6 Industrial-Strength B2B Lead Generation Techniques

Leads: we all need them. They are the people who have, in some way, shape or form, expressed interest in our company’s products or services. Quite simply, our businesses cannot grow — cannot survive, even — without a steady stream of qualified leads. Traditional “outbound” lead generation techniques, such as cold-calling and list-scraping, continue to have dwindling results. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on digital marketing techniques for attracting and converting Inbound leads.

Understand Your Buyers

Ask yourself: What kind of leads do I want to be generating? The most important step in attracting high-quality leads is understanding who your buyer is. Buyer Personas are composite representations of your ideal customers that are used to drive all marketing and sales initiatives. Your Personas not only tell you “who” your buyers are, but also their specific goals, challenges, and questions at different stages of the Buyer’s Journey.

Create your own Buyer Personas with this Free Workbook.

By understanding the needs of your customers and prospects – as well as their decision-making processes – you’re able to create marketing content tailor-made for them. Knowing your buyers allow you to connect with them more effectively, ultimately leading to more visits and more high-quality leads.

Industrial-Strength B2B Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process by which anonymous visitors are converted into known contacts. The key to maximizing your lead generation results is to align your efforts around clear goals and conversion paths. The following techniques will help generate better leads and more of them, while super-charging your overall Inbound Marketing machine.

1. Offer Something of Value

Expecting a website visitor to provide their contact info in exchange for gated content access hinges on one thing: the value of the gated content. We’ve all been spammed, and people (understandably) just don’t want to arbitrarily give up their personal information. However, when you’re offering something of value – that is, something valuable to them, specifically – then more people are likely to oblige.

Ebooks, guides, checklists, white papers and podcasts are all great types of potential gated content, but it’s the content itself that holds the true value. This, of course, goes back to your Buyer Personas, and understanding exactly what it is that your prospects are looking for. Whether your buyers would benefit from an educational “how-to” guide, or they are looking for downloadable, in-depth case studies to better understand your company’s capabilities, make sure what you’re offering them is enticing enough to convert.

2. Manage Your Contacts with a Robust CRM

Store your contacts in a centralized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to properly manage every opportunity and forecast intelligently. The CRM is not only the place to store the leads you generate to nurture them into sales, it’s also the tool used to reconnect with older contacts or leads that have gone cold. Once your leads are in the CRM, they can be segmented, micro-targeted and enrolled in email marketing campaigns.

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Get powerful marketing and sales alignment with HubSpot’s CRM .

An optimized, properly managed CRM will help your team perfect the marketing-to-sales handoff and seal up any leaks in your funnel.

3. Keep Website Design Simple and Navigation Intuitive

There are a thousand reasons for someone to leave your website, but fortunately, there’s a powerful strategy to help keep them engaged: don’t make them think. Your website should be designed in such a way that the user intuitively travels a path that leads them to converting from a visitor to a lead (or a sale). If your site pages are too “busy,” unclear, or difficult to navigate, you’re going to lose your prospect immediately after they’ve come through the (virtual) door. Design your site around “universal” menu navigation principles and keep the most useful and actionable content above the fold to help convert site visitors into leads.

4. Feature Calls-To-Action on Every Page

Essentially, a Call-To-Action (CTA) is a link to a landing page that houses a gated content offer. This could be in the form of a hyperlink in the body of the text, or more commonly, as a button designed with clear, action-oriented language (see below).

Having a CTA on every page provides a specific action that you want the user to take on that page, ensuring that every page has a purpose in moving each visitor closer to becoming a lead and a sale.

5. Keep Tabs on the Competition

This is a must, simply because you share one deeply important and personal thing with your competitors: your buyers. Keeping an eye on the competition is a great way to determine what’s working for them (and what’s not), as well as who they’re interacting with on social channels (again – your potential customers!) and what opportunities you might have to cut into their market share (or safeguard yours against them).

6. Apply Lean Methodology to Your Sales and Marketing

Cold-calling and other “traditional” marketing techniques yield small success rates – lots of time, money and effort for limited results. Comparatively, a focused Inbound Marketing program will continue to work over time, attracting visitors, generating leads, and producing sales while increasing your search engine equity and ultimately reducing your cost-per-acquisition. The ongoing analysis and optimization work to minimize what’s not working and double-down on what is, providing a bigger bang for your buck. Applying the Lean Methodology to your sales and marketing can save your company up to 70% in cost avoidance techniques.

