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

marketing competitors, competitor positioning,

Why don’t customers buy now?

Today I’m working with a client who is finding it hard to get prospects to buy.

We are working through a list of possible reasons.  My first view is that more advertising / publicity is probably not the reason.  I think that it’s more to do with the offer, the positioning, the brand promise and perceptions of value and immediate need.

Later is an option

Buying now is obviously what the client brand wants.

But for the prospect, why would they?

Deferring risk is part of the prospect’s decision making.  And as marketers we tend to presume that our logic, our world view must prevail.

But the reasons people don’t buy can also be

  • awareness
  • trust
  • world view
  • perceptions about value

We wrote a list of all the reasons someone would not buy this product.  Try it for yourself.

Competitors exist too

Some people will buy from your competitors.  Can you find out why they chose them?  Do you have anecdotes about customers trying another brand and coming back to yours?

Without publishing it, could you assemble anecdotes about your competitors, classify them and produce a rank order of WHY people choose them over you?

Then compare that to your positioning and brand promise.
Where do you really stand out, where are you broadly the same?

That will give your sales team clues….. I call these “golden questions” and they are defined by Don Peppers as questions whose answers tell you a lot more than the question implies.

So, if the customer is really concerned about something…. what do you ask / tell them?
If they are really concerned about price and only price ….what do you ask / tell them?

Today is later

Now is usually better than later.

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.

How to find digital marketers

You can look on freelancer websites and marketplaces. Some of these are specialist sites, e.g. Toptal is for UX/UI people.

  1. Upwork | Hire Freelancers. Make things happen.
  2. http://Freelancer.com
  3. Clarity — On Demand Business Advice allows you to ask questions first and then hire the people who answer. You can buy advice over the phone by the minute. It’s a good way to get quick answers.
  4. http://Peopleperhour.com
  5. Expert360 | Freelance Management Software
  6. Toptal – Hire Freelance Talent from the Top 3%
  7. http://Freeup.com
  8. Log In or Sign Up Linked In will allow you to search for people with those skills in your region.

After you have chosen the marketplace and the skillset you want; you will need to be expert in how to brief an agency, how to write an agency pitch and ways to select from a range of candidates for your work. That’s the subject of another question!

3 Takeaway Tips: Building an SEO strategy for Living Goodness

Anyone should know that to establish a good online brand presence, you need a good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. Keywords are a main part of that strategy – they’re more than just using the right tags to find relevant blog posts – they help boost your business’ search results so your website gets more traffic.

Last year, we helped Living Goodness develop an SEO strategy that saw them appear on the front page! And to top off the cake, it was also the first time that Living Goodness ranked higher than a competitor.

living goodness rankings

Seventh place! Not too shabby.

In this blog article, I’ll show you three key skills that we utilised for their SEO strategy, and show you how you can put them to work on your own business.

1. Identify which keywords you need

The keywords that you choose for your SEO strategy should fall into three categories:

  • Keywords you’re currently ranking for
  • Keywords you wish to rank for
  • Other relevant keywords you should also consider

For example, Living Goodness were ranking for “fermented foods nz” (though they appeared on the second page of search results). They wanted to rank higher for this search term, and also wished to show up for “sauerkraut nz”.

ranking for sauerkraut nz

Which we achieved, by the way.

We went on to conduct our own research to find relevant keywords that would complement these. A handy tool that we turned to is called Answer the Public.

This allowed us to see what users were also searching for alongside the terms “fermented foods nz” and “sauerkraut nz”. We picked up key phrases and words such as “probiotics”, “raw”, “organic” and “kimchi” alongside many more. This also gave us a good starting point for blog article ideas.

2. Incorporate these keywords into existing content

Now that we had a lovely list of keywords, we needed to disperse them around different landing pages in a natural manner. For SEO purposes, there were key points that needed keyword boosting:

  • Landing page headings
  • Links
  • First paragraphs of content

These were just a few places where we implemented keywords into the existing content in a manner that was natural and flowed. Being a business that sells fermented foods, this wasn’t a problem. We also made sure we used a mix of these keywords because no one likes repetition (especially not Google!).

3. Help out your visitors with handy internal linking

Keywords aren’t the only way to boost SEO. There are many things that affect search engine rankings, and relevance is a big contender. If people aren’t spending long enough on your website and are bouncing away quickly (tip: check the bounce rate in Google Analytics), it may very well mean they’re not finding what they are looking for on your website.

Internal links are a great way to boost SEO and retain website traffic. If you aren’t linking to your products whenever you mention them, it’s a huge opportunity wasted. You also want to encourage a longer customer journey by suggesting other pages that are relevant.

For Living Goodness, we added links to their stockists page and social media handles on the recipes pages. This call-to-action prompted visitors to seek the closest stockist after reading a delicious recipe – “Are you running low on delicious sauerkraut or kimchi? Check out your local stockist here.” The social media links also encouraged visitors to share any of the recipes they’d followed. Being a foodie Instagram account, any photos using a Living Goodness product was free user-generated content, and of course, we were going to make the most of it!

Three simple tips that you can do yourself

As you can see, these tips are all very simple, easy and free to do. Hopefully, you’re able to apply them to your website straight away.

All these were tasks that we did as part of our SEO Starter Pack. It’s a comprehensive analysis of a website with actions to improve SEO and a recommended guide for next steps.

Featured on the 302 Temp Redirect show

Thanks to Glenn Marvin of Konnector who interviewed me on his 302 Temporary Redirect Show (that’s a geek joke – a website has a 302 error code…. ).

 

5 key activities for B2B Marketing

During the show Glenn asked me what my “always on” fundamental B2B marketing activities are.  If you want to listen it’s at 18:25 through to 20:24.

  1. Database of clients, suspects and prospects.  Regularly updated.
  2. Regular communications to your database
  3. Trade shows and local in person meetups
  4. LinkedIn to recognise the names of people in your industry – and LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  5. Speaking at conferences, events and being a PR spokesperson for your trade magazine.
Karen Tobeck, CFO, Monteck Carter

Karen Tobeck our chief financial officer

If you run a business and you do not employ a CFO chief financial officer may I recommend that you examine why not?

Karen Tobeck, CFO, Monteck Carter

Karen Tobeck, CFO

I have spent two years working with Karen Tobeck and value she brings far surpasses the fee I pay.

Anybody who runs a business has three skills they need, delivering the product or service, sales and finance. Few people can do two of these. Most people can do one. Nobody can do three. This means is you must identify what you enjoy doing for your business and the one area where you need another advisor.

For me, it is finance.

Karen provides a monthly check-in with me and bi-monthly business plan goal-setting and results alignment. The key to our successful partnership is that she asks the right questions and helps me to focus with calm objectivity and external focus.

Members of my mastermind group have also hired her from their businesses. It does not matter if you already have an accountant or a bookkeeper on board. I have both and neither service is provided by Monteck Carter, Karen’s firm.

If I have challenged you today please go and look at her profile and get in touch if you would like an introductory short chat.