Inbound marketing is an effective and affordable way of marketing a small business that sells consultative products and services to other businesses. Why, because inbound marketing principles and tactics mirror offline factors for successful business-to-business marketing.
Successful business-to-business marketing online or off line requires a plan and a tactical focus on understanding customer problems. Customers will always buy, if you can provide solutions to their problems at a price they can afford. Getting them to buy from you is the hard part. So how do you persuade customers to buy from you?
We think you need to lay the ground work to entice prospective customers to begin to engage you in a dialogue about their problems. So the first action you must take in employing B2B inbound marketing is to understand your customer concerns, become customer-centric.
1. Understand Customer Concerns
What problems do your customers have that you have solutions for that are viable and affordable? Understand what your client is worried about and then you can begin to develop ways of communicating solutions to help your potential customers.
If you don’t know what your customers problems are ask them. Go to meetings, trade shows or go online and ask questions and read what your prospective customers are talking about in blogs, forums or on industry websites.
2. Offer Help
Building a relationship is the cornerstone of all business-to-business sales. Without rapport, and trust in a business relationship there is no sale. So what is one of the quickest ways to build initial rapport and confidence? It is to give away something to somebody of value to them. In business-to-business selling giving away reliable information, know, how and tips from experience are some of the best giveaways.
Even going the extra mile to help someone will often pay big dividends in cementing long-term business relationships. It is easy to become cynical, however if you go the extra mile and someone does not appreciate your effort. But, you are actually better off because you now know that person would not have made a good customer anyway. So learn to forget and don’t let that deter you from helping the next person.
The best way to offer help to sales prospects that don’t know you yet, is to use the Internet to introduce yourself and your company to your target audience. You can do that through producing quality content that addresses the problems of your sales prospects.
3. Nurture Your Prospects
A business-to-business sale of consultative products and services is not a sprint. It usually requires a couple of months to a year before the sale is consummated. So using lead nurturing on the Web is a natural vehicle to build on the initial rapport you hopefully have built in your activities of offering help to your sales prospects.
Your potential customers are proceeding through a purchase process that begins with information gathering as a first step that is why it is so important to have your quality content out on the Internet for prospects to find. If you’re not there they will not find you.
Once they find your content that informs them about your thinking and solutions to their problems you then need to follow up with a consistent lead nurturing campaign. This will position you to engage prospects more specifically about the problem they are trying to solve. This is again another critical communications step to help prospects recognize that your solution is perfect for their needs.
As part of your nurturing campaign you will want to refer your prospects to a different set of communications content. Now focus on content that highlights how your solution has helped others like them.
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4. Convert Prospects Into Sales
After a prospect has shown interest in your lead nurturing emails and related content that is helping them move from recognizing their business problem to now actively seeking a solution to their problem the time to move into converting these engagements into sales is at hand. To do that you will want to again shift your content focus to enticing your prospects to make a decision to contact you. To do this you will want to develop content like:
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5. Analyze Your Process
Lastly you need a commitment and a system to track your content and its effectiveness in evaluating what needs to change to constantly improve the inbound marketing process. The best marketing doesn’t come from someone who knows it all, but from someone who knows how to measure and analyze marketing implementation.
Inbound marketing in the age of the Internet is an efficient and affordable approach to B2B sales lead generation. The key is to make sure you carry out all of these five inbound marketing steps for successful business-to-business marketing.
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