Marketing a business-to-business company used to involve a whole lot of yellow page ads and about 10,000 linen and gold-embossed business cards. You would either wait by the phone and hope for the best, or you would go out to hundreds of events and tradeshows hoping to network your way to a client.
Of course, I'm oversimplifying. But in the old days before inbound marketing became a viable option, the possibilities were pretty limited. And there were far too many businesses who were not reaching the full scope of their audience because they simply didn't know how to effectively and successfully market themselves; and before the past fifteen years or so, the options were pretty limited.
Today, though, talented and knowledgeable professionals have an opportunity to capitalize on their knowledge and experience to directly improve their marketing efforts without needing to shake a million hands. Now they can be shaken virutually.
The difference is the technological viability of creating and disseminating quality digital content in a strategic way to find, nurture, and convert targeted leads into satisfied paying customers. Here are four solid ways business-to-business companies can benefit from inbound marketing.
B2B companies always need to vie for business, often because what they do is specific to their industry, and there are often only a handful or so other companies competing for the same buisness.
These days, the yellow pages are dead. Instead, visibility is largely a matter of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Google (or, to a lesser extent, Bing and Yahoo) is the first place your potential customers are going to find the kind of help you provide. And they're not just searching for the closest, or the cheapest, or the most experienced. They're searching for someone that can solve their problems effectively.
An inbound strategy allows you to create content that shows up in search results and provides answers to the questions you prospects and leads are asking. The more quality content you create and the more effectively you dispense that content across the web, the more visible you become. And, unlike the widespread media advertising needed in the past, casting this wider net doesn't require exponential increases in your marketing budget.
Your visibility grows organically.
While advertising can potentially bring in a large number of leads in a short time, how valuable are those leads? Is every one of them the type of client you truly enjoy working with? Is every one of them a profitable lead?
Inbound marketing takes your lead generation efforts a step further in its ability to target the leads you want to attract, to deliver more quality leads. With a minimum of research and routine monitoring of your web page analytics, you can quickly narrow down exactly what kind of content appeals to your most profitable leads. You'll know exactly what attracts your favorite types of client.
Then, you can simply create more of that type of informaiton, and eliminate the kinds that attract the wrong people.
Automated Relationship Building
Trust is still at the core of every successful professional relationship. That used to be accomplished over the course of numerous phone calls and face-to-face meetings, and it took a serious amount of time.
These days, though, your prospects are used to going through 70% of this process before they even contact you or your sales team for the first time. In other words, they search for help online and they make most of their buying decision based on how your online content makes them feel.
If they find your digital content helpful, informative and genuine; and they come away from it feeling an affinity for- and a trust in- you, you will have earned their business, and their loyalty.
Strategic landing page and email marketing campaigns – managed by popular marketing automation software – takes that relationship nurturing opportunity to an even higher level. Creating automated email follow ups, sharing even more helpful, original content, allows you to build those relationships with minimal effort on your part.
Arguably the most important benefit of inbound marketing for business-to-business companies is the way strategic content creation and distribution establishes you as an expert in your industry.
As noted above, prospects are going to search online – not for the closest or most convenient company to work wth – but for the one that shares the greatest expertise in their field. As you consistently carry out an inbound marketing plan, you will turn your knowledge and expertise into tangible digital assets that continually build your reputation and perceived value as a thought leader.
If you had to guess which Information Technology firm was more knowledgeable in a given specialty, would you choose the one with a two-page website (About Me and Contact) or the one who had written 75 intriguing blog articles delving into every aspect of that specialty?
The answer is obvious.
So, as a B2B company, if you're not already heavily into inbound marketing, you need to get involved today. If you're working on it but finding it too time consuming or difficult to maintain consistently, you should definitely consider bringing on an agency to handle the work load.