These are just some of the ways to produce high-quality leads through Inbound Marketing. But don’t wait. Start growing your business today by aligning your sales and marketing with the goals and needs of your customers.

Manufacturing Marketing: Using Buyer Personas to Generate Better Leads

Getting manufacturing leads can be tough. Too many industrial companies rely heavily on a solid reputation and “word of mouth” to generate leads and close new business. This passive method of lead generation is too susceptible to sporadic leads and overall business lulls. Cold calling doesn’t deliver the results it once did, because people just don’t have the patience for “interruption-based” marketing. 

To adjust to this shift in the way we do business, you need to be able to reach your buyers through a deeper understanding of who they are and what they’re looking for. Inbound Marketing is “the best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business” (HubSpot) , and the first step in building an Inbound Program is learning about your audience through Buyer Personas.

What are Buyer Personas?

Buyer Personas are semi-fictional, composite characters, representative of your real and potential buyers. This is way beyond simple demographic information. They are formed through a thoughtful, in-depth research process consisting of your sales team’s observations, industry trends, and interviews with your real customers. From that, a picture of your “ideal customer” is formed, focused on their various wants, needs, goals and challenges, as well as what kind of content interests them and where they go for information.

Personas are based on actual customer behavior, and they are the foundation for any Inbound Marketing campaign. The benefit, of course, is that by understanding your customers on a deeper level, you’re able to anticipate their problems and, in turn, provide resources to help them reach a solution.

Create your Own Buyer Personas with our Free Workbook.

How to Use Your Buyer Personas to Generate Better Leads

You’ve put in the time and done the research, and now you have one or more very thorough Buyer Personas. Great! – now what do you do with them?! It’s important to remember that your Personas aren’t ready until they are actionable.

Be sure to utilize these valuable next steps to make sure that your Buyer Personas don’t go to waste.

Create a List of Questions for Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey

Understanding what problems and questions your buyers have and at which stage they have them is the most crucial step in allowing your Buyer Personas to become action plans.

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This information will provide laser-focus to your marketing efforts, helping to reveal primary keywords, preferred content at each stage of the Buyer’s Journey, and the best content needed to help them solve their problems.

Create a Master Keyword List

From your Persona – and especially the list of problems, pain points, goals and questions at each stage of the Buyer’s Journey – you’ll need to create a list of master keywords that you’ll focus on throughout any campaign. Your master list will directly inform your blog topics, ebook subjects, and overall website content.

Create a Content Plan

Let’s put this all into action. Use your Buyer Persona information and master keyword list to create a content plan for the duration of your Inbound campaign. This isn’t just article topics; Persona-driven content includes blogs, emails, content offers (such as ebooks, whitepapers, product guides, and catalogs), case studies, infographics, video, and overall site page content.

Create New, Relevant Content

Use your Personas to create original content tailored specifically for your ideal buyers. Keep in mind their goals, challenges, questions, and problems. Focus on content that relevant to your audience, educational, and helpful. You’ll establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry and a trusted resource for your buyers.

Rework Your Existing Content

Repurpose any existing content to effectively up your content production. An old blog article or ebook may need a new spin or some new material to be relevant to a new Buyer Persona.

Interact on Relevant Social Channels

Your Buyer Personas not only tell you what kind of content your buyers crave, but also where they go for information. Don’t waste your time sharing your Persona-tailored content on social channels that they’re not frequenting. Focus your efforts on the networks that will provide the most reach and make the biggest impact.

Continue Moving Your Leads Through Your Sales Funnel

Buyer Personas are the foundation for your Inbound Marketing program because they inform and enhance your marketing at every stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Their value goes way beyond lead generation; continue using your Personas to close those leads into customers and delight your customers into brand advocates and repeat-buyers.

7 Ways that B2B Companies Can Increase Facebook Reach

Are you one of the many B2B companies struggling with your engagement, and, more importantly, your results from your Facebook marketing strategy?

Likes are great, but you need leads. Social media can produce impressive results, but not overnight. It’s all about connecting with your audience, having an open communication, and building trust over time.

