Business-to-Business (B2B) Marketing - An Example Strategy

An example B2B marketing guide (Updated: May 2016):

We'll discuss this plan using a fake persona - Graham - who runs a start-up accountancy firm. Imagine that he's just started running a small accounts business and that he would like to make a serious effort in taking on some new customers now that he has his service processes tested and perfected. He is only interested in serving commercial customers, so he is looking at designing a business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy.

Here are the parameters that he is looking to work within:

- He is on a small budget and wants to spend as little as possible
- He wants do do all of the work himself, reducing the need for expensive third party help
- He wants to focus on digital methods only for the initial lead generation process
- He wants to build his profile among local business owners
Business-to-Business (B2B) Marketing - An Example Strategy

Before we go forward and discuss the ways in which he could build out his marketing strategy, let's begin with a quick definition in case you are very new to this:

What exactly is business-to-business marketing?
"This kind of marketing - which is also often shortened to B2B - is the process of a business specifically targeting other businesses with it's products and/or services. This kind of marketing doesn't target the general public, or consumer - that is known as business-to-customer marketing, or B2C."
With that in mind, let's go ahead and look at how an example campaign could be planned.

What is Graham's B2B marketing plan going to consist of?

After conducting his market research and identifying his ideal target market (really important, make sure you do this), he has decided that he wants to target his market through a mix of:

- Online marketing
- Lead nurturing
- Telephone based follow-up
- Social media

He wants to keep this simple so that it takes up the least amount of time, allowing him to focus on providing the core services of his business. Of course, he'd like it to be as automated as possible too - he likes the idea of a business-to-business lead generation machine working in the background for him, 24/7.

So let's take a closer look at how he can put together this plan.

The online marketing element

Because Graham's website is brand new, he knows it's going to take a while for it to rank well in the search engines. Therefore, while that is developing, he is going to run a Google Adwords campaign in order to quickly gain the search engine exposure he needs.

For this, he would take the following measures to make sure he was only targeting relevant business users looking for his services:

- He would set the Adwords campaign to run only in the city he can provide services in
- He would add negative keywords to his campaign to make sure no ads were shown to wrong users. For example, he would add in the negative keyword 'Jobs' so that his ad wouldn't be shown to anyone looking for an accounting job
- He would schedule the ads to show mostly during the day - this is when his research has suggested his target market are most actively looking for services like his. This would conserve budget
- He would set his maximum cost per click and monthly budgets, which in this case are $2.00 and $250.00 respectively
- He will set up separate Ad Groups for each service he provides, and he will run 3 Ads in each ad group. - - That way, the ads will compete with each other and the best performing ones will end up being shown more often
- He will use his Adwords campaign to promote a free e-book he has written about important tax law revisions that are important to his target market. This e-book will be freely available in exchange for an email address, name and contact phone number.

"This would give him a basic, easy to manage search presence designed to generate the most amount of leads for the least amount of spend."

In addition to the above, Graham is going to spend half an hour or so setting up his Google Places listing, which will improve his presence for local searches related to his niche.

Update: read more about setting up PPC campaigns and you Google Places listing here and here

Lead nurturing element - email based

When Graham's web visitors submit their contact details in order to download the free e-book, he is going to make sure that the details are automatically fed into his lead nurturing system. In this lead nurturing system, he has set up an email series (made up of autoresponders) that is designed to gradually warm the new leads up into becoming new customers.

Important information for him to note in his lead nurturing reports are:

- Who is opening the emails the most?
- How many times have they opened the emails?
- Are they clicking through to his website?
- What links are they clicking on?
- Have they forwarded the emails to other colleagues?
  (most of the main email marketing providers will give you this information)

When he has this information, he can begin to score his leads in order to ascertain who are the most likely leads to become paying customers. When he has done this, he will then move onto the next part of his strategy - the phone calls.

The telephone based element - the follow up

He has decided to save telephone based work for leads who are at least warm now. Therefore, after he has identified that prospects may be interested by reviewing his email campaign data, he will make a quick call to properly introduce himself and to find out exactly what their requirements are and how he can help.

Business to business telemarketing is probably a lot more successful these days than it's business to customer counterpart, although for it to succeed you have to be very careful of how you proceed. For tips on how to do this effectively, please see my 'ultimate telemarketing guide'.

At the moment, here are a few ground rules regarding this part of the strategy:

- No cold calls will be made - only calls to warm leads who have already expressed an interest
- He wont be going for the hard sell approach - he is going for the consultative approach
- Telemarketing will only make up a small part of the process - ideally only towards the end of the sales cycle

Remember, we're not advising blanket cold calling as part of this strategy - Graham is only using the phone to call people who have already actively engaged with his business through his website and his email marketing process.

The social media element - network building

Graham realises the importance of building up his professional network and his research has told him that social media networks are an effective way of doing this. As he is focused on the B2B sector, he has chosen LinkedIn as his preferred platform - he thinks it will help him connect with other small business owners in his local area.

He will use LinkedIn to achieve the following:

- Connecting with local business owners as above
- Increasing his profile and reputation with the local network
- Building his brand through setting up a LinkedIn business page
- Keeping himself in front of his target market

This would be a medium-long term part of the strategy, although by becoming active on LinkedIn he will slowly begin to build up his online presence, he'll stand a good chance of creating new inbound business leads as the months and years go on.

He has decided to review his social media strategy in 3 months, when he will examine the potential of other networks, such as Google+ Facebook and Twitter. 

The benefits of this Business-to-Business marketing strategy

First off, it's very simple to set up, maintain and launch. If done correctly, this type of campaign should deliver an increasing amount of sales leads each month so that you should hopefully be in a position where you don't have to go to market all that often to gain new customers in future.

Other benefits include:

- It's fairly low cost - you only spend what you decide to on Adwords and the email marketing part is very cost effective too. Plans start with some providers at as low as $10 per month
- It's largely automated - this means you have more time to focus on your core business
- It's effective - studies by the Yankee Group and Eloqua have shown that businesses with lead nurturing processes in place have 80% larger sales pipelines than those who do not
- It starts to build up his profile and authority by using LinkedIn to enhance his professional network. his will help his business over the medium to long term
- It gives him basis of a solid local search presence by ensuring that a Google Places listing is set up and working for his business
Further reading

This is clearly a high-level view, written to get the basic idea across. However, if you are looking to build out a more detailed strategy, then you will find the following posts useful:

Example detailed marketing strategy
SMART planning
Buyer persona creation

Hopefully that has given you an idea as to how you can start designing your own B2B marketing plan - thanks for reading.

By Alan MacDougall

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