“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors.” – George Washington
Happy Presidents’ Day. No matter how you feel about the current electoral prospects, we can all agree our country’s forefathers had great wisdom, and a thing or two to teach us about perseverance, holding steadfast to one’s beliefs, and the importance of a strong and unified vision.
Looking back on the past and reflecting on history is important — we can learn so much. It’s not about ruminating on past mistakes or regrets, but extracting a lesson and moving forward with renewed motivation and spirit.
When you look back at your company’s past, what lessons can you learn? Are there places where a stronger strategy or a better plan could have resulted in a faster outcome? Where there times when you overlooked customer appreciation or you weren’t as responsive as you should have been? Take these lessons and apply them to your plan going forward.
On this Presidents’ Day, rather than repeating history, let’s learn from it and move forward with hope and focus. The path to your company’s growth and greatness lies ahead.
- Many stories of America’s birth show us how small groups with a strong, fearless vision can overcome giants. Even if you’re in small business, the right SEO strategy can help level the playing field. Here’s how to compete with the big guys.
- How has political campaigning changed over time? Learn how digital marketing tactics completely changed the game…
- Throughout history, presidential hopefuls have used slogans, propaganda, and creative marketing strategies—all of which we can learn from to craft our own marketing campaigns.
- History teaches us many lessons through compelling stories. How does your company use storytelling to connect with customers?
- If you’ve watched Mad Men, you have a decent grasp on the modern history of marketing. What can we learn from going even further back? Try exploring this brief history of the origins of marketing. Neat stuff.
- Just like a history lesson, if you want to understand your market, you have to do your homework. Check out these free marketing resources you can use to shape your brand and move forward with your goals.
Apply a little historical knowledge, strategic leadership and “presidential thinking” to your marketing strategy to reach more customers this year. For more great marketing ideas, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive full Motivational Mondays posts in your inbox each week.
Get Motivated Every Monday!
Marketing creativity is the ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, information, insight, stats, examples — and combine them in unique ways. The larger the library of creative building blocks, the more visionary your ideas will grow to be.
Motivate your mind. Subscribe now to get full Motivational Mondays posts in your inbox every Monday morning:
Small B2B businesses face complex problems in today’s marketplace. You’re dealing with stiff competition from global importers who drive down prices and, at the same time, trying to get a foothold in an industry full of well-established and anchored domestic competitors. If you can’t offer the lowest prices or the lightning-fast service of big, high-volume operations, how will you compete?
Every B2B small business can carve out a niche, even in tough industries. It’s just a matter of finding what resonates with your customers—then making that bit of gold work for you—so you can nab more sales and grow your B2B business.
#1. Find Your Shine—and Share It
Consider what you have to offer and define what makes you stand out. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can craft your corporate image, branding and marketing in an honest and unique way your customers will love.
Remember that old Avis campaign? “We’re number two, so we try harder.” It worked because of its fresh and honest approach, not to mention its hardworking appeal to the average American—their customers could relate, and gaining that ground was worth millions.
If you’re an SMB, you may never be #1, but you are most certainly unique. You’re not trapped in layers of corporate hierarchy, so find your angle and own it. Show your customers what you’re passionate about. Be fresh. Be honest. Drive your point home.
Maybe you can’t deliver tomorrow, and maybe you can’t offer the lowest prices on the market. Those are powerful incentives…but not necessarily as compelling as other things you can offer that giant “faceless” companies simply can’t match.
Here are a few areas where smaller B2B companies can deliver more—and shine:
- Share your expertise. Make knowledge your top selling point by hiring and training well-qualified employees and giving them enough autonomy to address each customer’s problem on a personal level. Your people should be able to listen and respond with real solutions, not canned responses.
- Focus on quality. Your customers want to feel valued. Stress the importance of custom solutions built from the ground up. Build your reputation on precision and quality construction and/or service. Small businesses have a reputation for caring more about their customers. Capitalize on that feel-good feature.
- Cut out the middleman. If you can cut costs by, for example, shipping directly to your customers, consider doing it. If you can offer your B2B services without relying on a third party, consider going for it. Distribution channels add costs you may be able to eliminate…thus lowering costs without lowering quality.
#2. Bring Your Team Together—and Collaborate
After you’ve defined your best selling points, you need an actionable plan to build your brand story and establish your corporate culture. It must be a top-to-bottom marketing solution with every member of your team on board. Management, marketing, sales, product experts, and customer service reps should all be in the know and ready to go.
To put your vision to work, sales and marketing need to coordinate and collaborate. Marketing needs to know how to identify hot leads and sales needs to follow up every step of the way. Treat your existing customers like the old friends they are and offer support and information no matter where they are in the buying cycle. Give your team the tools and information they need to succeed.