Understand Your Audience, Then Target Them

We say this one a lot, but that’s only because it’s absolutely crucial. The single most important component in any marketing campaign is knowing who it is you’re marketing to. Without that knowledge, you’ll waste a lot of time and a lot of energy hoping for a home run, but wondering why your efforts are not connecting. Know who your ideal customers are and what they’re looking for.

Your audience on Facebook may be different than your audience on Twitter. Refer to your existing buyer personas – which ones are active on Facebook and what kind of content resonates and drives them.

Additionally, Facebook Insights allows you unprecedented access to detailed information about your audience, including demographics, geographical area, and when your fans are online. By measuring reach and engagement, you can also see which of your posts connected with your audience. This helps make successes repeatable – see what you’re doing right and keep doing it. See what could have been done better, and adjust.

Actually knowing your audience is the first step in any successful social media marketing strategy. This knowledge guides every decision in your campaigns, which leads us to…

Share Content Tailored Specifically for Your Audience

Regularly publish content that is valuable to your target audience. This can be educational or entertaining – it just has to be engaging.

But don’t limit yourself to your own original content – you’ll never be able to publish as regularly as you should. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% curated content and 20% original. Just keep your curated content inline with information your audience finds interesting and relevant. If your company is an auto parts manufacturer, you could share a blog post about technological innovations in automotive engineering.

Make sure your content is brief, clear and direct. And most of all, make it relevant. Relevant posts get shared. Shared posts increase your reach.

Avoid the “Hard Sell”

Don’t bombard your audience with calls-to-action (CTAs). Keep things “social” – that’s why they’re here, and that’s why you should be here.

I get it: you want results. That’s why you’re engaged in all this social networking. Likes won’t turn into leads immediately, and it won’t happen at all if they’re feeling a constant pressure to convert.

Take your audience on a journey with your brand over time. They’ll learn to trust you, they’ll keep coming back for more content, you’ll build loyalty, and those leads will start coming soon enough.

Interact with Your Audience

Your Facebook page is a two-way street, so it should be utilized as such. Don’t just churn out content – engage with your audience. Respond to posts, answer questions, and let your fans know that you’re available for them. Take polls, ask questions – get them involved. Learn more information about what interests and drives them.

Incorporate Retargeting and Pay-Per-Click

Some businesses use Pay-Per-Click as the singular strategy in their marketing campaigns, which often leads to dependable, yet less-than-ideal results. When used as one component in a comprehensive social marketing campaign, however, PPC can prove very effective.

Only 2% of website traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting allows you to show highly-targeted PPC ads that are designed specifically for those users that have already visited your site. This gives you another chance to share your best content and to promote specific content based on the audience you want.

Post Videos, Often

Posting photos used to be the best way to reach Facebook fans – and they’re still the most promoted types of posts – but the most successful posts for reaching your audience is through video.

Remember 2014’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – an explosive piece of viral video marketing that took social media by storm. How many videos of people – friends, family, celebrities, absolute strangers – dumping ice water over their heads did you watch? And you weren’t only entertained, but you were inspired by the cause and wanted to participate in the action.

Facebook now gets about 3 billion video views a day. For sponsored posts, Facebook no longer lets you include a Youtube link, so the best way to reach your audience is to upload your original video content directly to Facebook.

Facebook’s silent autoplay function for their native video is a major key to its success. In their newsfeed, fans see your video content already in motion, and if it’s interesting and engaging enough, they’re going to want to hear it and watch the rest of it, too. You’re able to reach substantially more people compared to uploading a Youtube link that the user has to click to initialize.

Keep Publishing

Everything we just talked about? Keep it up. You’ll always be striving to deliver high-quality, high-quantity content, but don’t get so hung up on quality that you fail to regularly update your page. Aim for at least a couple of updates every week.

Use your buyer personas and Facebook Insights as guides. Publish updates on your audience’s schedule, publish content that they’ll find valuable and shareable, and keep your page active and up-to-date.

Remember, keep it social, keep it brief, and always direct your fans back to your website for more information. That’s how you’ll pull your fans further through your sales funnel. That’s how you’ll turn a mere ‘like’ into a qualified lead.

Why Your Lead Generation is Failing (and How to Fix It)

Does your B2B business struggle with quality lead generation? Join the club.

