Being an entrepreneur can be equally rewarding and frustrating. Owning your own business, no matter how small, can provide a giant measure of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. I can personally attest to that.
There is much that can be frustrating, though. One is the simple fact you can't do everything you want to do.
Take marketing, for example. Marketing is one of the two basic functions of business–innovation being the other. I didn't say that. Peter Drucker did.
For small business the conundrum is which marketing tools should you use? We simply don't have time to utilize very many, and with hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of marketing tools available, how do you determine which ones are best for you? Email is the overused default tool of choice right now, which makes no sense. Social media–with the exception of YouTube and maybe LinkedIn–has yet to prove ROI for most B2B marketers. And our quiver oveflows with the myriad of other tools available.
So the questions begs itself, what should a small B2B do? how do you figure out which tools to use?
In both my own experience as well as working with dozens of small businesses, I've come to the conclusion there are six marketing tools that pretty much every B2B business should use and use well. This doesn't mean you can't embrace any other tools, but IMNSHO, you're making a big mistake not aggressively incorporating these in your marketing strategy.
1. Direct mail
You can be more creative with direct mail. You can be more personal. It's easier to stand out from the crowd since so many "smart" companies have abandoned mail to go 100% online. You can easily measure results with direct mail. You can send personal letters, postcards (of all sizes), greeting cards, different shapes and sizes. Direct mail may be more expensive than clicking a button, but when used effectively it's potential return is much higher.
Like direct mail, the power of video cannot be underestimated. It communicates your message far better than print or audio. You can use video for new product demos, sales messages, interviews, testimonials, personal messages, etc.
Video doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Today's smartphones are more than capable of producing high enough quality visuals. (It's always a good idea to use an external microphone, though.)
YouTube is, obviously, the best place to upload and store videos. Videos can be easily tagged for searches. You can set each video to be available to the public, unlisted, or password protected. And now YouTube allows you to embed an annotation right in a video that when clicked takes the viewer to an outside webpage. An example of a great business video is Wasp Asset Tracking.
These are an awesome way to stay connected to your prospects and customers. Regularly scheduled live webinars or webcasts (they're basically the same thing) can provide timely information, engage your audience, and create a personal bond with the market.
4. Landing/squeeze pages
Right now many of you are thinking, "Say what?" What's a landing page?
Everybody has a website, right? And most companies put this regular corporate URL on all their marketing materials. But this is actually a mistake. You should set up a unique landing page for every different marketing message. For example, Royal Master Grinders wanted to showcase what they were exhibiting at IMTS 2012. They bought the domain www.Booth6646.com and designed a site and landing page specifically for that.
You might be a great marketer and communicate like crazy with your marketplace, but you can't just be better than the competition. You have to be seen as DIFFERENT. What promise can you make to people that clearly and definitively shows you are UNCOPYABLY SUPERIOR to the competition?
Branding is far more than a logo. It's what embeds your name in the minds of your prospects and customers. It's what makes them remember you and think about you when the need arises. It's also what makes them talk about you, which leads me to…
Let's admit it. We wish ALL our prospects came to us as referrals, right? A referral is practically pre-sold for us and most of the time the sales cycle is far shorter.
But despite how we love referrals, most of us do a crappy job of helping our customers refer us. Most companies don't have a formalized referral marketing strategy in place. How much sense does this make? And those who follow many "gurus" advice may actually be hurting potential referrals. I wrote about this my last blog post.
7. Memorable business cards
I'm sure this is also raising a few eyebrows. Business cards? Why is this on the list?
Pretty simple. 99% of all business cards look alike. We hand someone our card…they give it a cursory glance…and shove it in their pocket without a second thought.
A great business card can truly separate you from the crowd. Your card can and should be indisputedly representative of you and your brand. People should look at your card and say something like, "This is cool!" They should talk about it with their peers. A great business card makes you memorable and unique. That's exactly what you want.
I spent a lot of time figuring out what my own card should look like. I apologize for sounding egotistical, but I'm pretty proud of my card. When someone asks for my card I hand it to them with the back facing them first. After reading that, they then turn it over. I ALWAYS get a reaction (most of time laughter):
As I said, these 7 tools should be the basic minimum tools you use to market your business. By themselves, these may be all your ever really need. Of course, if you have the time to master each of these and feel the ned to do more, by all means do so. But these 7 are killer tools. You may not agree with me and I invite your comments below. Tell me what you think about my list and feel free to share other tools you are currently using.