Marketing a business that makes products or sells services to other businesses is quite different from the techniques that regular businesses that sell to consumers deploy. That is because the audience for a B2B product or service is extremely niche and may not be specifically targeted using a regular TV or radio ad. For instance, let us consider that you are a business that sells waste water treatment tanks made with fiberglass. Your customers are likely to be other businesses that have manufacturing plants (where such waste water treatment plants may be required). It is a pretty needless marketing expense to advertise such a product through television or newspapers. The percentage of audience who are likely to need your solution is extremely low and this may not justify your marketing budget.
The solution in this case is to adopt a marketing technique that will give a high return on investment. There are a number of such marketing techniques, but the thumb rule to finding these platforms is this – identify the platform where at least 75% of the audience are likely to be your target audience. Advertise your product there. Here is a list of techniques that your business could use to target your niche business audience.
The first and foremost marketing strategy should be trade shows – specifically trade shows where your audience is likely to visit. As a matter of fact, for a lot of B2B businesses, trade shows often constitute more than 75% of their annual marketing budget. Signing up for a membership at a trade show does not come cheap. Having said that, setting up a trade show booth provides you with a great number of contacts and leads who could be converted. Depending on your product, a lot of these conversions turn into repeat customers thus helping you maximize your ROI over the long term. A recent survey conducted by the research firm ‘Jacobs, Jenner & Kent’ showed that trade shows are still being seen as an attractive way for B2B businesses to reach out to prospects. In 2012, 60% of the businesses saw an increase in the exhibit space sold while 58% saw an increase in sponsorship sales. Given these extremely encouraging trends, at least 51% of the marketers noted that they planned to increase marketing for these events.
Advertising On Niche Business Magazines
You may not have realized this if you are new to the business, but almost every business around has an industry magazine. Did you know there is a magazine specifically discussing waste water treatment related issues? It’s called the “Water & Wastes Digest”. So if you are a business that sells fiberglass made waste water treatment tanks, this is a magazine that you should be targeting. There are alternate ways to market your product through such magazines – you could explore an opportunity to be interviewed by the magazine, you could partner with the magazine distributor to offer a free DVD explaining your product to businesses that buy the magazine, etc.
Internet marketing has slowly and steadily become one of the most important platforms to get more B2B leads. By internet marketing, we are not referring plainly to an Adwords campaign, but an integrated approach towards website content management, blogs, SEO, SMM, social media and email marketing. Unlike B2C products that have several hundred searches on Google every single day, B2B products hardly see a handful of Google searches a week. However, people who approach your business from such searches are highly targeted and are very likely to convert. However, for the best return on investment, B2B businesses must not just rely on inbound quote enquiries and phone calls but also build a more sophisticated inbound strategy by engaging with the prospect. This may be done by providing relevant documents as a download that the visitor may read after providing their email and contact details. This will help you as a business to follow up with them and help convert more.
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In the beginning of this article, I had mentioned that traditional advertising platforms like television and radio may not work well for B2B businesses. While this is true to a large extent, this platform can be tweaked to provide high returns by picking the right strategy. Let us take the example of Intel. This is a company that manufactures processor chips for the computer hardware manufacturers. Traditionally, these businesses marketed their wares to the manufacturers and did not engage the end customer. However, Intel revolutionized the television medium by advertising their processor chips directly to the customer. What this did was make the end customer check for computers that had Intel chips in them. This forced more and more computer manufacturers to pick Intel for their chips helping the company build on its market share. There are a number of other B2B businesses where this strategy might work. For example, businesses that make steel rods for use in construction may directly market their products to people using television. The demand from customers will force builders to deploy the specific brand of steel rods.
Alliances & Partnerships
Finally, if you have already established yourself in the business to a moderate extent, then alliances are a perfect way to grow your business. Using this strategy, you may partner with other businesses (not competitors) who appeal to the same customer. For instance, a business that may require waste water treatment tanks may also require a chlorine supplier since this chemical is a necessary component in the treatment process. Consequently, if you are a business selling water treatment tanks, you may partner with chlorine suppliers in your area. This way, you may be able to reach out to their clients while at the same time allowing your partner to reach out to yours. In case you are a business that is just starting out, you could turn this barter alliance into a referral-based scheme which will allow your partner (the Chlorine supplier in this case) to ean a commission every time you get a successful conversion from their lead. Both these strategies employ a perfectly symbiotic relationship that will benefit both parties.
These are some of the tried and tested marketing strategies that have benefited B2B businesses. Think we have missed something? Please tell us in the comments below.