|Who is this for?||B2B Businesses|
|What is it About?||Marketing|
|Reading Time||3 minutes|
A couple of obvious points to get the ball rolling…
Business-to-Business marketing is hard.
You build a B2B business by word of mouth, by experience of the trade and knowing people in the industry – regular informal networking and referral.
You build a retail business by location, the right products at the right price point (even if that location is online).
Retail owners don’t have to know their customers – the relationship is between the products, the “customer journey” and the random customer that walks in off the street or finds them online.
B2B owners have to know their customers because advice given, quality of product and service is mostly critical, the customers have to know the people they are buying from 1) know what they are talking about 2) will provide everything to an exacting standard 3) will deliver on time.
If a B2B customer is pissed off about any of that they aren’t queuing up at the M&S returns counter with the wrong colour cardigan – they are looking for another supplier and probably compensation – if they had the time – and TIME is what most things boil down to.
Here’s the sandwich…
The upside of B2B is that every business is looking for services, looking for products, looking for items they can sell on at a profit or materials and widgets they need to manufacture their own items or support their services.
The downside is that most established businesses have established relationships and, so long as they are happy and looked after, it is really hard to argue with “if it aint bust don’t fix it”.
The upside is that unlike retail businesses, that are relatively easy to market (ducks for cover), business-to-business customers don’t find it as easy to just stop buying – they do of course – but if they don’t buy something on an ongoing basis they can’t trade at all. Retail customers don’t have to buy anything beyond the basics to survive when household budgets are squeezed.
Like you, probably, we pick up 80% plus of our new business by referral – but the SMEs we do most work for are the ones that have plateaued. The one’s where the well-connected owners have run out of time to find new connections, they’ve done extremely well, they are usually ten to twenty years in the making, they have the capacity, they have the staff, they pay lots of CT to the Chancellor… but they are stuck trying to move to the next level.
The Hedgehog and the Magpie
There isn’t a lot to say about Hedgehog Business – these are companies that have been doing the same things, the same way for a long time and see no reason to try.
They bumble along, coming across a nice juicy Slug of a job every now and then, snaffling that up before returning to the usual cycle of customers and prospects that just happen to know they are there somehow – if anyone should take a stick of marketing innovation and poke a Hedgehog Business with it – they curl into an impenetrable ball and show you their spikey side.
Magpie Businesses are much more common – often travelling in gangs of known associates who work the same way – it’s instinctive not planned
Scenario One: “Let’s take on a (nother) Sales Person!”
You are hoping that the person you take on has dozens, if not hundreds of contacts that he or she can clip a lead to and drag them along to your party – instant new business. After all, you do business with the person not the company right? Well, no. Not really. It may have been the case in the dim and distant past – but so many employers have had that done to them there can’t be a sales persons employment contract anywhere that doesn’t have a no soliciting non-compete clause.
So you take on someone – anyone that can get through the interview – and wait for the work to roll in – but how many SMEs can afford the salary and benefits package that will attract a real “Rainmaker”. What you take on is, hopefully, a nice hardworking someone who brings in work but maybe only at a pace around two thirds of the level you used to do yourself – back when you had time to do it.
You live with it because individuals that are keepers pay for themselves – but you’re still not cracking that glass ceiling to the next level.
Scenario Two: “Why don’t we try..!”
Yep – you may need a new website, the old one isn’t pulling up any trees, it isn’t ecommerce, and already looks dated. The new website looks good but the stats still aren’t great.
Ok – Who in the office can we get to look after Social Media …
That Mail Chimp thing is Free up to 2000 per month …
I know a mate of a mate who can do us a new logo AND he’s pretty good at SEO lets go with that…
It is the multitude of available marketing channels and promises of “hits” or “readers” or easy “ins” or being at the top of the Google charts that cause SMEs to act more than ever before like Magpies – only just getting into one marketing idea before having another shiny magic wand waved at them and off they go in another direction.
No – of course not your company – that’s everyone else.
Let me tell you where we come from in all this:
We have been involved in B2B creative marketing for over a quarter of a century – we know our stuff and we can help you work out what you need, take the donkey work off your back and allow you to carry on looking after your customers.
Not in one area or channel – but across the whole gamut – and most importantly come up with the original (and devastatingly beautiful) concepts, creations and content that will make you different.
That sales person, if you have one, needs serious creative back up – not just things he or she can hand out but things that are appropriate for individually targeted prospects.
They need things that are appropriate to any given circumstance or customer culture – these might include posting something that will result in the follow up call being taken. Things that are unobtrusive and easily taken into a drive by call – while still being impressive… and of course more formal and serious marketing tools that say “This is not wasting your time, this may be essential to your business and we have stripped down the info to be as immediately relevant to your specific company as possible.”
Yes – that website – we’re not interested in producing one for you unless its going to have a real purpose, be relevant to your customers and be maintained as a living member of your sales team – otherwise we may as well produce 5000 nice shiny brochures you can park on a shelf and forget about.
SOSHUL MEEDJA Innit Doe! No it isn’t – what appears on your social channels portrays the character of your business – that doesn’t mean if you’re a serious business your social / networking channel presentation has to be dour – or if you are a fun and exciting business you avoid showing your serious side.
Most of all your posting should be planned as creative and interesting campaigns just as much as your website content, your printed collateral and your traditional advertising.
All of this can be achieved and kept on brand, on message and on a disciplined consistent track, so it can be monitored and developed as you go along.
If you’re a Hedgehog we may never be able to persuade you – if you’re a Magpie you may be singing all the right notes maybe just not in the right order.
Let us help.
Testimonials here: www.bluestrawberryelephant.com/us/