Companies that sell to businesses often rely on referrals to find new customers.
But the day may come when referrals aren’t enough. New competitors, new technologies, new types of customers, or new sales territories can create new challenges for your business. To achieve your goals – and capitalize on your opportunities – you need marketing.
If you’ve relied primarily on word of mouth to promote your business and you haven’t done much marketing, where do you begin?
Here’s advice on the first five things to do to create a smart business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy.
Business-to-Business Marketing: 5 Things to Do First
Many B2B service providers are successful businesses with a solid base of customers and a steady flow of referrals for new business.
But over time, these businesses find they need to raise their profile in the marketplace and develop marketing initiatives to address competitive challenges or achieve their goals for growth.
Companies like these often turn to my marketing consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio for help. Here are the first five things I advise clients to do to build the foundation for a smart B2B marketing strategy.
- Branding: You need a memorable brand identity to differentiate your company from competitors and communicate the highest value you deliver. Create a logo, a positioning tagline, and key messages to be used in all marketing materials.
- Website: Every prospect who considers your company looks at your website. Create a site that explains what you do and how you do it. Fill the site with content that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise. Invite response with a call to action on every page. Make the site easy to use and worth a return visit.
- Database: Your business needs an accurate, easy-to-access database of customer and prospect information for targeted marketing tactics like email and direct mail. Build your database using a platform that’s suited to your type of business and keep it current.
- Sales presentation: The B2B sales process often involves face-to-face meetings with prospects. You need to walk into those meetings with a great presentation of your capabilities. Develop an engaging PowerPoint presentation about your services and how you can help the prospect succeed. Later, you can add video and use more sophisticated tools, but PowerPoint is the easiest place to start.
- Sales collateral: When you leave a prospect meeting – and sometimes before you meet – you need to give prospects information about your company that they can review and share with others. Start with a capabilities brochure, then develop a carrier or folder with inserts for testimonials, case studies, biographies of your team, or a client list.
The Next Step: A Marketing Plan
After you’ve built your marketing foundation, your next investment should be a marketing plan that maps out tactics and campaigns like direct mail, email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, advertising, and public relations. You’ll then be ready to begin executing a smart marketing strategy.