HOW TO ATTRACT NEW CLIENTS TO YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
When businesses that function by servicing other businesses, also known as B2B, are looking for new clients, their search looks different from that of a B2C (business to client) company. Bringing in B2B customers can be a difficult process for those who are not aware of the many opportunities to do so, but businesses that are properly utilizing their resources can create an ever-growing network of business clients. Here are 4 different strategies for B2B networking.
B2B Networking Strategy #1: Personal Networking
Utilization of personal connections
When attempting to build up an initial clientele base, it can be difficult to know where to begin; starting a business is difficult on its own, and approaching businesses to ask to represent them is intimidating at first. This is why using friends and family as your own personal advocates can be extremely useful in the first stages of business development. If the friend of a business owner is speaking to someone and finds out that they are in need of the service that the business owner provides, they are likely to suggest that the person in need of help gets in contact with the business owner. This is essentially free advertising, and it can never hurt to have people who are personally advocating a business and the person who owns it. Bringing in B2B customers is an effort that becomes easier over time, and starting from the bottom truly is the best way to go about the process.
Business card distribution
Although pushing business cards on everyone around is an annoying and actually counterproductive tactic, correctly placed and distributed cards can be a good thing. Giving a card to someone that has demonstrated an interest in the business or at least struck up a conversation about the topic can ensure that the owner who gave them the card is the first one they think of when trying to reach out to a business for their service. For example, if the owner of a business that makes sports uniforms winds up speaking to the coach of a little league baseball team, giving them a card would be a great B2B marketing strategy. On the other hand, simply giving a card to everyone who the owner comes in contact with will most likely create a negative and overly-pushy environment around the business and actually hurt them. It is important to use all B2B marketing techniques in moderation so that they are public enough to help the business but not aggressive enough to hurt it.
Becoming involved in charity work is good for both a business’s PR and also their ethical standing, but it is also a great way to meet owners of other businesses who might be interested in networking. Because fundraiser events for charities are often the meeting places of successful businesspeople, a business owner who is hoping to do some B2B networking can definitely benefit from donating to charities and attending their fundraiser events. As is always the case with business, almost anyone can become a client, and when a business wants to market to other businesses, finding successful people and becoming a part of their network can be a game changer for small B2B businesses.
Even more so than at fundraiser events, business people are always going to gravitate towards entrepreneurship meetups. In fact, in many cases, these meetups are not for hiring businesses or finding companies to work alongside, but actually for B2B companies and their potential clients to meet each other in order to benefit both of their balance sheets. Startup companies (potentially including the B2B business itself) are always in need of support and the services of others, so finding those who wish to hire outsourced work is not at all difficult at conventions and meetups that are literally designed for small businesses.
Invite business owners for personal meetings
Once an initial connection has been established with a business owner – whether it be via phone, email, or face-to-face interaction – it is important to solidify the relationship with potential clients by showing them that they are more than just a checkbook. Although many businesspeople say that the golf course or tennis court are the best places to establish a personal relationship with clients (and these places can be great B2B marketing options), places like restaurants, coffee shops, or even the homes of the clients can be great for meetings that will allow a less-business focused environment to develop so that the clients become comfortable conducting business. The most important thing in establishing a relationship with clients is that they trust the business that they are working with so that they will be willing to sustain long-term dealings and benefit both parties in doing so.
B2B Networking Strategy #2: Digital/Telecom Outreach
Calling businesses (correctly)
Although the art of cold-calling is a B2B marketing strategy that is attempted by many and perfect by few, a correctly executed phone call can be a very effective method of outreach from one business to another. It is important to remember that during business hours (the hours that this phone call is going to take place), the potential client is also attempting to conduct business and make money, so wasting time or making lackluster efforts at sales are more likely going to hurt the potential for a future relationship. Any business that is attempting to cold-call another business should have a good idea of what they want to say before they call, and then be friendly and calm throughout the interaction (see our article about sales tactics to avoid for more information). If a business is able to successfully cold-call, however, they will be taking advantage of a very easy, very cheap way to gain new contacts. This form of B2B business networking is simply all about the approach.
Social media outreach
Because social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are both so popular and completely free of cost, they are perhaps the best way for new businesses to gain notoriety throughout the area in which they are located and also around the world. Promotional tools like contests, polls, and even photos/posts are great ways for small businesses looking to carry out B2B marketing for a low price to simply spread the word of their service. It is important for businesses to know their clients well enough to know which social media channels they use, however – a business looking to reach an industry whose business owners tend to be 40+ most likely will benefit more from LinkedIn advertising than Instagram, for example. If the B2B networking strategy is well planned out, however, social media reigns supreme for large scale advertising.