#3. Keep the Content Flowing—and Connect
Fresh, informational website content will help keep your existing customers engaged while helping you sell to new customers. Tailor all your content marketing efforts to address specific needs within your customer’s industry. What are your top 10 customer FAQs? Be sure your website content points your customers straight to helpful, informative answers.
Visual presentations, recent testimonials, detailed case studies and industry-specific product and services comparisons can help you communicate your value to potential B2B customers. Appealing content includes slideshows, photos, and even video—not just endless streams of text. Your customers deserve better. If your customers need technical specs, present them in a fact sheet with easy-to-scan bullet points, instead of a headache-inducing jungle of words.
#4. Get Clever—and WIN
Sungard AS won big a couple years back with a clever marketing ploy. They did something pretty unusual in B2B…created an infographic that harnessed pop culture while addressing a common IT concern: it compared “moving to the cloud” to surviving a zombie apocalypse. Yes, you read that right. The infographic went viral, and Sungard ran with the concept, building out more zombie-themed informational content. And guess what? Yep, their target market LOVED it.
You’ll close more deals if you work to understand both why your business is unique and how you can best meet and exceed your customers’ needs. Pinpoint your customers’ pain points and create targeted content to draw in new customers and keep your existing customers happy. Answering your customers’ and prospects’ questions and concerns while educating them about your small B2B venture—now that’s always win-win. Tie it all together, collaborate and get creative and you’ll nab more sales than ever.
Check out these five case studies to learn replicable marketing strategies from leading B2B manufacturers. No matter what industry you’re in, the competition is heating up. Traditional marketing methods simply aren’t enough anymore.
Get this step-by-step guide for creating a workable content and social marketing strategy for your B2B enterprise — Get ahead of the curve.
“If you build it, they will come” might be true of cornfields and dead baseball legends, but it certainly doesn’t apply to business. You can’t just open your doors (or launch your website) and wait for customers to line up. The competition is just too stiff.
If you want new business, you’re going to have to earn it by standing out from the crowd.
3 Ways to Make an Impression and Attract New Customers
1. Change It Up
When you’ve been in business for a while, you eventually develop a particular image. This is a good thing—it means you have brand recognition. But if you get stuck in the same-old same-old, it might become harder to attract new customers after a while.
Changing your tried-and-true formula doesn’t always work (two words: New Coke), but innovation always does. Don’t try to pretend you haven’t tried one of Dunkin’ Donuts’ seasonal flavors. Who could possibly resist a Mint Oreo donut for St. Paddy’s Day, pumpkin spice autumn yumminess, or a heart-shaped donut filled with glorious cookie dough around Valentine’s Day? Offer up something new, exciting and irresistible to tempt people who have never looked at your business twice…and drag old customers you haven’t heard from in a while back into the fold.
2. Mail Out Free Stuff
One thing will never change: people love to get free swag in the mail. You’d invest in promotional items for a convention or show, so why not send something out to homes or businesses in your area code (if you’re a local business) or to your social circle (if you’re an online business)? Recently, Dang Foods included a bag of toasted coconut chips covered in dark chocolate in a Klout Perks box…and let’s just say that was a really good idea. Dang Foods earned a new customer and a lot of free social media publicity for one little bag of snacks.
3. Host or Participate in a Charity Event
Getting involved in a local charity can be a great way to meet new people in the community and make a fantastic first impression. Some ideas might include handing out branded items like full, reusable water bottles at a charity walk or golf towels at a charity golf tourney. Think: things people will really use. Tacky plastic keychains are so 1980s and when was the last time you saw a calendar in use?
By handing out branded swag potential customers really want, you do more than put your logo in their hands. You demonstrate that you speak their language, appreciate their story and, most importantly: understand their needs.
The key is to match the focus of the organization with your business. If you sell sportswear, hook up with your local Pop Warner or Little League. Hand out free t-shirts, offer a discount on one item everybody needs (like cleats), or offer a smaller across-the-board discount on all items at the start of the season.
Not in retail? Partner with an organization like Project Management Institute (PMI). They’re always looking for speakers to make presentations at their meetings and you can take the opportunity to hand out something business people want, like a branded flash drive or an expensive-looking pen.
Once you’ve earned the attention of a new customer, follow through on the sale and keep building the relationship. That’s what Growth Cycle Marketing is all about!
BONUS TIP: Continue Build a Reputation for Great Customer Service
Always remember you’re not looking for a one night stand. Long-term relationships are far more satisfying in the long run. One of the best ways to attract new customers is to treat the old ones so well that they tell everybody about it. After the faceless corporate depersonalization of 90s customer service, customers want contact with real people.
If you’re using our Growth Cycle Marketing techniques, you’ve got customer service in the bag. You’re following up on new leads, keeping in touch after the sale and beyond and staying on top of social media. Great customer service is the best secret weapon your company can have…and it never goes out of style.
For more information about keeping your customers on the hook before, during and even after the sale, download our FREE Growth Cycle Marketing white paper.