Note from Jonathan: You’re busy running your business. How can you possibly keep track of your marketing efforts, especially when the list of available tools gets longer every hour? Our colleague Morrie Goldman penned this helpful list of resources for business-to-business (B2B) marketing that will send you in the right directions.
By Morrie S. Goldman
Definitive Marketing, Evanston, Ill.
Web Sites and Blogs
If you don’t have a Web site and you are in business, you need one! If you have one that’s more than a few years old, you probably need to re-evaluate it. Look at competitor Web sites for comparison, then try searching your keywords or business category on Google and see if you can find your site. Talk to an experienced marketing communications professional.
Limited funds? Build your own basic Web site from a variety of templates, from web hosts like these.
These low-cost hosting providers offer many good templates:
- godaddy.com/hosting/Web site-builder.aspx
- intuit.com/Web site-building-software/
Better solution: learn how to build a site in WordPress or have a pro build it for you. This open-source (no charge) software is also the most popular for creating a blog. Learn much more at wordpress.org.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engines use algorithms to match a search query with content on popular Web sites that closely relates to that topic. The techniques that a Web site owners uses to rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP) is called SEO. A lot of SEO tweaks can be done that are allowable and even recommended by Google and others, but some techniques can make your site disappear. In other words, it’s not nice to try to fool mother Google. You can do a basic job yourself (when you learn the techniques), hire someone to do a basic optimization or hire an SEO specialist, (expensive). You can’t buy better rankings from Google and no SEO specialist can guarantee top rankings. If they say they can, run away!
- www.inc.com/magazine/20100701/how-to-optimize-your-site-for-search.html (kind of dated, but a good starting point)
- Google’s SEO Guide: http://goo.gl/LRmZa
- www.wikihow.com/Optimize-Your-Web site-for-Search-Engine-Use
If you already understand the basics , visit: searchenginewatch.com/
Grade your Web site: http://goo.gl/rVzhu (various free online tools to check your Web site)
There are endless sites that sell advertising on-line and many of them allow you to zero-in on regions, business categories, demographics and more. You can buy text ads or banner ads (which are graphics). Text ads may be sold on a per-click basis (Google Adwords is the best known), cost-per-thousand exposures, or a fixed price over time. Banner ads come in all sizes and shapes and are not usually sold on a per-click basis. On-line advertising can be cheap or very expensive. The process can be simple or very complex, depending on how much science you want to apply. A few places to learn more:
- entrepreneur.com/article/174914 (15 Web sites to promote a local business)
- Trade publication newsletters, social media sites, local business sites (Yelp, Yellow pages, Yellowbook, Craigslist, etc.)
Other Advertising Media
Print is not dead! There are also opportunities in local radio, cable, outdoor and others. Best to consult with a marketing communications pro first, because commitments are greater than online and results are harder to track.
If you have something to say about your company, services, products, events or industry, share it with the press! Read this book or hire a pro (even better, do both):
“The New Rules of Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott.
Short and sweet. If you don’t have a personal Linkedin page, create one today. If you don’t have a LinkedIn company page, create one tomorrow. Depending on what kind of business you have, evaluate whether you could benefit from business pages on Facebook, Twitter and others.
It’s a good idea to at least create accounts to protect your name. Be aware that while basic usage of social media sites is free, your time is not. To do it right, you’ll need to devote a lot of time in these sites or hire someone to do it for you. In any case, learn more about social media. It isn’t going away.
Also consider advertising on social media sites. It’s expensive, but if you know who you want to reach, you can zero in.
Business Cards, Envelopes, etc
Unless you are skilled as a graphic artist, don’t make your own logo or business card. If you are on a tight budget, but still want to look professional, check out the stock card designs from these companies:
If you don’t have a logo, consider having one designed. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of it. For a full corporate identity or branding program, see a marketing professional or an artist with experience in business graphics.
This is the “live” kind. Unless you are job hunting, look for and attend networking groups where you are likely to meet potential customers, not peers. Create and practice a 10- to 15-second elevator speech that sounds unique and ideally, builds a bit of curiosity to learn more. Check: meetup.com, business meeting calendars on local media Web sites. If you are an expert a topic of interest, look into speaking at a conference or trade show attended by prospects.
Snail mail is not dead. But it’s very important that you have a really good list. Two really simple ideas that get results:
A personalized letter (with a P.S.) on business letterhead can often break through barriers that block your phone and email attempts. Include a piece of literature and a simple response vehicle, such as a business reply card or fax-back form.
Color postcards have become very economical. Use them to build awareness of new products or services or promote special offers. Include a QR code to bring smart phone users to your Web site (QRstuff.com). See printers listed under business cards.
So, you want to send monthly emails to your customers and prospects? It’s best if you do this via one of the commercial services. Some popular ones are listed below. All of these allow you to choose and modify a pre-made template, store and maintain your list and view analytics of how many opened your email, took an action or opted out.
All offer free trials.
See how your Web site ranks against competitors:
A lot of secondary research is available free if you look hard enough, from government organizations, trade media publishers, trade associations. Commercial industry studies can be costly to buy, but might be available at a university or library. Start by talking to a good reference librarian, on-line searching and making phone calls.
Do your own primary research free with surveymonkey.com It’s an easy-to-use tool, if you already have an email list.
Visit relevant trade shows and ask vendors questions. It is surprising how much can be learned at these events.
Morrie Goldman founded Definitive Marketing 14 years ago. He has a master’s degree in marketing communications from Roosevelt University, began his career with Bell and Howell and has held senior-level positions with two advertising agencies. His approach is to become an integral part of his B2B client’s marketing teams, often becoming a surrogate marketing manager or marketing communications manager.