B2B companies often list lead generation as the single biggest obstacle for their business, and it’s no wonder. In the world of Inbound Marketing, there are no magic bullets. There’s no one thing that will bring in a ton of leads. What Inbound Marketing does – and does very well – is attract high-quality leads through strategically-targeted, integrated campaigns. If you’re looking for overnight success, keep looking (and good luck to you). If you’re looking for steady, reliable, measurable growth, Inbound is where it’s at.

But you’ve heard this all before, and you’re probably already using Inbound Marketing in some form since 86% of B2Bs are already using content marketing.

You may be regularly updating your Facebook, blasting out content on LinkedIn, tweeting like mad and spending a respectable amount on paid search, but you’re still not seeing the results you want. So what’s the problem? My guess is lack of strategy.

At its core, Inbound Marketing can be summed up in one word: story. You can’t effectively execute any campaign without first knowing what your story is and how to tell your story to the right audience.

Know Your Story

This isn’t a slogan or a catch phrase – this is your value proposition. This is home page material: what your company does, how it benefits your customers, and why they should choose you over your competitors. It’s as simple as that. Strive to create a value proposition that is direct, compelling, and easily digestible.

If it can’t be clearly explained in one or two sentences, then it probably needs some reevaluation.

Here are some examples of companies with excellent value propositions:

HubSpot

“Grow your business. More than 13,500 companies in over 90 countries use HubSpot’s marketing and sales software.”

MPW Engineering Solutions

“A Highly-Skilled, Well-Regarded, Multi-Disciplinary MEP Engineering Firm with an Emphasis on Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection and Refrigeration Engineering Solutions.”

KISSmetrics

“Track, analyze and optimize your digital marketing performance. We show you what’s working and what’s not across all campaigns, mobile and web.”

The Criterion Collection

“The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.”

Right out of the gate, tell your audience what you do and how that would benefit them. You want to position yourself in your industry and differentiate yourself from your competition. Show them that choosing you is the best choice that they could make.

How to create a value statement in 3 easy steps:

1. Identify how your product or service will benefit the customer.

2. Link those benefits to how valuable your product or service is to the customer.

3. Position yourself in your industry and differentiate yourself from your competition.Make it clear that you know who your target customer is, that you truly understand their goals and challenges (more on this in the next section), and, when it  comes to solving their problems, choosing your company is the best choice they could make.

Once you have this nailed down – once you know your story – then it’s time to start sharing it with your audience.

Tell Your Story to the Right Audience

Buyer Personas are representations of your “ideal customers,” composited from interviews, observations, and industry trends. They’re generalized characters that emphasize the various needs, wants, goals, challenges, and pain points of your real and potential customers. You learn about who they are, what interests them, and where they go for information. But you learn more than that – more than just the Who’s and the What’s. You learn the Why’s and the How’s. These insights drive every component of the Inbound Marketing process.

After you have your value statement and your Buyer Personas, it’s time to put them to use.

Drive High-Quality Lead Generation with Buyer Personas

1. Create original content tailored specifically for your Buyer Personas

Address the needs, goals, and pain points of your ideal customers. They’re already online searching for these things, so this is your way of creating and giving them valuable information that they need. Write blogs, create videos, and publish eBooks and white papers. Discover the information that your Personas desire, then create it for them.

2. Rework your existing content

If you have a great blog post about “Tips for Effective Project Management” and you discover that your ideal customers include architects, tweak your post to be specifically about their industry. This may take as little as new introduction and a few additional sentences, or it may be slightly more involved. Either way, you’ve got the content already there and laid out, all you have to do is make it more targeted to reboot it as part of a lead generation campaign.

3. Utilize the right channels

Identify the various communities, social networks, and websites where your ideal customers spend their time. These are the places where you’ll share all of this highly-targeted content we’ve just outlined. Share and promote links to blog posts, CTAs (Call-To-Actions), landing pages, and free resources. The idea behind sharing things on multiple social platforms is simple: drive visitors back to your website for more information, and convert those visitors into leads.

4. Give away tools

Driving visitors to your website opens up a world of opportunities. One of the best way to convert visitors into leads is to give them free stuff in exchange for their contact information. This is called “gated content,” and it can be anything from “Download your free eBook” to “Request a free estimate.” All the visitor has to do is fill out a form with their name and email before the download begins. And voilà! That visitor is now a contact in your system and a lead for you to guide through your sales funnel.

