Companies that sell products or services primarily to other businesses face a tough challenge when it comes to marketing. Your customers are likely well-versed and experienced in what they do, so you must not only persuade them to buy from you, but also communicate that you’re an expert in your industry or field.
If you can demonstrate that expertise, half the marketing battle is won because your name recognition and reputation alone will likely generate positive interest in your products or services. So, how do you elevate yourself to this vaunted position? One way is to use business-to-business (B2B) media to get your name and know-how out there.
3 common approaches
B2B media, what we used to call “trade publications,” now encompasses a wide variety of content. Print publications still exist, but much of the activity has moved online to websites, blogs, social media platforms and podcasts.
You might be able to name the top B2B media outlets in your industry off the top of your head, or maybe you need to do a little digging. After getting a good sense of your options, consider one or more of the following three approaches:
1. Send out press releases. Launching a new product? Hiring a new executive? Opening a new location? When your company has big news, getting the word out to the B2B media in a press release can raise your profile with customers and prospects.
There are various best practices for sending out a press release. Include the who, what, where, when and why of the topic. Add at least two sentences from you or a company executive that can be used as comments in an article. If appropriate and available, incorporate customer testimonials.
Traditionally, press releases are submitted with a news kit that includes a fact sheet on your business, profiles of key team members, complete contact information, and, in some cases, professional photos.
2. Write bylined articles. If you know of one or more industry publications that would be a good fit for your knowledge and experience, and you’re comfortable with the written word, submit an article idea. Getting published in the right places can position you (or a suitable staff member) as a technical expert in your field.
For example, write an article explaining why the types of products or services that you provide are more important than ever to businesses in today’s difficult environment of pandemic-related changes. But be careful: Publications generally won’t accept content that comes off as free advertising. Write your article as objectively as possible with only subtle mentions of your company’s offerings.
There are other options, too. You could pen an opinion piece on how a legislative proposal is likely to affect your industry. Or you might write a tips-oriented article that lends itself to a publication or website looking for short, easy-to-read content. Insist on attribution for your company if the article is used, of course.
3. Do it yourself. A third approach is to create your own B2B media presence. For years, business owners have been urged to start their own blogs, send out their own tweets and, in general, create a social media identity that will make friends and win over customers.
This has largely become the way of the business world. In fact, there are so many social-media avenues you could travel down to get your message out, you may find the concept overwhelming. There’s also a high risk of burnout. Many people start blogs or open a social media account, post a few things and then disappear into the ether. This is not a good look for business owners trying to establish themselves as industry experts.
To be successful at blogging and social media marketing, set an editorial calendar and stick to it. Get your marketing department involved. Devise a strategy that will push out quality, consistent content regularly on the appropriate channels, whether authored by you or someone else at your company.
Not a replacement, but a booster
Using B2B media won’t completely replace the need for advertising or other marketing initiatives. However, it can boost your profile and credibility as a business owner and, thereby, create opportunities to increase sales and attract strong job candidates.
What’s more, the cost in dollars and cents is typically low — though you’ll need to set aside a certain amount of time in your schedule and you might have to expand the job duties of one or more employees. We can help you assess B2B media initiatives from a cost-benefit perspective.