The Most Effective Marketing Strategy for B2B Startups
If you have a start up in the B2B space, you can’t ignore content marketing. As a B2B start up you are definitely looking for ways to reach your target customers. But as a startup your marketing budget is limited and paid acquisition channels like Adwords can prove to be very costly. Here is where Content Marketing can be most effective.
As an innovative B2B startup with a unique product, you face the challenge of entering into a market where people do not know that you exist. Though there are many businesses who will benefit from your product or service, they are not actively looking for you because you are entering a new product category.
You have to reach out to them and convince them about the benefits of your product. Slowly, as your product is accepted into the market over time and competitors start appearing, people will know that you exist and will search for a product like yours. At such a matured stage, it makes sense to advertise through adwords for specific keywords that people would be searching for.
With many B2B startups, 80-90% of their target market do not know that such a product exists and they are not looking for it. That’s one of the biggest challenges that B2B startups face today.
When I was working at Exotel, we faced the same challenge. Someone who comes to know about our cloud telephony product is usually excited about it and could become our customer. But more often than not, they come across our offering by chance.
Since they didn’t know about the existence of cloud telephony products, they were not searching for it. As a marketer it is very difficult to reach people who are not looking for you.
So how do you reach such people?
You need to be present where they hang out. You need to interrupt your target audience with your marketing message. You need to get their attention by offering something that they are already looking for and then present them your new product which they are likely to take interest in.
The best way to make people pay attention to you is through content marketing. Here are a few ideas how you can be present in front of your target market:
- Guest post on blogs and news websites that your potential customers are most likely to read.
- Post videos and blog posts on your own content channels on topics that your audience is already searching for (even if the posts are not directly related to your product).
- Participate in forums, offline events, Q&A sites like quora.com and connect with potential customers.
Understand Your Target Customer
You will learn more about your target audience by speaking to them and understanding where they come from. You need to understand their needs, desires and problems. This will give rise to more insights about your market and will give you a better idea of where your target market is hanging out.
Once you get your target customers into your loop, you have to engage them. Many of your potential customers may not buy your products immediately. They have to first believe that your product will solve their problems and they have to trust you.
Build Trust Through Content
Trust and confidence can be built only through repeated communication. The best way to do that is through email marketing and blogging.
When your target audience comes in touch with you for the first time, you have to get their contact details. If you fail to capture their email id and/or phone number, chances are that they will never come back to your website and may never convert into a customer.
So you are finding out where your potential customers are and are making yourself present where they hang out. When your potential customers come in contact with you, you try your best to bring them into your loop by getting their contact details.
Once they become your subscriber you can use that permission to communicate the benefits of your product and help them remove the objections which is preventing them from buying your product immediately. Here are some types of content you can publish on your blog:
- Tips on how to use your product
- Case studies of successful customers from different walks of life
- Content not related to your product but useful to your target audience.
- A bit of humor and off topic posts to develop a good connection with your audience. (May not be suitable for all markets).
Lead Generation & Conversion
In general, “getting their contact details” is called lead generation. It is called a lead because this person could ultimately lead to a sale. The lead could become your customer.
A lead can be an email subscriber, a free trial user of your product or a person who has requested you to call them back to consider doing business with you. A lead can be a warm lead (ready to buy your product) or a cold lead.
A cold lead is someone who is checking you out but needs a lot more information and removal of objections before he/she actually goes ahead and buys your product.
A warm lead is someone who is ready to buy your product immediately.
Since you will be getting both kinds of leads into your sales funnel, you need to give them options to buy your product immediately as well as give enough information to cold leads over time so that they can make a buying decision.
If your product is a high ticket item, only a small percentage of your leads will convert into customers automatically. Since the price is higher the hesitation to buy is higher.
Inside sales is the process by which you call them back and talk with them to remove their objections in buying your products. With high ticket items, it is possible to do inside sales because the profit from each transaction is higher and it is worth while for a person to spend time talking to a potential customer.
This is much much more powerful than cold calling. You are calling only the people who have already expressed interest in your offer. There is a very high chance of them converting into a customer. I have seen 10-30% of the leads convert into paying customers with inside sales.
I hope by now you are convinced that you cannot ignore content marketing if you run a B2B startup. Once you start applying this method to your marketing strategy, your cost per customer acquisition will come down and content marketing and inside sales could become your primary marketing strategy.