Bootstrapping your sales and marketing efforts with a B2B offering is a lot easier than trying to do it for consumer-focused products or services. I've spent many years promoting B2B services to Internet marketers with budgets smaller than the weekly allowance my parents gave me as a kid. In 2002, I had the pleasure of heading up one of the early bid management platforms, KeywordMax.com, before almost anyone realized that you could automate paid search campaigns. Today, I can tell you that prospecting on a budget is a great game. I've used a few key methods over the years to reach target markets, even with a small sales and marketing budget.
1. Establish expertise. You will have an easier time generating interest in your services if you can establish yourself as one of the experts in what you do. Cost: $0.
2. Inspire word-of-mouth. Most B2B industries are made of tight networks of people who have known each other for quite some time. It's important to inspire industry insiders to talk about you and write about you. Cost: $0.
4. E-mail. E-mail is free, and it enables us to reach a specific audience quickly. It's dangerous if you do it wrong, but powerful if done right. In my experience, 99 percent of the e-mails I get from B2B folks are completely off the mark. I see things like special deals and limited time offers, messaging that has nothing to do with our business, and high-pressure, impersonal communications. You can always tell when you are sent an e-mail as part of a big blast to a list. We recommend sending e-mails one at a time - you reach less, but your impact is better. We never sell in our e-mails because the prospect doesn't even know us yet. E-mail is your introduction and first impression, so make it personalized and relevant to the recipient, or you will meet delete.
5. Capture leads. Don't forget to capture leads. Most B2B buyers do not purchase on the spot; you'll need to follow up with these folks down the road.
In addition, we've built robust tools for our sales team that work in a semi-automated way to identify prospects, find specific problems unique to each prospect, discover e-mail addresses in a responsible manner, and tie our communication efforts all together using a CRM tool.
This column was originally published in SES Magazine in August 2010.
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Lori Weiman is CEO of The Search Monitor and a columnist for Search Engine Land. The Search Monitor tracks competitors, trademarks, and affiliates on paid and organic search, shopping, local, and social media. Previously, Lori co-founded KeywordMax.com (now a division of Digital River, Inc.). Recent speaking engagements include SES, SMX, AffCon, Search Insider Summit, and Affiliate Summit. Follow Lori on Twitter at @searchmonitor.
March 19, 2014