Growing a business can be hard, but it’s the only way to survive in today’s competitive market.
Even if rapid growth is not your goal, you will still lose customers over time – so you will have to maintain your marketing momentum month by month.
So what’s the best way to grow your business?
Let’s start with a reversal exercise – what would you need to do to ensure you didn’t grow – or worse, lost business?
Think for a moment.
What steps would you take, or not take, to ensure your business shrank?Here’s a list I’ve come up with:
- Be invisible – no web site
- Never be found – never create anything that the search engines might be able to index, list and that potential buyers could find when searching
- Never produce anything helpful that would educate the customer and help them with their problems
- Never tell anyone anything
- Don’t support your customers in any way
- Don’t let your customers or prospects talk to you
- When people do buy, give them a very poor experience
- Have a sub-standard product or service
I am sure you could come up with a few more.
The point of this is, that it is often easier to come up with a list of don’ts rather than a list of do’s.
For some reason we all know what we shouldn’t do, but we sometimes find it difficult to know what we should be doing.
So now, let’s turn that exercise on its head and look at what we can do to grow a B2B business.
Make sure you're being seen
Building growth begins with being found.
Clearly, this starts with having an accessible, search engine friendly web site and a presence on the major social media channels. We talk about content being king because the more content you publish, the more the search engines will list it and you will be found by your potential customers.
Mind you – it can’t just be any old content. Firstly, it has to be interesting to the search engines – there is a hugely complex set of algorithms that search engines use to determine what they list and how much priority they give it.
Nobody (apart from the search engines) really know what those algorithms are – but we do know that once you’ve covered the basics – original content, responsive web site, mobile friendly and the like, then it comes down to creating content that people are actually searching for.
Write for your buyer personas
Secondly, the content has to interest your potential customers. You can produce great content that people search for, but if those people aren’t your customers – you are wasting your time. The content has to be targeted at potential buyers.
This is where personas fit in. Defining a persona that ‘profiles’ your typical potential buyer(s) will help you to target your content. Then that content has to be good quality information that is both useful and timely.
If your prospects like it and click on the link in the search engine to read it – then that will feed back to the search engine and improves the likelihood of the search engine listing it higher in the rankings, making it more likely to be found and more likely to be clicked on – and so on, and so on.
Remember that by the time your prospects make the decision to buy, they have already defined their problem and its potential solutions by research on the internet.
If you aren’t part of that research – they are unlikely to choose you.
Be part of the conversation
Today we live in a sharing world – a world that – for many people – revolves around social media. Even in the B2B arena, the social network LinkedIn plays a massive part in networking and gaining new business.
You need to ensure that you are part of those networks, sharing information about your company, answering questions, being helpful, blogging and engaging with customers and potential customers.
Social media is also great for getting the word out – if you have new content or news or are organising an event, seminar or conference – social media can be utilised to publicise it.
You can encourage engagement by asking questions, running polls, creating teaser campaigns and involving your audience by getting them to produce content through competitions, hash tags for sharing, guest blogs and the like.
You can use social media to support your customers too – not just because you may get repeat business from them or they may buy additional products and services, but also because they can become ambassadors for your company.
If you can delight them and keep them happy, they are likely to tell their peers about you, to share your content and ultimately, recommend you. Nothing is more powerful than peer to peer recommendations for growing business.
Make it easy to get in touch
With all this content, make sure that you remind your audience to contact you through calls to action. In fact, everything you produce should have a call to action. And make it easy for prospective buyers (and customers) to contact you – through phone, email, chat or messenger apps.
Growing your business ultimately comes from developing your existing customers and gaining new business. In today’s marketing landscape, that means publishing search engine friendly, targeted content and then spreading the word via social media.