5. Curate content on your social channels

Don’t limit yourself strictly to creating and reworking your own content for your audience to devour – you’ll never be able to keep up, especially on social media. You can continue to attract and engage those coveted high-quality leads using the same methods that we’ve already discussed – by sharing content that’s important to them. Even though the content is not originating with your company (and therefore doesn’t directly drive them back to your own website), your audience will continue to see you as a valuable resource for the content that they crave.

6. Personalize the experience

Let’s say your ideal customers consist of architects, electricians, and the construction firms. They all work together, but each of those industries needs different things from your business. Wouldn’t it be amazing if when each of them visited your website, your site was personalized for their specific industry? With HubSpot’s powerful smart tools, your site can do just that. If a visitor visits your site for the first time and exchanges their information for access to your free content, then your site will remember them in the system and every subsequent visit will be even further tailored to their specific needs.

If an electrician visits your site for the second time, your home page would be displayed as an alternate version just for that industry. Pretty cool, right? It is an incredibly powerful tool.

Having a strong, clear value proposition and knowing who your ideal customers are is the foundation for building all of your successful Inbound Marketing campaigns. Take this information, know your audience, perfect your story, and get started on generating some high-quality leads.

How to Increase Brand Awareness for Manufacturers

Your brand is the most essential attribute of your company, but your brand is not organized, quantified, or defined by logos and visual artifacts. They are important parts of your messaging, yes, but branding is everything about your company that helps it stand out to your buyers from your competition. It’s your name, your product, your reputation, your logo, your website, your advertising – the recognizable face of your company. It’s how others “feel” about your business and the players are customers, competitors, employees, experts, and community members.

Your brand is a “promise” that must be perceived by the people you most wish to reach. They, not you, determine how effective your brand is. Ultimately, what’s at stake is how effectively you can communicate, deliver a solution that satisfies, and meet the expectations of your prospects, while being preferred to others in your category. Your brand exists in comparison to other companies that can solve similar problems; so you don’t have to worry about the entire universe of customers and competitors, just those in your category. 

The Importance of Brand Awareness

89% of manufacturers reported “brand awareness” as the most important goal of their content marketing efforts, yet 76% of them viewed their content marketing as ineffective. So what exactly is brand awareness?

Think about it this way: if you have a rare cardiac condition, do you settle on a general practitioner, or do you seek out a specialist with deep expertise in understanding your condition, who’s on the forefront of cutting-edge solutions? Now you might think that example is extreme, but consider the risks that your your customers take when they trust you with their investments and their reputations? Brand awareness means that you are “known” by a specific audience for being “good” at something. When you’re good at something, you can attract customers who are the best fit for your products. Effective branding will improve recognition, create trust with your buyers, and help generate new customers. Your business simply cannot thrive without strong, positive brand awareness.

How are You Differentiated from the Competition?

The first step in creating a strong brand is to focus on what sets you apart from your competitors. Many a business has found extraordinary success by articulating their unique capabilities or capitalizing on their highly-specialized niche product.

So, what makes your business special? The more crystal-clear this is, the stronger your branding will be. Do you create a specialized valve joint used in the energy industry, or do you make a wider range of products with unprecedented quality? Is your customer service second to none? Ultimately, though, this is not up to your business — it’s up to your customers. It’s up to you to find out how your business is perceived and help spread the good word. Understanding what makes you you is the most important prerequisite to pumping up your brand awareness.

Tell Your Story

Once you know what sets you apart from your competition, don’t keep it a secret – craft your story. Why did you start your business? Why are you passionate about your niche? Who does your business help? How satisfied are your customers with your products and service?

Conveying this to your audience – why you do what you do and what your customers think of you – in an engaging story serves as both a brand foundation and a brand amplifier. Manufacturing can be a very technical, even somewhat “boring” industry. Humanizing your company by sharing your heart-felt story will help your buyers accept you as a real person behind the product.

Use Consistent Branding

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked. Your business needs to be represented the same everywhere. Your business name, logo, images, fonts and colors need to match across all marketing materials and all external platforms. Think of your website as “home base,” where every aspect of your brand is represented. Your social media channels, online listings, business cards, email signatures, product guides and catalogs need to all be branded identically. This ensures a consistent brand experience for your buyers and makes everything from your company easily recognizable.

