot of time.
It’s easy to over (or under) estimate the importance of digital marketing. Much will depend on the quality of your website which you lead people to. Fortunately, it’s easy to accurately predict volumes of potential visitors and the cost to reach them.
It may be more cost effective to get more from your existing customers, rather than target new ones.
So, the answer to the age-old question above is that the level or return-on-investment is directly proportionate to the thought which goes into your strategy…
6. Always create a brief
Whenever you (or your B2B marketing agency) create a piece of marketing, we recommend you create a brief first.
It simply needs to specify:
- What you want it to achieve (e.g. brand awareness, enquiries)
- Who the target audience is (e.g. their characteristics and needs)
- The key message it needs to communicate (including your consistent USP)
- What action you want it to encourage customers to take (e.g. visiting your website or making contact)
Without a brief, marketing is often evaluated on looks – rather than whether it will create the desired results. For example, many websites end up looking great rather than being effective tools for converting visitors into customers.
Once the piece of B2B marketing has been delivered, you can compare results against the brief and learn lessons for next time.
7. Benefits, not features
American Economist, Theodore Levitt, said “People don’t want to buy a ¼ inch drill bit. They want to buy a ¼ inch hole!”
Whilst the specifics of your product or service are important, your customer primarily wants to know ‘What does it do for me?’
For example, if a customer reads ‘long battery life’ they will likely translate this into being less likely to be let down by the device when they depend on it most.
Customers are more likely to see the benefits if you help them. Rather than the raw features of your product or service, focus your marketing on the resulting benefits which your customers value most.
8. Three critical elements
Growth comes from ensuring your B2B marketing is effective.
Whilst marketing must be visually appealing, modern and attention grabbing, it has a job to do. Don’t let design overshadow your marketing’s effectiveness.
b. Keep it Brief
Whatever B2B marketing you deliver, it’s likely to only be seen for a few seconds. Keep text to a minimum, use headlines to create impact and choose images which convey a lot of positive information.
Effective marketing should encourage a response. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action. This could be a simple reminder to get in touch – or a tempting offer to spur customers into action.
9. Monitor, evaluate, improve
Greater results almost always come as you refine your B2B marketing. Whatever marketing channels you use, you can often make incremental improvements so your investment results in more customers, sales and profit.
The more you can track your marketing, the more accurately you can evaluate its results. This is especially true of digital marketing.
A/B testing is a common tool. By trying two versions of the same marketing material or campaign, you can see which performs better.
However – particularly if your marketing is not on a large enough scale to warrant A/B testing – you should engage with a B2B marketing agency with the skills and experience to help you get it right first time….
Need support to get the results your business needs?
If the above sounds like quite a challenge, you may need help.
We’re East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency. If you need support with any part of your strategic, digital or creative marketing, we can help.
Just get in touch: https://www.fullmixmarketing.co.uk/contact/