What are the best B-to-B marketing tools for your business? Business-to-Business marketing is one of our specialties at Lawrimore Inc. Here are some important things we’ve learned in over 25 years of helping clients with B-to-B marketing tools.
First of all, consider if you are marketing mainly to local businesses or businesses nationwide, even globally, because that has a major impact on your choice of B-to-B marketing tools. Either way, you are going to need certain core B-to-B marketing tools, which we will discuss first, then get into the differences between local and national marketing. (All of these tools are provided cost-effectively by Lawrimore Inc.)
CORE B-TO-B MARKETING TOOLS
A good brand name communicates your business distinctively. If you have an unusual name like Lawrimore, you can go with that. But if your name is Smith, pair it with other words that explain what you provide, like Telephone Systems, Casualty Insurance, or Architecture.
You need a distinctive logo that you can use on all your marketing materials that will serve as a graphic symbol of your brand. Don’t settle for a cheap one because this is one of the most important symbols of your business as a whole.
A website is essential in today’s marketplace, yet surprisingly many businesses still do not have a professional website. Ask us about website upgrade and enhancement options, and be sure to consider the value of investing in a search engine optimized website that will attract potential customers who are using major search tools like Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, can be effective ways to reach out to target markets, one contact at a time. We recommend adding a blog to your website which automatically condenses and posts your content to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and other social media – plus notifying the major search engines. It’s an ideal combination for what is now called content marketing.
Public relations is the most cost-effective b-to-b marketing tool for reaching large audiences. We can assist you with getting news stories and feature articles in a wide range of media, and it costs you nothing for the news space. Public relations has more than seven times the credibility of advertising, according to one study, because it has the implied endorsement of the “objective” news media.
Email marketing is gaining increasing respect as a b-to-b marketing tool because it is inexpensive, can be highly targeted and allows repeated contacts with target markets. Lawrimore works with some of the top email list providers in the country (beware of the many bad ones out there), offering varying benefits and price points, while we provide the creative and strategy for best results.
LOCAL B-TO-B MARKETING TOOLS
Newspaper advertising can be effective in building name awareness and generating some inquiries from prospects, although it can also be expensive. Even a small ad can run several hundred dollars per insertion. This is one B-to-B marketing tool that you can try in various forms to see what works best. In general one ad is worthless. A series of 4 to 12 is needed to build interest and desire on the part of potential customers.
B-to-B networking – in most communities, the Chamber of Commerce has a wide variety of events year-round that let you meet and talk with hundreds of people, some of whom are potential customers and some of whom may serve as referral sources. Other organizations like Business Network International and local chapters of professional organizations provide additional opportunities to get to know lots of people. Be prepared to pass out plenty of business cards.
Yellow pages are a mixed bag. On one hand you’d better at least have a listing or you may miss opportunities. But in our own experience, the majority of people who are searching for a business services provider in the Yellow Pages have little money and ultimately do not become profitable customers. It all depends on the business you are in. Obviously plumbers and insurance companies get business from the Yellow Pages because they run tons of ads in the phone book. Try it yourself and see what works.
Radio and TV are generally not cost-effective B-to-B marketing tools. That’s because the vast majority of the audience you are paying for are not potential customers – not business owners and decision-makers. If you do want to try broadcast advertising, consider Cable TV. It is surprisingly cost-effective and lets you select a cluster of channels that are more likely to be viewed by business people than some others.
NATIONAL-INTERNATIONAL B-TO-B MARKETING
Trade magazines are the best national-international B-to-B marketing tools by far. There are tens of thousands of them, and a professional marketing firm can identify dozens that serve your target market. Full color ads are usually worth the price. Sell only one product or service per ad and run it several times for best results. Such ads we’ve created for clients have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales with ads yet only cost a couple of thousand to run.
In addition, trade magazines are hungry for good PR stories. Our marketing firm can write articles and take photographs that will be “magazine quality” and ensure good placement for your business. Some we’ve created have even made the front covers of major trade publications. Such PR costs no more than an ad but has much greater visibility and will really make your phone ring.
Search engine optimization goes far beyond a mere website, to actually drive search engine traffic to your site. For example this page you are reading now was created after we discovered that many people were searching for “B-to-B marketing tools” online, but few other sites offer such information. Search engine optimization is very complicated to “win,” and constantly changing, so it definitely requires professional assistance. But given the fact that the MAJORITY of potential B-to-B buyers start their search online, it is one of the best investments you can make.
Email newsletters are a great way to convert traffic to your website into a growing group of potential customers. Email newsletters require someone who is a skilled writer and who has the time and interest to produce it. Even a monthly email newsletter can be a great way to keep people informed about what you’re doing, offer helpful information, build your reputation as an expert, and keep “top of mind” awareness for your company and its services.
If you don’t have someone on staff to do this, we can do it all for you. The great thing is it costs only a penny an email or less if you use the right software. No other medium of communication is as inexpensive as email newsletters, and return on investment is outstanding.
Trade shows are proven winners for B-to-B marketing, especially if you have a product to sell. You’ll have to pay for booth space and the construction of an attractive booth, and you’ll need some kind of hand-out materials for visitors. In many industries, trade shows are highly effective for concentrating potential buyers from across the country in one place, and many of them can visit your booth and interact with your staff. In general you will increase attendance if you send out some kind of direct mail or email in advance to those who have registered to attend, ideally with a special offer or lure to reward them for visiting your booth.
To learn more about your B-to-B marketing options, use our online contact form or call our president Buck Lawrimore at 704-332-4344. We look forward to helping you increase your sales and profits.