Sales funnel, B2B sales, B2B marketing expert

Tips for manufacturers to grow client base

My company provides mechanical designs and manufacturers and supplies products to a few companies in both the US and Europe. How do I increase my customers?

This is a typical “opening” question that I get asked when starting a new engagement with clients.  B2B marketing needs to be closely integrated with the new business and new client acquisition process to be effective.

For a public question and answer, I gave some straightforward answers.  The detail of how to apply these, is where my expertise will help you get it right first time.

Sales funnel, B2B sales, B2B marketing expert

Planning B2B sales and marketing plan

Step one for B2B sales

  1. Ask your existing client/s for referrals. If they were happy with the work that you did, they should be happy to help. If you feel the need, offer them a X%/$X discount on the next project for every client they refer. This is ‘win-win-win’ situation because you get more clients, they get a discount, and they use your services again.
  2. Ask your existing clients for a written recommendation & permission to use their logo on your website. Publish them both on your website. This will help increase the conversion rate on your website. If you feel the need, you can offer them a link to their website which will be good for both of your SEO rankings – so another win-win.
  3. Publish as much (relevant and quality) content as possible on your website (about the projects you’ve done, potential projects, your fields of expertise, etc. Obviously, you need to have a professional and trustworthy looking website. I can explain how the articles need to be done.
  4. Create a free ‘get a quote tool’ – many customers check online to get an estimate of how much the project will cost. If you have an automatic online tool, this can attract a lot of customers. I have personally used such a tool and I was very impressed.
  5. Partner with organisations/companies that work with your target clients – for example: I work with lots of entrepreneurs and many of them ask me for referrals to various types of service providers, including programming companies. These companies give me a small percentage of the profits they make from my referrals (of course I only refer to companies which I know and trust as my reputation is worth more than the referral fee).

Step 2 tactics for more sophisticated marketers

In Europe, there are a number of partnership sites for B2B. You could use these sites to post your offer or search for other offers and hopefully make a match.

Another approach is considering hiring local distributors who specialise in your industry. The advantage here is local distributors will already have a strong network to promote your products/services. Furthermore, local distributors would have thorough understanding of the local market, language, and business culture to close deals.

Go talk to your current customers. Ask them why they do business with you. They may, and most likely will, tell you something different than you’re saying to new prospects. Listen to what your current customers are saying and use their messaging to talk to the market. Ask them if they know other companies that could use what you have,

Go and join the professional trade bodies who represent the industries for your existing clients. Ask your existing clients what these are. Once you are a member, you will be able to see a membership list of other organisations who are also members
Plan outbound marketing to approach these companies and see if they want to also work with you.

Consider visiting the annual conferences and trade shows which these professional bodies run because you will then meet in person with prospects. Many people find it easier to sell their expertise face to face. You could consider doing a trade show stand as well where you can display your past work and the logos of your clients. This builds trust and can start discussions.,

B2B sales and marketing work together

In summary – you need to learn the process of B2B new business, you need a strategy for your new business development and then you need a regular tactical execution process to deliver the new business programme.

You may choose to hire an external advisor to help write the strategy, you could get an in-house salesperson to deliver the tactical execution as well, depending on the size of your contracts and how many you need to get in order to pay for their salary plus commission to make it worthwhile for the business.

Rebecca Caroe B2B marketing speaker

Is B2B marketing yielding good returns?

Is the marketing you are doing giving you the yield you seek?

I am asking this question a LOT at the moment.  I  ask it to myself, for my own businesses, I ask clients, I ask prospects.

One answer came from a professional services marketer.  It serves as a good example for in-house marketers to challenge their thinking, to up-skill and to get insight from beyond the internal team in the business.

This is what she wrote  to answer

Hmmm… It’s hard to tell. I cannot know if a speaking engagement got someone interested enough to ask their consultant to investigate our solutions and eventually get in touch with us and 2 years later… we have a deal signed. It is a complex process to sell our service.

Is a long sales cycle a B2B marketing problem?

Yes, it certainly is.  Tracking and managing a diverse set of marketing tactics and campaigns over time takes discipline and forethought.

But where I felt this marketing manager was failing her business colleagues was around integrating the content creation, the speech-giving with marketing analytics and tracking data.

I challenge the assertion that you “cannot know” if a speaking engagement has any effect.

