The idea is simple: grow your B2B, industrial, or manufacturing business with inbound marketing tactics and some basic sales ideas. These are all pretty basic but in our experience many companies we talk to are not doing these or at best only a few of them. So if you are trying to grow your business, and who isn't, you should consider these easy to implement ideas before spending a lot of money on ads or other outbound marketing efforts.
1. Manage your contacts
Regularly clean, review, and update your database. Make sure you are capturing all of your contacts from any source in one central database. Databases degrade a significant amount every year, up to 15% in some industries. Make sure you are removing old contacts, updating contact records for you customers, and reviewing who is active in the database. You do not want to keep sending messages to prospects that do not engage with your emails.
If you are not sure how well you are building and managing your contact list then I suggest this be priority #1 if you want to grow your business.
Nothing is more important to your business than your contact list. Treat it as such.
2. Fix your website already
Keywords are hugely important when it comes to inbound marketing. Keywords are the main reason your website ranks on search engines, which is one important way people find you. People need to find you before they can become leads. But like everything in inbound marketing, it's all about attracting the right kinds of people so that they can become good, qualified leads.
Before you can start optimizing for keywords, you need to get cracking on your keyword research and focus on long tail rather than high level keywords. High level keywords are tempting to focus on because they are often intuitive. If you manufacture laser marking systems, then "laser" is likely to be one of the first keywords you think of.
There are a couple of problems with high level keywords, however. First, high level keywords tend to have a lot of competition. If you thought of "laser", so did all of your competitors. This means it's going to be much harder to rank higher for these types of keywords.
Second, high level keywords don't offer a lot of differentiation in searches. "Laser" is a very broad term and covers a huge range of specific types, purposes, industries, sizes, etc. Which leads us to the third problem; high level keywords are lousy converters. Someone searching for "lasers" is probably not ready to make a purchase. On the other hand, someone searching for an "air cooled 20 watt fiber laser" is much more likely to be ready to make a purchase.
Once you start your keyword research you should group your keywords into clusters around a particular topic. So for the above example the core topic might be "laser marking systems'. The associated topics would be:
- laser marking equipment
- system for laser marking aluminum
- stainless steel laser marking system
- laser marking machine
- medical laser marking systems
Each of your main topic clusters should have 5-20 associated keywords. This strategy signals the search engines that your site is an authority on the central topic. Use one page on your site to create detailed helpful content around that central topic and link other pages and blog posts that detail the associated topics to it. The core page is your pillar page for that topic.
If you do your keyword research and create great content that your target persona finds helpful then you are on you way to fixing your website.
3. Update all of your owned media
Owned media includes your website, sales literature, social media channels, email, trade show, sales team, your lobby, and anything else that you directly control. Many companies make the mistake of jumping into paid media before they maximize their owned media. One way to think about owned media is to consider where you could promote an e-book, to give just one example. Think of all the places you can share this e-book where people you want to influence would find it - the target audience could be prospects, customers, partners, vendors, connectors, or anyone else you think might be interested in this particular piece of content.
Make sure your messaging and content is about them and not about you. Pretty easy to say but so few companies actually do this. Buyers don't care about you. They care about the job they have to do and how to get it done. Talk about them.
Maximize your owned channels first, take full advantage of what you already have before you move on to paid and earned media.
4. Create new content targeting ideal prospects
Long tail keywords can help you create new content that is highly focused and relevant to your ideal prospects. Long tail keywords let you know the specific areas of your business that your prospects are interested in, so think of them as writing guides.
If one of your long tail keywords is "air cooled 20 watt fiber laser" brainstorm all of the things you can think of having to do with air cooled 20 watt fiber lasers. You could create compare and contrast articles, buying guide white papers, or best practice blog posts. Whatever content you create, however, is going to help you rank for a long tail keyword that your prospects are looking for.
The key to growing your business is finding the best way to be in front of the people who need your product or service. Long tail keywords are a great way to do that because they let you know what your prospects are searching for, and give you the ability to create content that will allow you to rank for it. Long tail keywords put your website in front of prospects.
5. Get Everyone Prospecting
Are your sales and service people using LinkedIn to connect with peers? Is everyone thinking about connections in your industry, your suppliers, partners, and trade associations to find ways to connect to your ideal prospects?
Use your great new content to educate and help them so they will consider you when they are ready to solve a problem.
Are you being helpful with your marketing and content or are you pitching features and products? Stop doing that please. Buyers only want help, period. They need to get their jobs done and you better be helping them. in fact, they want you to find them as long as your helping them. Prospecting does not fail because no one is listening. Prospecting fails because the prospector is selfish and just pitching a product and is not being helpful.
6. Call your customers
Understand how to add more value and call them. Pretty simple but I am constantly surprised how few companies do this simple thing. Keep in touch with your customers, ask relevant questions, and listen so you can help them. Think about helping them more and not just selling them more. Help first and the sales will follow.
7. Ask customers for referrals, testimonials and case studies
Have a plan, know how to ask and why you deserve a referral (remind them of the value you bring to them), and make it easy for them to refer you. Write an email for them so it becomes easy for them to send to a target prospect. Or write a great case study that they can forward, You need to educate your customers about your ideal prospect and then ask them to refer you. If you are delivering value for them they will be happy to make an introduction. Not only because they want to help you (the reciprocation principle) but because it makes them look smart (see how smart I was to buy from these guys, they solved our problems).
8. Follow up on your open quotes list
About a week after being promoted to my first VP Sales job my boss walked in my office and asked how the week was going. I said "great, we have done 7 quotes so far this week." He answered, "Son, we don't sell quotes here."
Like trade show leads that are never followed up, a quote that dies on the vine is a waste of everyone's resources. Do fewer quotes by targeting your ideal personas, qualifying more deeply, and use the quote to confirm what has already been agreed on and you will not need to follow up as often. When you do follow up make sure your quote follow up is value added and includes helpful information. Do not just call and ask when you are getting the PO or send an email wondering what's up with the quote. Be a pro and keep helping them with their issues and they will remember you when it is time to make the purchase.
None of these cost much $, all they take are effort, focus, and attention.
For more ideas on growing your business, check out these posts:
- Connecting to Customers: Grow Your Business by Becoming an Inbound Organization
- How to Use Content to Grow Your Business
- Is Your Business Ready For the Storm?