Cold calls, trade shows, spec sheets, brochures, more cold calls. Supply chain marketing can be monotonous. For the thousands of businesses out there that sell to companies who sell to other companies who in turn sell to the end user, marketing isn’t about flashy ads or big consumer marketing budgets. It’s about generating awareness among very niche markets and establishing, developing and maintaining strong customer relationships. But are there more effective ways to accomplish these goals? Yep. Here are five good starting points.
1. Answer common customer FAQs with robust content
One of the best ways to gain awareness and generate website traffic as a B2B supplier is to simply answer the questions your customers ask you on a regular basis and post them as separate pages on your website. This may sound counterintuitive. If a prospect doesn’t know who I am, how can I answer their FAQs? Well, the truth is that they’re probably going to ask similar questions in Google searches. And if you’ve stated those questions and sufficiently answered them in the form of blog posts or pages on your website, Google will point them in your direction. Once written, you can also email links to these blog posts to current prospects and customers. After all, you’re the expert and they value what you have to say.
- Write down three questions you often receive from prospects during the sales process. Think about how you typically answer those questions. Then write down your answers in a few paragraphs and work with your marketing team to post them as separate pages or blog posts on your company site.
- If you don’t have a company blog, or this sounds intimidating, read our post about The benefits of B2B blogging to learn a bit more about its importance as a supply chain marketing tool.
2. Give in order to get
Consumers guard their personal contact information today more than ten years ago. Yet email addresses and phone numbers remain the “currency” of B2B lead generation, and prospective customers will still “pay” you with that info under one condition: you give them something of value in return.
As a marketing strategy firm that specializes in industrial and supply chain marketing, the single strongest lead-generation tactic for our clients has been the downloadable guide. What (non-proprietary) information can your company package in the form of a downloadable PDF, post on your website and ask for a name, phone number and email address in exchange for it? For one of our clients – an industrial painting company trying to reach general contractors – it was a white paper called What to Consider When Hiring an Industrial Painting Contractor.
What’s the equivalent for your businesses? This concept is simple. Exchange your expertise for permission to start a conversation with a potential customer.
- Talk to your sales team (unless that’s you). Compile a few pages worth of content from sales decks or company literature that can provide value to your prospects in their vendor research process. Button it up and package it with a catchy title and work with your marketing team to place it behind a lead-capture page on your site.
3. Invest in lower cost, higher return, trackable advertising opportunities
Have you ever run a print advertisement in an industry trade publication? They’re not cheap! Sometimes a quarter page ad can cost a few thousand dollars or more to run once. Tracking effectiveness is no simple chore either. So what about this idea instead? Many of these same trade publications offer banner ads or email newsletter ads for as little as 10-20% the cost of a printed ad. And guess what? Because those ads are clickable, they’re also trackable. Try an experiment. Run a print ad that drives to a lead-capture-equipped page on your website. Now you’ll not only benefit from awareness generated by the ad, but also create opportunity to collect that valuable contact-info currency from a prospective customer.
- Contact some of your industry’s trade publications and request the pricing for their website banner ads and e-newlsetter sponsorship ads. Request data on the amount of traffic their website receives and the size of their email distribution list to evaluate opportunity.
- Run a campaign for three months with the right measurement systems in place to track effectiveness. Then evaluate the results.
4. Manage business leads with a CRM system
CRM stands for “customer relationship management.” As part of a B2B company, managing customer relationships is probably a familiar subject, but are you effectively managing and tracking your leads in an organized way? CRM systems like Salesforce, Highrise or SugarCRM provide a platform for you to record info on conversations, store email dialogue, set follow-up reminders and sync with your email marketing database. In short, a CRM system bridges marketing and sales to assure no prospects are forgotten or neglected.
- Watch a free demo of Salesforce – the industry-leading CRM software. Seeing it in action may open your eyes to a CRM’s place in the supply chain marketing process.
5. Support business development with email marketing automation
No two leads are created equal. And because your time is limited, you can’t spend the same amount of it with everyone. Email marketing automation lets you craft chains of marketing emails ahead of time and distribute them to prospects based on demographics or actions taken on your website. Whether you segment your lead database by industry, job title or hot/cold leads, automated email campaigns help you target your marketing messages for each individual.
- Read our post about automated email marketing to learn more.
- Then download our bigger picture guide: Enhancing Business Development with Marketing Automation.
Gorilla 76 works with hard hat-wearing companies in industries like construction and manufacturing to generate and nurture leads online. We offer lots of free resources here on our industrial marketing strategy blog and through our downloadable guides like those that follow. Thanks for reading!