Customer sharing incentives
Promotional incentives that give customers a reason to share a company will almost always work, at least in getting a company publicity. Offering a customer a free subscription for a month to the service that a company offers in exchange for telling five of their friends will bring in tons of new traffic as customers always want to take advantage of opportunities to get free products. So long as the offer is large enough to incentivize sharing and not so large as to significantly hurt company profits, it will have a good chance of bringing on more leads and hopefully netting a profit for the company. Above all else, a company must consider the maximum and minimum return on investment that they will receive by using various B2B marketing techniques and then make an informed decision with this knowledge.
B2B Networking Strategy #3: Business Resources
Customer satisfaction reviews
If customers are happy with the work that a company is doing, they will tell their friends and colleagues about how great the company is when the other person needs the services that the company can offer. The takeaway B2B marketing strategy here is that simply doing a good job will bring in more clients; many businesses have the same outsourced needs, so what was good for one can become just as beneficial for another. In addition to using the word of mouth to spread positive reviews about a company, businesses can include a testimonials page on their website where customers leave reviews of the business and its service. Finally, websites like Yelp are becoming more and more visited with every passing year, so a business that has a decent amount of customers will most likely be reviewed in some form on one of these sites, hopefully for the better.
Not only do business incubators serve the purpose of funding and jumpstarting new businesses, but they also often provide resources that can help small businesses become established in their community. Contacting business incubators and requesting assistance can be a great move for new businesses that are looking to gain a larger clientele base via B2B business networking, not only because the incubator can give them money to use for marketing purposes but also because they can help to connect them with other businesses in the surrounding area. This can create a great support network, but also allow the small business to find new clients that might result in long term profit. It is important for businesses that want a competitive edge to use all of the business marketing options available to them, and business incubators should not be overlooked.
Having partners in business is absolutely essential, as no company exists in a vacuum and can function completely independently. With that in mind, one of the most beneficial ways that a business can set itself up for consistent B2B networking opportunities is to refer unneeded clients to another business with which it has connected. By developing friends and partners in the business community, a small business owner can develop a passive way to bring in clients; for example, if a medical staffing company and a sales staffing company have a sort of partnership, the people that call the medical company looking for sales staffing will be redirected to the sales company and vice versa, bringing in business to both parties. While ensuring that the firms with which one is competing is not getting extra business is important, companies that are not competing with each other can definitely benefit from a mutually helpful setup regarding B2B marketing.
B2B Networking Strategy #4: Using Education as a Resource
Publishing content that is educational to potential clients is a great way to both bring traffic to a website and also create a feeling of authenticity around the business. Even if customers are simply googling the definition or explanation of something, if the posts on a website are properly optimized for search engines (using keywords), they can be brought to a company’s website in order to find the answer to their question and in doing so be introduced to the company. After this, they will see the company as a resource and may return to it for business dealings in the future. Publishing a newsletter and emailing it to those who register is another great tactic for B2B small business marketing, as it delivers educational and sometimes promotional content right to the inbox of potential customers who will benefit from and appreciate the opportunities (so long as they are properly spaced out). Using educational content as a B2B networking tactic can be very useful if it is carried out properly.
Teaching a class/conference
Just as creating educational content online is bound to increase both outreach and credibility for a small business looking to increase its B2B networking, teaching a class or leading a conference (online or in person) will create a sense of authority surrounding the person doing the teaching. It is important to ensure that the class or conference is not overly expensive, as this way it will serve as more of a marketing tool than a profiteering one. Although education can definitely be a good money-maker for experts in any given field, the longer-term investment of teaching a class to increase publicity may often yield a better outcome as its scope is wider. Consumers, even those that are businesses, appreciate educational content and will be more willing to conduct business with a company or individual if they seem to be a figure of authority in their field.
Creating a web series/podcast
Although blogs, newsletters, and classes can be a very useful educational and promotional tool for B2B small business networking, it is no secret that videos and podcasts are on the rise and taking over the media business. Platforms like Youtube and Apple Podcasts are only going to become more prevalent, and the fact that they are free for both publishers and users means that they are easy to access and easy to use. The lack of effort involved in listening to podcasts or watching videos combined with the fact that one can listen to podcasts during a commute are great for businesses that want to advertise on a large scale. Although it can be a pretty significant amount of effort, creating a podcast or video series could be the very thing to launch any given business into the public eye and subsequently bring them a great deal of business. For businesses looking at B2B marketing strategies that will help them jump onto the cutting edge of advertising, platforms like video and podcast development are fantastic options.
B2B Networking: a Slow and Steady Process
Although B2B networking can be difficult and slow, the rewards of putting in the work to attract clients are enormous. Businesses that develop partnerships can work together exclusively for decades, so clients that are businesses can last even more than individuals. It is important for companies looking to succeed in B2B networking and marketing to expand their marketing portfolio as much as possible so that they are contacting all possible clients and making use of all opportunities.
Does your company need money to support its outreach strategies and lacks the ability to pay overhead costs? Call us today to learn about the opportunities for invoice factoring that could be the key to funding your business’s B2B marketing.