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Ten Ways to Improve Your B-to-B Marketing


1. Identify your ideal customer

Selling to everybody is selling to nobody. Figure out who your target customer is. Are they architects? Homeowners? Accountants? Where are they? Worldwide? Your home town?

Once you know who you're looking for, it's much easier to find them. You wouldn't look for teenagers at an AARP convention, so don't look try to sell your prime aged steaks to ardent vegetarians.

2. Go where your customers are

Or, fish where the fish are (look for swordfish in the open ocean, not in a lake or stream. Once you have a clear target, you can focus on where to find them. Find out what associations your prospects belong to, the Web sites they read, and the events they attend.

If you want to reach accountants, check out the AICPA (a trade association for CPAs). To attract hairdressers and salon owners, check out the Beauty and Barber Supply Show.

3. Skip the gobbledygook

Talk conversationally. Use jargon sparingly, and only to show that you do understand industry issues. Speak conversationally, as if you were talking to a friend. Write "you" or "your" instead of "they" or "our clients." Talk to them (not at them).

If you sell back up and security software, skip the technical jargon. Don't stress the "automated secure offsite incremental backup, redundant connection methods, and intrusion prevention."

The average small business owner won't know (or care) what that means. Instead, say that your software cuts down on the threat of viruses and automatically keeps your valuable data safe from loss or attack.

4. Write a great headline

Appeal to your readers' pride or emotions. Stress a benefit and use a powerful headline to get attention and encourage people to keep reading.

Put two odd things together (the Yogi Berra Guide to Marketing), promise inside information (the 7 Investment Tips Your Broker Doesn't Want You to Know), or a solution to a difficult problem (Get Rid of Termites Once and For All).

5. Be remarkable

Highlight why your product or service is different from your competitors. Zappos offers free shipping and extraordinary customer service. They'll accept returns at any time, for any reason.

Apple has customer service reps who answer the phone in minutes, and a Genius Bar where you can bring your computer and get it looked at by an expert. Both are worth talking about. Their customers become fans, and spread the word. Zappos and Apple get happy customers and free word of mouth marketing.

6. Focus on benefits NOT your life story or company history

The world's most popular radio station is WIIFM (what's in it for me). Show your potential customers how using your product or service will improve their lives, make them look good to the boss, or save them money.

Use concrete results that will resonate with the people reading your site. Show HR managers that your methods increase employee retention up to 47%.

7. Test!

Try different offers, different headlines and test them against each other. This is especially effective (and easy) with email marketing. Try different subject lines and see which ones get the best open rates and click-throughs.

Start with a small part of your list (this works best with at least 2,500 names) and then expand to a larger audience based on the results.

8. Use Testimonials

Add print, video, or audio testimonials from customers. Ask your clients to tell (in their own words) exactly what benefits they've gotten from using your products; how reports that used to take 6 hours to run can now be processed in only 20 minutes.

9. Create a call to action

If you want your readers to do something — say so! Tell the customer what to do (call this number, mail this form). Try a limited time offer to increase the sense of urgency.

I read about a salesman who was making lots of cold calls, but not getting any appointments. He was doing a good job of introducing himself and explaining his product, but he never asked for an appointment. So, naturally, he didn't get any.

10. Track responses

Use a code, a separate phone number, or a specific landing page with each campaign, so you know how your prospects found you. Then, check to see which lists, ads or keywords are bringing the best leads or sales. You can then concentrate future efforts on the best performers, and avoid the poor ones.

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