How to track conference speeches for marketing impact

Let me make some suggestions:

  • Every conference – offer a free download of something valuable. Create a trackable URL. Cookie the browsers visiting that site.
  • ALSO offer the visitor something even more valuable (not a sales pitch) if they sign up to your database

Both of these create trackable events which (even if 2 years passes) can enable you to demonstrate results.

Any pass-on of URLs to second parties like consultants or colleagues is tracked too.

I use Google Campaign URL builder and also short link services like Bit.ly for this.

Upskill your internal marketing team

When did you last go and get training and invest in your internal marketing team?  I fear many in-house teams do not get the attention they deserve.  Hiring an agency or consultant is not necessarily going to improve the team skills – it delegates marketing activity to outsiders.

What could you do to invest better, to improve your team’s ability to run the strategy as well as the execution, to better understand what the agency / consultant is doing for you, so that they can brief better, to guide the marketing plan better, to adapt and adjust the marketing budget for new tech, for new market conditions (recession?) and above all, to stay in front of the competition?

So challenge yourself, is the marketing you are doing giving you the yield you seek?

Mid-Sized Business Marketing

The power of New Zealand business as an engine for economic growth lies mainly in  mid-sized businesses.  These are under-recognised by many for the power they wield.

Grant Thornton has done a study of the sector  which has some interesting findings.

  • Mid-sized firms are growing faster than large or small (absolute numbers).
  • Most are mature, in B2B industries
  • Job growth is much higher than in other corporations (large or small)
  • They suffer low productivity
  • Capital investment is low (obvs as GT specialises in this type of consultancy)
  • Suffer low international / export aspirations
  • Few get >10% of orders via online sources and most under-utilise digital opportunities

5 solutions for future growth

The recommendations made by GT are rather bland, probably reflecting the diversity of business types in the group and the fact that they want to be paid for custom recommendations.

Here’s what I would add as ways to get your own business started on its future path.

  1. Bring on short-term contractors to assess opportunities and report to the Board
  2. Add Board Members with specific expertise on a short term basis to guide the Board  [and then leave] e.g. cyber-security, digital marketing, B2B procurement online
  3. Budget for pilot projects [and be prepared to walk away]
  4. Hire newly migrated kiwis who can bring overseas experience [leverage them for knowledge, implementation and then don’t worry if they leave]
  5. New Zealand experience in employees is over-rated.  Find people NOT like your current team.  Use them to show you overseas methods / techniques / tools and input to 1 above.

Mid sized business recommendations

Download the report

Solving B2B marketing challenges

I got this question from a client

Marketing Association Training Courses

Our challenge is the digital marketer who may not be well-versed in the requirements and realities of B2B. Often they have come from a B2C/retail environment, and might get stuck on things like 3rd party seller integrations that we don’t offer, rather than the deep integration and B2B functionality we specialise in. These personas are generally NOT committed to passing on our story, because they’re telling themselves a different one.

Common situation – where you know more than the (junior) client marketer, but you need them to be willing to implement your solution.

How to solve for ignorance

Easy fixes.

Find a partner who LOVES those 3rd party seller integrations and agree to collaborate with them. So you can confidently say that “yes we integrate with everything” and bypass these objections. [BTW Zapier does pretty much everything with an open API.]

One thing you can also do is offer deep hands-on training when you implement so you will be up-skilling the digital marketer who doesn’t have a B2B marketing background… leaving them skilled in both using and implementing good tactical campaigns. If this can be aligned with a public certification as well (See the CIM courses or NZ Marketing Association Diploma) then there’s a side-benefit for the individual getting a recognised qualification along the way.

Make your B2B proposal stand out

One of the joys of being a freelance consultant is that sometimes I get to act on behalf of my client and hire specialists to work on their B2B marketing campaigns.

I recently advertised a job and was stunned by one of the proposal submissions. As a new business specialist I know how hard it is to make your proposal stand out from others. This one hit all the gold stars for me.

Integrate proposals and CRM

I was sent an unique URL to view the proposal. This makes everything trackable – it was on a sub-domain of the B2B marketing agency’s website and so I know they will be able to track:

  • How many times I opened it
  • Which sections I browsed (they are distinctly separate)
  • How long I spent reading each part
  • Which sections I expanded to read further

All in all it was a pleasure to read and to be “sold” to. I felt engaged in the process and I know my actions on that page enabled the agency to get better insight into me as a prospect.

