Running a business-to-business (B2B) company requires a specific focus on what matters to other proprietors and fully understanding the industry you’re in. It’s easy to fall into a rut because things flow smoothly and “that’s the way we’ve always done things.” However, if you don’t make improvements over time, you risk losing your regular clients to a competitor who follows trends.
In a survey of B2B marketing professionals, about 71% indicated an increase in demand generation budgets. However, figuring out how to increase the desire for your product or service isn’t always easy. It’s important to look at a variety of tactics and figure out which ones work best for your specific audience.
1. Create Buyer Personas
Before you can effectively serve your customers, you must know who they are and what problems they face. Spend time looking at your current ones, as well as the target audience of your competitors. Study keyword searches, which often provide clues to pain points. For example, if someone searches for the phrase “how to improve a high employee churn rate,” you know they are facing turnover. You now see a problem you can solve for your audience. Once you know who your buyers are, create personas representing those people. You may have more than one. Personas should be as detailed as possible.
2. Improve the Buyer’s Journey
When a user lands on your website, what is the journey they go through that takes them from visitor to customer? Spend time looking at each point in your buyer’s journey and figuring out how well it meets each persona. Do you need to make adjustments? One issue on a lot of websites is a ton of clutter that makes it difficult for the person to know what action they should take next.
3. Involve Your Employees
Companies are only as good as the people who work for them. In addition to keeping your employees highly trained and engaging them, consider giving them ownership in your business through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). There are many advantages to ESOPs, including handing your business over to people who understand the vision and how it works while remaining involved yourself. You are also rewarding those who’ve invested their time and energy into helping you build your brand. Because employees are owners, they are much more likely to stay with you for the long haul.
4. Consider Scalability
As you add new offerings for your business clients, consider their scalability. Every company goes through cycles, so you must be able to easily offer services or products in different quantities as demand changes without significantly raising costs. Think about how you’ll handle a sudden lack of demand or a huge increase.
5. Review Partnerships
Just as you want to serve your customers to the best of your ability, you must also seek suppliers and service providers who offer quality service and value to you. Every year, review your partnerships. Is your cloud server still meeting your needs? Can you save money by going with a new supplier? Make sure it’s worth the cost savings and that the new company can meet your needs. Sometimes it’s better to ask a supplier to equal the lower quote rather than switch to someone who doesn’t understand your requirements.
6. Add Video
In a survey of B2B content marketers, researchers for the Content Marketing Institute found 77% believed video is one of the most effective tactics available. Placing a video on your landing page is a simple way of distributing information to users. It’s quite easy for people to absorb video over text or any other method.
7. Focus on Mobile
People use smartphones today more than any other time in the past. In a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and Google, researchers found mobile usage by B2B employees is on target to hit three hours a day by 2020. Consider the ways your audience would benefit from mobile usage.
Perhaps you can add an app that ties into your product or service. Maybe you can ensure your website is mobile responsive. Find ways to add value on mobile so users can find you and access your content easier on any device.
8. Consider Voice Search
Another area growing in popularity is voice search capabilities. With more people using smart speakers such as Alexa, Siri and Google Home, expect more business owners to use voice search in their own hunt for products and services. Picture your typical customer in a meeting and they say, “Hey Alexa, find me a B2B company offering cloud storage.” Make sure your website is an option that pulls up and which they can search completely via voice commands.
9. Boost the Customer Experience
Although brands try to differentiate themselves from their competitors, some services are so similar that it’s difficult to stand out. One place where you can boost your image is through customer experience (CX). Look at your company’s processes, the attitudes of your workers and how well the client’s needs are met. If you make your company customer-centric, then every department and every employee should feel empowered to make life easy on your clients and improve their experience.
10. Gain Consumer Trust on Social Media
Social media has grown in importance to the point that if you don’t have a customer service approach on one or more platforms, you’re missing out. At the same time, a survey of 3,255 Hootsuite business owners found the trust people have in brands on social media dropped drastically in the last couple of years. In fact, 60% of users say they no longer trust brands on Facebook and other platforms. To counteract this distrust, seek influencers to build up your image, be completely upfront and honest, and build relationships rather than simply trying to sell to people.
11. Speed up Response Times
How quickly do you respond to prospects who reach out to you? The faster you give them answers, the more chance you have of landing them as a new client. Wait too long, and you risk a competitor swooping them up before you get the chance to. Hire more salespeople, invest in automated systems that answer typical questions new clients have and figure out how to speed up the process in small ways that add up.
Photo: The Lazy Artist Gallery
12. Provide Case Studies
Marketers feel that case studies are the most trusted form of content buyers see. People expect results, and showing them how another brand achieved them with your product or service gives a concrete example they can study. Invest in case studies, share testimonials and add those trust factors that help new businesses invest in what you offer.
13. Know Your Competitors
Do some inside research on your competitors. Look at them objectively. What are they great at? Where could they improve? Compare your business model with theirs. Make sure you at least meet their positives but exceed their negatives.
14. Calculate ROI
For your business customers, the bottom line is their top concern. Spend time calculating the cost of your product and the potential return on investment for each client you’d like to land. Show different scenarios and potential revenue or cost savings based on doing business with you versus a competitor or not using the service or product at all.
15. Audit Your Company
Not every improvement in your business has to be aimed at your customers. Sometimes you simply need to save money on your paper supplies, learn how to communicate with employees better or figure out what assets need improving. Take time each year to audit your company from the ground up. Look at accounting, sales, marketing, inventory and internal processes. Take a hard look at your management style. Send management to training seminars and gather feedback from employees. Make small changes from month to month and strive to always improve.
Compete in a High-Tech World
Photo: Nordwood Themes
The technology around us changes almost constantly in the 21st century. Focus on the things you can control, stay abreast of industry changes and make adjustments as needed. Ask your current customers what you can do to better meet their needs and strive to always grow, improve and serve your clients.