If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs who sell to other businesses, you might have a poor opinion of Internet marketing. You may have had disappointing results in the past—whatever you expected to happen, well…didn’t.
But let’s not forget just how important the Internet has become in all kinds of buying decisions. Now, EVERYONE starts looking for information with search engines.
People look online FIRST for solutions to business problems
B2B consumers are searching for your products/services in the same way people search for winter tires to buy. That’s why you must have an effective online presence and faith that regardless of what has happened in the past, Internet marketing can work for your business.
A recent BDC survey tells us that people making a B2B buying decision have completed more than half of their purchase decision process before speaking to a sales rep. This means they are doing their research in advance. If you don’t have an effective digital presence, you are likely at a competitive disadvantage before the phone even rings or worst case losing out on sales you didn’t even know you had a chance to win.
Your website is great but ‘Who are you?’
When trying to engage with a B2B customer online, it really boils down to your credibility. It starts with your website as a hub of information, but then extends into everything that makes up your e-reputation, including online reviews and social media discussions.
It’s about context for B2B audiences. So listen to what matters to them and let your communications reflect that. If your content doesn’t matter to them, potentially neither does your business.
The competition is online
Furthermore, if you haven’t set up your website to reflect the content and keywords your clients are searching for, there’s a good chance your competition has.
Ask yourself theacse questions. Can prospective customers find my business online? What keyword phrases do they use to do so? If you can figure that out, you’re on your way to generating content that reflects what your prospects are searching for.
Social media isn’t about Facebook…necessarily
Many of my B2B clients speak of social media as just being Facebook, “I sell Product X to Industrial Engineers, there’s no reason for me to be on Facebook.” That may indeed be the case as long as you’re certain that those customers aren’t on Facebook.
To be clear, social media isn’t just Facebook and there are many other tools out there with which to engage an audience (i.e. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest). They are all different in their purpose and how people use them. It’s essential to know how people use these channels to figure out how to engage with them.
Making connections with LinkedIn
What about LinkedIn as a medium to make connections? A good LinkedIn company page (and Management profiles) can be an effective way to show your value to prospective clients by sharing industry tips and content that is of interest to someone in your line of business. You can also join trade specific groups within LinkedIn. Using the Industrial Engineers example from above, I found these three groups:
Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE)
Mechanical Design Forum
Could you make a connection in one of those? Well, maybe.
An online connection is as good as an offline connection
I was recently speaking with a company that has begun to get a lot of business from online leads and they continue to be amazed at each new contact.
They can’t fully grasp that there are all these people out there actually looking for their niche product line. While they still haven’t refined their digital strategy to reflect their brand message, they now understand that they have an opportunity to sell themselves to online customers.
Your company has that opportunity too. It shouldn’t surprise you that prospective customers are out there looking for your product or service. That’s the way business is done these days. The question is will they find your business or a competitor’s.