Screenshots from the marketing proposal web page.

And a final note, there’s a Squarespace service Qwilr which offers this on a 14 day trial.

seth godin, purple circle, marketing easter egg

Marketing using easter eggs

Little surprises that reward your customers are a really nice way of helping them to feel special.

Today I got a marketing easter egg from Seth Godin.

The benefits of careful reading

The message was short, barely formatted and it’s one I have waited a year to receive. Hidden in the fourth line was a surprise.

Don’t forget to look for the purple circle on the website to get the best price.

Seth Godin, The Marketing Seminar

…. and so I took a look.

It looked like a pretty piece of graphic art. But one of the circles had an embedded link. NICE….

Seth Godin, purple Circle, marketing easter egg, link hidden,
Hidden Marketing Easter Egg Link

How do you reward your loyal customers?

Sometimes I get frustrated when we make an offer and few people take it up. I think “That’s an AWESOME deal – why isn’t everyone paying attention and buying?” But I realise that I’m looking at it the wrong way around; I should be delighted that only the most savvy, the most loyal and most deserving customers are the ones who take up the offer.

I think of these as my “ultra-loyal” customers. They care enough to read. They don’t skip my messages and so I can give them a reward that others don’t take up.

Can you use an Easter Egg Marketing Strategy for your best customers?

Get insights into Seth’s thinking with his latest book This is Marketing – the course above is based on it.

Linkedin, company page, social media tips

10 LinkedIn Company Page Ideas & Suggestions

  1. Create a Showcase page – with updates just for these sub-sets which allows for segmentation of viewers.
  2. Add Company page link to email signatures – update monthly with the pinned post.
  3. The BEST imagery on the Company page – include your logo watermarked into the image. 1,536px x 768px.
  4. Re-write the company overview text to reflect a niche positioning
  5. Check hashtags to follow.  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/follow/?filterType=channel&focused=true
  6. Refresh your pinned post 2x per month.  And re-share it to other channels.
  7. Share your top 5 articles from the blog one every 2 weeks…. Yes repetition is worth it.  And in 6 months change to new articles.
  8. Get more comments by asking questions.  “Are you watching the Cricket World Cup? What’s the best activation you’ve seen?”; Formula 1 Fails at Monaco – did you spot the bad branding in the Casino Tunnel?; What do you do to promote athletes in their off season?
  9. Use URL Builder tool to track web links from your company page updates https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/
  10. Set up Content Suggestions so you can do the 4-1-1 model of sharing 4 pieces of content from others to every couple of your own.

What are your top tips?

LinkedIN new feature, company page linkedIN

2 new LinkedIn Tools – Saved search and Article title edits

Today I came across two new features in LinkedIn which will definitely help marketers and pro-active networkers. And one negative feature.

Throttle Control is ON

LinkedIn is clearly pushing for greater revenues – many of my favourite work-rounds for search and connecting are now getting blocked. Have you noticed this?

I got blocked from searching for 2nd / 3rd degree connections on 10th May. That was because I had apparently already used up my allocation for the month! It renews next month. So pretty irritating….. Having said that, there are some neat work arounds and some new apps which I’m trialing in beta which may help with some aspects of this.

In the meantime, pay up or go away. The choice is yours.

Saved Search Alerts

New LinkedIn Feature

I was doing some searches and spotted what I think may be a beta release feature in the right sidebar…. I was searching in “People” for a search string. And so I made a search alert to save that search. In fact I made a couple.

The saved search name i18n_rail was default applied by LinkedIn. Probably code for something….. suggestions?

It appears to be similar to Google Alerts but with less functionality. The options are only for weekly alerts and to be received by email which suggests this isn’t yet a fully featured roll-out. But a nice touch, especially if we are all going to have to pay to use LinkedIn Search in future.

Company page article title edits

While uploading an article to our company page I noticed another new feature – you can edit the title so that the URL link title is not the default option.

You have to be in the admin view to use this feature. And isn’t it nice that 140 characters is offered as the link text? Importantly this is only link text, not the URL or destination title. I think this will be great for improved keyword searching and SEO – plus those of us who like to write long headlines will have a field day!

Now go and try these – tell me if you can find them in your profile.