At the end of last year, it was revealed that nearly seven out of 10 UK e-commerce brands intended to increase their marketing spend in 2017. The study, commissioned by MC & C, suggested that 67 per cent of brands would spend more on promoting themselves in the new financial year, and this is a trend that is evident across various sectors.
Whether you are marketing to consumers or other businesses, it is important that you continue to spend responsibly while seeking out free and cost-effective ways of generating more sales.
In this article, we will look at the cost-effective techniques that can help you to generate more B2B sales this year:
Leverage content to become a thought leader
The concept of thought leadership is now relatively well-known, and it is particularly important in an informed, data-driven B2B market. It is also something that creates an entry point into a long relationship partnership with your clients, and one that is built on trust, honesty and knowledge.
Make no mistake; the creation (and promotion) of informative and data-rich content can help your B2B brand to become a recognised thought leader. Content is already to be considered the king of small business marketing tactics, and B2B outlets can benefit by publishing long-form posts that share genuine insight into prominent market challenges.
You should also strive to promote this content heavily through organic channels, creating a cost-effective method of engaging clients within your industry. Do not overlook the importance of this, as even the most compelling content will prove ineffective if it does not reach your target audience.
Get active on LinkedIn
One channel through which you should definitely publish content is LinkedIn, as this makes it easier to target leading brands and potential clients within clearly-defined markets. You can even extend the reach of your content by investing in a premium subscription, which requires only a nominal fee and can provide you with access to more than 500 million professionals.
This underlines the potential of LinkedIn as a marketing and lead generation tool, and one that has offers numerous benefits whether you establish a free profile or upgrade to a premium account.
If you going to successfully network, engage clients and generate targeted leads, execution is all important. More specifically, you need to create an attractive profile that engages readers, while presenting a concise representation of your experience, skill-sets and unique characteristics. It is also imperative that you clearly define your business’s value proposition, as this increases the quality of any potential leads that are earned.
Being proactive is also central to successfully leveraging LinkedIn, so you must make time to post regularly (in the form of content and updates) and interact with other publications where appropriate.
Partner with other brands
While LinkedIn represents a relatively contemporary channel through which to generate leads, partnering directly with other businesses is a far more traditional route. It remains enduringly effective, primarily as it has the potential to reduce operational costs while generating cross-referrals between businesses.
The key is to identify potential partners that complement your brand, particularly in terms of their philosophy and the products (or services) that they sell. This creates a holistic partnership that benefits both parties, while it also ensures that you can protect your business’s reputation and the way in which it is perceived by others.
On a final note, it is important to have a clear understanding of the value that each party adds to the relationship, as this ensures that a fair and amicable agreement can be achieved.
You should also not be afraid to be creative when establishing the terms of your partnership, as exchanging services also presents an opportunity to cut operational and overhead costs.
Embrace conversational techniques such as podcasting and webinars
As a general rule, it is five times cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to attract new ones. This means that B2B brands can reduce costs by prioritising customer retention, without impacting on their reach or profitability over time.
To achieve this, your brand needs to leverage the conversational qualities of digital channels and build on the relationships that have already been cultivated.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to host regular webinars, as you look to utilise your industry expertise to discuss new trends, topics and talking points. The key is to ensure that you have the right software (such as Gotomeeting), and create an authoritative and yet conversational tone that encourages others to interact.
Similarly, podcasting also offers an excellent channel through which to engage potential clients. This infographic highlights the incredible growth of podcasting since its inception, and its popularity has created a new and exciting way to generate leads. Once again, it is important to create a conversational tone that excites listeners, while remaining true to a clearly-defined topic.
Be creative and different
On a final note, it is important that you strive to be creative and different when attempting to engage clients. While some B2B brands avoid this at the risk of undermining their professional reputations, channels such as social offer tremendous scope for the type of experimentation and casual interaction that can help to distinguish them (even in a crowded market).
In fact, we have seen a number of fun and interactive social media campaigns on sites such as Instagram and Facebook, while B2B brands are also becoming increasingly conversational in their nature on Twitter. Take Social Chain for example, as they are a fine example social media marketing business with a real difference; their founder and MD, Steven Bartlett brands himself as ‘Everyday Steve’, publishing a vlog of his every day journey on Youtube and inspiring others with his entrepreneurial attitude and positive outlook.
So there you have it; five free and cost-effective methods of generating more sales for your B2B brand. Regardless of which options you choose, it is important to emphasise the importance of creative thinking while ensuring that your marketing spend extends as far as possible.