Become a Valuable Resource

Embrace the fundamentals of Inbound Marketing and position your business as a thought leader in your industry by regularly sharing informative, helpful, educational and entertaining material tailor-made to address the problems and questions of your target buyers. Examples of valuable content include:

  • Blog – Consistently publishing blog articles is a great way to get new visitors to your site, as well as help keep leads and customers coming back.
  • Downloadable Content such as eBooks, product guides and catalogs are great lead generation tools and help to establish your company as experts in your industry.
  • Podcasts can be informative and educational, even conversational and entertaining. Speak directly to your target customer by hosting a podcast specifically covering their industry. Invite other specialists, in their industry and yours, to join you in discussing the most relevant topics for that specific segment.
  • Publish a Book – This one’s advanced, but certainly doable if you are a natural writer or you have one on your team. Nothing says industry leader like being a published author in your field.

The more resources you create and share, the more your business will become the go-to manufacturer within your niche in the eyes of your buyers and prospects.

Connect Through Social Media

In addition to being an avenue for sharing your content, social media channels are an invaluable resource for actually connecting to and interacting with your current and potential customers. LinkedIn, in particular, hosts the potential to move well beyond the virtual “networking” and connect with your audience on a much more meaningful level. Join a group for your target industry (or better yet, host one), where members can share tips, ask questions, and stay in touch with one another in “real time.”

Exceed Expectations

Ultimately, shaking a bad reputation and negative word-of-mouth is tough to do with any level of marketing, so the performance of your business is still paramount to the strength of your brand. It’s up to you to produce a great product, deliver superb customer service, and exceed customer expectations at every opportunity. Real customer referrals will help establish your brand as the trustworthy, industry leader that you are.

Additionally, branding is just as important internally as it is for external marketing. Without proper branding, your employees might lose sight of the purpose of your product (and, ultimately, your business) and your sales reps will lack the ability to properly articulate the reasons why prospects should buy your product.

Your brand should be the strongest, most reliable thing in your marketing arsenal. To effectively grow your business, you need a clear vision of who you are and what you offer, as well as the strategic plan to properly communicate that message to your buyers.

Grow Your Manufacturing Company with Inbound Marketing

Today’s buyers don’t want to be “marketed to.” Technology has changed the way that people and companies interact, from a consumer buying a $50 kitchen appliance to the most complex B2B industrial purchases. Today’s buyers want to research a product or service online. They want to read reviews and compare solutions. And if they do want to meet with a salesperson, it has to be on the buyer’s terms.

A lot has changed, but you already know that. Cold-calling is becoming less and less effective, and, for some businesses, you may be relying solely on word-of-mouth referrals for new leads. If you’re wanting to grow your business, these methods leave you with shockingly few opportunities. As your prospects’ buying habits change, so must the way that you market to them.

How Do You Reach Today’s Buyers Without “Marketing” To Them?

How many of you have done marketing campaigns before to up your lead generation? A common complaint among manufacturers is that sporadic marketing pushes are hit and miss, with no real way to determine what worked and what didn’t. Ultimately, one-off lead generation campaigns are a poor way to reach today’s buyers since they’ve become less receptive to cold calls and other traditional marketing efforts. The solution is Inbound Marketing.

Inbound marketing is the highly-effective, proven, long-term solution to today’s marketing challenges. HubSpot calls it “the best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business” by engaging them at every step of their buyer’s journey.

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Today’s buyers have already completed 70% of the buyer’s journey before ever reaching out to your business for sales. By only engaging with your prospects in that final stage, you’re missing an opportunity to build trust and rapport earlier in their journey. Likewise, when reaching out to a prospect through a traditional marketing push, you’re asking them to buy – to make a decision – without really being a part of their journey before that.

Inbound marketing is especially effective for manufacturing companies because it allows you to engage with your buyer much earlier in the conversation. Through helpful content, you can help your prospective buyers understand their problem in the awareness stage and educate them on possible solutions during the consideration stage. They’re already searching for solutions to their problems. All you have to do is help them find your solution.

Increase Lead Generation by Reaching Out to New Buyers

First, it’s important to identify and understand your customers. Buyer personas are representations of your ideal buyers. These are created from market research, industry knowledge, and information gathered from interviews of your actual customers. Personas are the foundation for any inbound marketing program because inbound is all about building relationships with the right buyers through content that is tailor-made for them.

