With so much uncertainty at present, it seems the other noise we keep hearing is advice from people who are absolutely convinced that they have the answer to what we should be doing during this crisis. Let’s be honest. No one knows what the outcome of this situation is and, for small business, the pain is very real.
So, as lockdown continues and we’re adjusting to all these new terms – self-isolation, quarantine, WFH, furlough – let’s take a look at what we do know and it’s implications for small businesses.
Digital presence: we are all online
With nearly everything physical closed down, we are all online. This does play to the strengths of B2B companies who want to create a strong digital presence. There are those that have been doing this for a long time and there are other businesses that have spent less time creating a strong brand image.
What is your brand?
Brand image is integral to your product offer and it is the culmination of several steps in terms of identifying your unique selling points. The first place to start is not with yourself, but with your customers. You need to define who your target market is, what they want, what their pain points are, or their need and what language they respond to.
For example, at Plezi, the marketing actions that we carry out may well create certain leads for us now and they allow us to generate business in the short term. We also hope that those leads will be useful, but we can never be sure.
On the other hand, what we do know is that every single marketing action has a value for the long-term good of the brand. It is how value is created and, although that benefit may not be seen on the books at the end of 2020, it will plant the seeds to create a stronger brand after the crisis is over. This is why concentrating on brand is so important, as, long term, you can capitalise on this work and move faster.
You may think you already know how to communicate to that audience, but creating a real buyer persona can be useful in terms of really understanding not only your target audience but also partners, industry experts and employees. There are some useful sites that can help with this. Answerthepublic is a free tool that can give you insights into what your audience is searching for, while Rand Fishkin’s Sparktoro dives deep into your buyer persona – who they are, what they look at and what they discuss.
Secondly, you need to establish your short-term and long-term business goals. Create targets and critical steps in order to give yourself a roadmap of where you want to get to.
Third, there’s your competition, how they communicate, what they offer and what differentiates you.
What do you do?
From these steps you will be able to identify your brand through two things – your key message (the language you use to describe your product which speaks to your target audience) and your brand persona (what makes you different, what are the benefits of your product, how you discuss it in simple language and how it cuts through).
How do you express that?
The main area to communicate this has to be your website. Your offer needs to be displayed clearly and ergonomically and it has to be quickly identifiable to anyone browsing your site. Each page should have a reason for being there and there should be logic as to why visitors are directed to each page.
But after your site comes content. Blogs, articles, whitepapers, webinars; all of these are extremely important to cut through the noise of your competition, to generate traffic to your site and, of course, to communicate your brand. Regular, informative and detailed content can make a real difference in B2B marketing, where your audience is niche or targeted, or they need to find the answers to their pain points, which you identified when creating your brand.
Why do it?
With up to 60% of the sales cycle done online, without anyone talking to your company, content can educate, elucidate, convert, hook and nurture your potential audience. You can go further than simply creating content to draw people in; you can accompany them as they go on their buyer’s journey through your site, nurtured by the different types of content you have.
Added to your site and content, there is social media, which can act as a megaphone to the different and regular content you produce. It is a great way of getting information out there and an interesting way to build up a community through frequent, informative contact.
SEO is all-important, and not always so easy to get right. You will need to rank well for certain keywords and topics. Again, content can help with this as a way to drive you up to higher rankings.
But once you start to create this content, how does it convert into something real? This is where lead conversion comes in. As we spoke about the marketing funnel before, you can create different types of content for leads in different parts of the sales journey.
Optimum content – whitepapers, kits, exclusive articles – can feature a call to action (CTA), which means that the visitor needs to leave their details before accessing the premium content. CTAs are a unique way to convert visitors to leads, to understand your leads’ interests and to identify your website visitors.
Great, I hear you say, but I haven’t got the time for all of that. Maybe some content here and there, but I’ve got a lot of things to do.
This is where automation can help you. Firstly, with an inbound marketing solution, you can analyse and assess the effectiveness of different content and where it is published – not only through visits but also by conversion, a much more indicative figure.
Secondly, you can use that software to automate the correct message to your leads. Inbound marketing means that you are able to direct your efforts on those leads that need be contacted by your salespeople now, rather than wasting their time on those that are not interested. Meanwhile, the software itself will help qualify and nurture existing leads as they discover your offer in more detail.
Are you interested in learning more about inbound marketing? Click here to download our white paper on what marketing automation can do for you.
John Hughes is a business developer at Plezi for the UK