We all know that Romanians are great at two things: football and politics. There isn’t a person in this country who doesn’t have an opinion on both.
Well, lately I’ve realised that we need to add another area to the two: business, and especially marketing. And if you talk to someone you don’t know, they’ll probably tell you some ideas about how to promote your business and what the marketing is all about.
But if you’ve tried a few marketing campaigns, you know how hard it can be to get real results. And business to business (B2B) marketing is even harder.
For one thing, the cycle of turning a stranger into a customer is much longer, sometimes even several years. Then, it’s often hard for us to measure the success of some campaigns. How do I know if what I’ve done this month is good, when I’ll only see the exact results in a year? I’ve increased traffic to the site, but how will that affect sales?
But there are ways to solve these problems. And with a little communication within the company and a focus on measurement, we’ll see that B2B marketing isn’t so bad.
Next, I want to show you what, in my view. the best B2B marketing strategy.
Enter content marketing or content marketing.
At a basic level, content marketing (or inbound marketing) is an approach to marketing where you provide value to people, and later they will end up buying from you. Providing value means answering a question that matters to people or helping them solve a problem, for free.
How and why does content marketing work?
The Internet has shifted power from the hands of those who sell to those who buy. Whereas in the past retailers could hide prices from us and lie to us that they had the best deal, even though there was a better store around the corner, now we can always take the phone out of our pocket and see if we can find a better deal elsewhere.
An incredible 81% of shoppers search for information online before purchasing a product/service.
And this is where content marketing comes in. It can help you be the brand people find when they “ask” online. Be the one who answers their questions and helps them, without immediately asking for something in return.
Content marketing has several benefits:
- you make your business more popular;
- increase potential customers’ affinity to your brand;
- increase the number of potential customers;
- turn strangers into customers;
- helps you with search engine optimization;
- increase organic and social traffic to your site;
- positions you as a thought leader;
- create long-term relationships with your customers;
And the list goes on. In fact, at unosoft, content is the second main source of customer acquisition, after referrals from existing customers. But to make it work you have to invest effort in creating content that solves customer problems.
Don’t make these content marketing mistakes yourself
Many of us tend to dismiss content marketing simply because we misunderstand it. We have a misunderstanding of the concept, a narrow understanding. And this is the first mistake we make.
You may be wondering: how do I write blog posts and have clients just come to me?
The answer is that they don’t just come, you have to have a well thought out process. If you have a website that sells and you understand how content marketing works, you have the most effective medium- and long-term strategy for attracting and retaining customers.
Because yes, another mistake we make is that we get the impression that content marketing has immediate effects. It can, but it usually takes time to see results. But if we haven’t planned our budget with the understanding that we won’t see spectacular results for a few months, we’ll abandon this strategy without giving it a real chance of success.
Another common mistake is that we try to sell too fast. Specifically, instead of focusing on providing value to potential customers, solving a problem for them, we write a few lines, if we’re talking about a blog post, and then immediately introduce our product. But nobody likes to be sold to (although we all like to buy).
So it’s important to understand that the core principle of content marketing is delivering value to the customer.
Remember: content can take many forms
Almost all the time when we think of content, we think of blogging. But content marketing can take many forms:
- guides or eBooks;
- physical books;
- research results;
- videos and live videos;
- question and answer sessions;
- online and offline events;
Be aware of the sales funnel
As I said at the beginning, we all know that in B2B it takes a lot longer to get prospects through the entire sales funnel, from hearing about us to buying and even recommending us.
If we want to be successful, we need to identify the main stages a prospect goes through. Then find ways to move them from one stage to another. Usually, all content is the best way to do this.
Let’s take a hypothetical (or not) example of how we at unosoft would use content marketing to attract new customers.
Let’s say we want to promote our social media marketing service.
(1) In a first phase, we would create blog posts to answer specific questions that a potential customer would have:
How can I use Facebook to promote my business?
How does the Facebook algorithm work?
Why can’t people see my Facebook posts?
(2) Then we would put little calls to actions on the website asking people to download a comprehensive guide to Facebook promotion.
Or we could create a retargeting campaign on Facebook, showing ads only to visitors to our website or certain articles, taking them to the guide page where they can download it.
Important to note, 95-98% of people won’t take any action the first time they visit your site.
But since we keep showing up in their search results, over time, we’ll get their attention.
(3) In order for them to download that guide, we’ve asked them email to say. (Email isn’t always necessary, we have other ways to continue communicating with them.)
(4) We will now send them a suite of emails (a) introducing ourselves and (b) giving them more information about social media promotion. We’re still at the stage of giving them valuable information, only it’s more specific and we’re getting closer to the problem our product solves.
Recommended is to follow the AIDA model – start by getting their attention and then pique their interest and desire to solve their problem. Case studies for example, where they can see real results, are a great way to get them interested in solving their own problem.
(5) And voila! Now we have someone very curious to try this service. This is the time when we come up with a special offer if they choose to buy from us, and we’ve significantly increased our chances of turning them into customers.
And if they don’t need to buy then, when they do, who do you think they’ll turn to? A stranger whose ad they clicked on at random, or those who helped them solve some problem and gave them so much valuable information?
Try content marketing
Used correctly, content marketing is the best B2B strategy in my opinion. As the buying decision depends on many factors and we need a greater amount of information to select a customer, if we are the ones providing this information we will be the first to be invited to make a presentation of our product.
The best part: your competition isn’t using content marketing yet. That’s why it’s a huge opportunity for you and your business to differentiate yourself.
But don’t take my word for it, try it!
I’m curious, what are your thoughts (or experiences) about content marketing or B2B marketing in general. Leave a comment below or write me at toma[@]unosoft.co.uk.