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Content types by Inbound stage.

I know what you’re thinking: you want to sell more products, not blog about them. This is a perfect example of that fundamental shift in the way we do business. Today’s buyers don’t want to be “sold to;” they want to educate themselves on their challenges and the different solutions available. Blogging, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO) are all powerful opportunities to attract your buyers to your site when they’re searching for solutions to their problems.

Furthermore, offering downloadable resources is a great way to convert those website visitors into leads. In exchange for a buyer’s contact information, you provide access to more in-depth content to further help them consider their solutions. Ebooks, whitepapers, product guides, and digital catalogs are all examples of helpful, educational resources that are perfectly geared for manufacturing customers.

The more opportunities your business has to help, educate, and guide your potential buyers, the more faith they will have in your product when they’re ready to decide on a solution.

Continue Nurturing Those Leads Through Your Complex Sales Cycles

Some manufacturers’ sales cycles can last 8-12 months, sometimes even longer. How do you currently keep your leads engaged over that period of time? Occasional “Touching Base” and “Checking In” emails simply aren’t effective.

Instead of vague follow-ups, you should be nurturing your leads by helping them naturally (and painlessly) continue moving through your sales funnel. Try positioning yourself as a valuable, helpful resource rather than a pushy salesperson. Share your content that corresponds to where they are in their buyer’s journey — the decision stage.

Inbound Marketing is an Investment,
Not a Cost

Inbound marketing produces better results over a longer period of time, effectively lowering your cost per lead.

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This is not a one-off campaign that will yield immediate results; inbound is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re only worried about hitting your sales goals for the end of the current month, inbound is probably not the best fit for you. If, instead, you’re interested in producing a steady stream of more-qualified leads, month-after-month, then an inbound marketing program can get you there.

Why B2Bs Need To Be Blogging

Regardless of your industry, you need to be blogging. It’s just that simple. Companies that blog on a regular basis can not only dramatically increase their traffic, but double their leads.

If you think you’re in an extremely technical industry — such as manufacturing or MEP —  and blogging won’t make much of a difference, please allow me to show you otherwise. If you have a website, you need to be have a blog.

Choosing Topics

Know Your Audience

You can’t execute effective marketing without knowing who you’re marketing to. And you can’t write relevant, engaging blog posts if you don’t know who your target audience is and what they’re looking for.

This is where is all starts. Buyer Personas are representations of your “ideal customers,” and they outline the various needs, wants, goals, and challenges of your real and potential buyers. These insights drive every component of Inbound Marketing, from keyword identification to content creation. Let your Persona be your guide, and create blogs centered around the topics, issues and challenges that are already on the minds of your target audiences.

Project Updates

Keep your readers informed about your current projects. Take them inside the process; show them you’re proud of your work. This helps to highlight your experience and abilities.

Industry Trends

This is another topic aimed at establishing your expertise and trustworthiness. Show your audience that you’re up-to-date with innovations in your industry and theirs.

The Benefits of Blogging

Rank Higher with Search Engines

Every time you post a new blog to your site, it pings Google and other search engines to let them know that your site is active and continually updating its content. Including internal links within your blog posts that link to other pages on your site further ups your SEO worth.

Generate Relevant Traffic

With an increase in your SEO rank comes an increase in relevant website traffic. By writing blogs on topics that are meaningful to your target audience, you’ll attract relevant, high-quality visitors to your site.

Lead Generation Tool

Your blog posts should be full of useful information for your target audience, but blogs can also be a valuable lead generation asset. Add an option to subscribe to your blog, as well as a Call-To-Action (CTA) on every blog post, offering additional free resources in exchange for visitors’ contact information.

Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

Writing about relevant, valuable content that is of interest to your audience not only gets visitors to your site, but it shows them that you know what you’re talking about. Your blog is the perfect place to show off your industry expertise and gain trust from potential customers.

Strengthen Customer Retention

Keep your current and previous customers engaged by giving them an ongoing reason to keep visiting your site: new blog posts on topics they care about.

Highly Shareable

Blogs are prime original content for sharing on your social channels. This will drive people back to your site, and it has the potential of being shared by others far beyond your own social reach.

