Marketing terms often make it seem like rocket science, but really, marketing is mostly common sense. You've likely heard people throwing around the phrase "marketing strategy" as if it's a highly complex and technical process.
But it's not. Having a marketing strategy means having a plan. And just as there are many ways to live your life, so are there strategies to market your business.
The B2B vs B2C marketing strategy
It's a common notion that marketing to a business is different from marketing to a consumer. This is true. But it's also true that whether you're B2B or B2C, you're speaking to humans. This is the most crucial element when creating a marketing strategy. You're speaking to people like you and me, but because of the nature of your product or service, these folks are in different mindsets.
If you're marketing ergonomic chairs for a corporate deal, you'll be talking to an HR or Operations Manager. However, if you're marketing the same ergonomic chair to a visual designer working from home, you're likely talking to someone trying to get work done without straining their back. Though the people are fundamentally the same, their wants and needs at the time are different. Once you understand this, you don't have to think about different B2B and B2C strategies. You can essentially use the same strategies and modify them to the audience you're addressing.
There are many marketing strategies you can adopt based on your industry, business size, and the audience. However, there are a handful that work well regardless across the board. Here are the top three:
Content and SEO marketing: Even those who don't work on a computer full-time spend about 4-5 hours daily consuming content on various devices. We're constantly reading articles, watching videos, scrolling through pins, glancing at infographics, and swiping on stories. Use this to your advantage; create content that'll help you connect with your audience. This includes content like blog posts, webinars, workshops, ebooks, web pages, courses, and newsletters. As you generate content, ensure that you're also responding to search demands. This is the essence of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. You analyse what your audience is looking for, in terms of phrases, words, topics, questions, and answer them in your content. This will help you "be found" on search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing.
Social media marketing: Social is the easiest form of marketing to get started with. However, it's more than just having a Facebook fan page and updating daily hours. Social media marketing revolves around your community—the audience who cares about your business and supports you. Based on your business style, industry, and size, choose the channels that make most sense to you. Be mindful, though, social media marketing can take a lot of time. If you're a smaller business with limited resources, start with one highly-relevant channel and expand from there. Many Australian small businesses do exceptionally well on Facebook and Instagram even without a full-fledged website. We'd still recommend setting up a website for content and SEO purposes,so you can have an engaged community even if you're only on one or two social channels.
Referral programs: Whether you're a B2B or B2C organisation, happy customers can bring you more customers. Focus on delivering a great customer experience and they'll automatically refer you to their friends and family. This isn't always formal, though. In fact, think about your favourite restaurant and how you first found out about it. Chances are, your friend or colleague invited you there for a meal or mentioned it in a conversation. Leverage this natural tendency to build up a referral program, not only to encourage happy customers to spread the word but also to show your appreciation.
Content, social media, and referrals are universal marketing strategies. No matter who you're selling to and what, you can successfully use these three strategies. They're particularly suitable for small businesses because they're easy to implement, require less initial investment, and give you lasting results, all of which are essential to sustain business.
Now let's look at a few other strategies that are more suited for specific types of businesses.
Effective marketing strategies for B2B organisations
Search Engine Marketing: This is all about running ads and promotional material on search engine results pages (such as Google Adwords) and on third-party websites (such as ads in online magazines). With SEM, you can achieve a broad range of goals, including generating awareness and traffic to your business, getting leads, and running seasonal offers, discounts, and giveaways.
Account-based and community marketing: Almost all B2B companies have key account managers who build and maintain relationships with their high-value customers. The nature of B2B structures allow these companies to build user communities and networks so they can send targeted promotions to these groups. Activities include upselling, cross-selling, and media engagement. But remember: to succeed in marketing to key accounts, you need to ensure they consistently have high-quality support. You might even need dedicated resources for priority support.
Paid media and PR: Bigger B2B companies often establish media relationships to help promote their businesses. This includes speaking with journalists, evangelising, and securing mentions in popular mainstream media such as online magazines, newspapers, and television. Paid media is an outbound marketing activity, and because of its ongoing expenses, it's ideal for businesses who have a strong reputation or the resources to invest in media.
Events: Based on how you approach them, events can be an expensive strategy. If you're a larger company with a global presence, you might consider hosting physical or remote events across the world (like Zoholics), or enabling your local communities to run events such as Community Meetups. You can also attend other business conferences to showcase your offerings. Event marketing can also extend to running workshops, webinars, round table conversations, and more, both online and offline. The key is to find the right balance of events so you can manage your budget efficiently and reach a broad audience.
Email marketing: We'd go so far as to say email is the most essential marketing strategy for B2B companies. Not only is it great for you to stay in touch and update your existing customers, but in some cases, an effective email newsletter can also help you convert high-quality leads.
Effective marketing strategies for B2C organisations
Earned media: Many B2C companies thrive on community support. Particularly if you're a small local business selling services or unique products, you'll (hopefully) develop a group of loyal customers eager to promote your shop. Be on the lookout in local magazines, newspapers, television, and radio channels for their periodic features on local businesses. As you become popular and influential in your community, you'll have a higher chance of getting attention from the regional media because you already have a powerful fan base.
Co-marketing: If you cater to individual members of the community, your brand becomes more approachable and relatable when you partner with other businesses like you. These co-marketing campaigns will increase awareness, but more importantly, they benefit your customers. Think about Coles partnering with Masterchef contestants to develop ready-made meal kits and recipes. While the companies gain brand recognition, customers get (mostly) affordable and easy meals.
Word of mouth: Customers love to buy local whenever possible. However, for them to like you and recommend you to their friends, you need to give them a good customer experience. Focus on delivering great experiences and you'll naturally gain a fan base. These people will not only talk about you, but they'll also promote you on social media, review you on Google My Business, and return to you for more business.
Direct marketing: This involves directly promoting your products or services to your audience. Though there are a range of activities that fall under direct marketing, some, like telemarketing, distributing flyers, and text messaging are ideal for B2C businesses. Be aware, though, most direct marketing activities are bound by Australian Government regulations and privacy laws. Before you start a campaign, do your research and know what you can and can't do. Here's our guide to direct marketing and the regulations you need to comply with.
Even though we've categorised these strategies under B2B and B2C, they're not exclusive to one or the other. Regardless of your audience and business size, if you have the resources to implement these strategies, you will certainly see great results.
Well, there you have it. When it comes to marketing your business successfully, you have a lot of options. The key is to identify which ones you can carry out without depleting your resources. It's easy to overwhelm yourself by wanting to do everything at the same time. Know your strengths and budget limitations and then form a marketing plan. Whether you choose two or ten of these strategies, your success will depend on how well you can maintain them consistently.