And be sure to repost blogs with LinkedIn Publishing. If your post is relevant and valuable enough, it could get featured in LinkedIn’s Pulse, showing up in the social feed of thousands of potential customers.

Conclusion

If you don’t have a blog on your site, it’s time to get on it. If you do have a blog but you’re not updating it regularly, it’s time to up your game. Building a blog takes time. Building an audience takes time. Don’t get discouraged – get started now!

How B2B Companies Can Stand Out Without Getting Into an Arms Race

Nearly 60% of a typical B2B purchase decision is made before a customer ever talks to a supplier, (Executive Board 2012). They’ve visited your website, reviewed your solutions, glanced at your LinkedIn company page, searched reviews; and they’ve done the same thing for your competitors. That shouldn’t be too surprising. Today’s B2B customer has a better grasp of her own problems and is better informed about potential solutions. So are your competitors. Your brand is easy to replicate because everyone in your category can deliver the same promise. In a me-too world, it’s tempting to always think of a new differentiating promise, as a new product.

You Don’t Always Have to Go Big

Let’s assume that your business exists in a mature industry with somewhat undifferentiated competitors and high barriers to entry. Developing new products requires engineering resources, supply chain investments, assembly, integration, management investment and and strategic guidance. The financial, human and time required to differentiate your business through new product development is risky. You better get it right.

Maybe the prevailing differentiating strategy in your industry used to be something called “quality”, but the gaps between top and bottom performers have narrowed, leaving everyone to thrash about in a shark-filled sea of sameness. Pick two: you can be good, fast or cheap, but you can’t be all three.

Which Direction to Move?

So what can you do to stand out or get there first? Getting into an arms race with the competition might not be the best strategy. If your organization lacks strategic product management, you might be missing valuable opportunities to gain market share through another strategy entirely. A move towards becoming more relevant to your customer can be the lowest initial cost – highest long term return opton.

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What Does Relevance Look Like to the Customer?

You are the Specialist

Compared to others in your category, your solutions address my specific needs. When I need a specialist, I’m going to seek you out. Think heart surgeon. Imagine that you need a good cardiac surgical specialist. Are you investigating the doctors that you are familiar with or are you inviting recommendations, seeking qualified solution providers?

You Speak My Language

When you communicate with me, you integrate my language, and address my problems. You validate my experiences in both my own work and working with others in your category. My suggestions and ideas have been incorporated into your products or your services. Compared to others in your category, you get me.

We Hang Out in the Same Places

It was great seeing you at our most important industry event. I remember that you referred a new employee to us, after I posted the job opening on LinkedIn. Your team visited our facility and provided education information about changes in our industry that had nothing to do with selling us your product. We obviously know the same people and share similar values. We should do business together.

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5 Steps to Improving Relevance to Your Customer

Segment Your Market

To begin your B2B marketing segmentation, start with a group of customers who can be grouped into categories which are: a) meaningful: they include specific attributes that will help you determine how to approach them. b) Distinct: they go in their own box and don’t overlap with other categories. c) Size: they are significan’t enough to focus on them and invest your resources on targeting them. d) Identify: You can find them.

Conduct Customer-Insights Research 

Now that you’ve narrowed down the playing fields, you need to focus on the most important players. Your investigation should strive to understand the tangible, functional, and intangible functions of their work AND personal life. You should understand their attitudes, frustrations, perceptions, preferences, challenges, and behavior. You can leverage this process and these insights to incorporate the voice of yoru customer into your marketing content. Personas, the output of this process, will help you develop specific actions that will guide your content development and your inbound marketing strategies, to attract your highly targeted audience.

Align Content with Personas

Incorporate language and problem-solution information in highly-targeted content including your offline branded collateral materials such as product brochures, and advertiseemnts. Develop case studies for the client’s specific industry. In every relevant touchpoint, leverage opportunities to distinguish your alignment, and understanding of the client’s industry.

Context Gives Your Content Additional Meaning

Your customer insights research provides clues about your customer’s behavior. By understanding the situational context of their needs and objectives, you can target the right strategies and content, at to address the right need.

Collaborate

Invite your customer to the table to listen to their feedback and aspirations, and continually incorporate their insights into your training, customer service, and communications. Together, you can create content that demonstrates your successful collaboration. Together you can better identify product enhancements, so that you can make the right product decisions for the right customers, when you’re ready.