B2B Marketing for Small Business Saturday

There’s Black Friday for in-store consumers, Cyber Monday for those who like to shop online, and in 2010, American Express started Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is the day to celebrate the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the United States. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 24th. If there are small businesses in your community that you would like to celebrate, consider shopping there on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. B2B businesses can embrace this holiday and use it to market their companies to customers while boosting end of year sales. Here are 3 steps you can take to make the most of Small Business Saturday.

Get Local

Reach out to businesses and customers in your area to let them know what your business is doing for this Saturday. Small businesses are sometimes dependent on local customers to stay afloat. Make sure you’re marketing to those in your area.

  • Send out emails with a Small Business Saturday focus. Because many small businesses are local customer driven, make sure you reach out to those in your area.
  • Online and print classifieds are an excellent place to spread the word about local promotions and special offers. Classified ads are perfect for listing everything and anything – and they’re easy for other to sort through.
  • Find a cause to contribute to. Getting involved with the community by donating a portion of the day’s sales is another great way to promote your business as a place to shop on the 24th for those in the area.

Show Off Your Store

Whether you’re online, site-based or a mix of the two, show off your store. You know what your business’s best assets are, from community involvement to eco-friendly products, and Small Business Saturday is a great time to display the reasons why people need to shop at your store.

  • Search for the latest trends in storefront decorations or web design. Changing up the display of your store or website and landing pages to match current holiday trends could bring in a slew of new customers.
  • Use what you have in a new way. If you have a TV or tablet, create a photo-driven slideshow of products, your sales, and hint at reasons why people should shop your store for Small Business Saturday. Light up your storefront with the right technology.
  • Create a landing page for your website that is Small Business Saturday specific. You can feature deals, product information, and additional details about why customers and businesses should participate.

Market Online

In order to make the most of Small Business Saturday, think long-term and how you can connect with new customers while engaging with current ones. For both those in the B2B and B2C worlds, this means marketing effectively.  Use your online marketing channels to promote Small Business Saturday and how your business is participating.

  • Post coupons on your blog or website, advertising Small Business Saturday specials for only those who follow you online or visit your site.
  • You can capitalize on Small Business Saturday traffic by encouraging visitors to sign up for text alerts, emails or coupons in the future.
  • Promote your business and its participation in Small Business Saturday on NFIB, social media networks, and other platforms where you share content.

According to an Echo Research survey, Small Business Saturday was celebrated by one hundred million people in 2011 and that number looks like it is on the rise for 2012. Make sure your B2B business gets involved, markets its participation, and optimizes traffic generated for future outreach. With eye-catching displays, design and promotion, you can create new customers and retain current ones. Shop small; shop local.

Is your business participating in Small Business Saturday? What methods are you using for marketing?

Gearing Up for Content Marketing in 2013

As the holidays and the end of 2012 approach, gearing up your marketing strategies for 2013 is important. Coming up with a 2103 marketing strategy is something many B2B businesses are focusing on in order to make next year better than this one. Content marketing is a strategy your B2B business is probably using, but are you on the right track as the year comes to a close? New studies indicate B2B businesses are focusing more on content marketing. In this second post in our two-part series on content marketing, we share are a few things to keep in mind as you rev up your marketing engine for the New Year.

Budgeting Resources

In the study “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” conducted by Marketing Profs and CMI (Content Marketing Institute), 54% of the B2B marketers polled plan to increase their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months. However, financial spending isn’t the only type of budgeting that needs to be considered as you get ready for 2013.

  • Time: Using all the different channels to distribute content, such as a social media and trade shows  content marketing requires an investment in time. B2B businesses will have to budget their time for content marketing development and distribution.
  • Money: The average amount of marketing budget spent on B2B content marketing is 33%, up from 26% in 2011. This indicates more budget will be allocated towards content marketing in 2013 as well.

As a tip, make sure your business is well-staffed and has the capital to support your content marketing strategy. While producing enough content may be a challenge, with the right content marketing team, you can make your goals. Keep in mind the production isn’t the only aspect of content marketing that you need to budget for; successful distribution across multiple platforms is key to an effective content marketing strategy.

Keeping Content Fresh

As mentioned in our first blog post about B2B content marketers, producing fresh content on a consistent basis is a challenge. The three biggest challenges B2B content marketers reported in the MarketingProfs and CMI study were producing enough content, producing engaging content and producing a variety of content. 64% of B2B content marketers say they are challenged with producing enough content and only 36% believe they are effective at content marketing. Here are a few tips on choosing and changing up your topics.

  • Provide your take on a trend. There is always something new on social media and popular blogs, from TV news shows to celeb meltdowns. Tie the trending topic to your business, clients or industry.
  • Rework old content. Take an old blog post and turn it into a video; or, provide a new take on older, popular-at-the-time topic to create an innovative article or podcast. You’ll be able to extend the shelf-life of what’s already produced.
  • Combine content. Take what you have to write about and combine it with what you want to write about. Taking something you are particularly passionate about and relating it to your business or blog makes things much more innovative.
  • Company content. Whether it is an expert advice article or a company update column, tap into your company’s staff and business updates as inspiration. Don’t give away all your strategies, but use what you know to solve problems readers may have that relate to your business.

Distributing Content

In order to ensure you’re distributing the right content on the right platforms, pay attention to where your audience is and the benefits your business can gain from sharing content on each of the various social networks. While SlideShare and Pinterest are some of the more popular up-and-coming social sites used in distribution, we’ll tap into the benefits of the top 5 social channels used by B2B marketers.

  • LinkedIn: Like a business directory, LinkedIn offers a large B2B audience and positions your company as a credible source while expanding business contacts. You can share articles, photos/graphics, audio recordings and presentations to reach a wide range of people directly.
  • Twitter: You can promote your content with links while expanding your customer reach. Twitter can also be used as a network for sharing answers to common customer service questions.
  • Facebook: Share photos/graphics, video, text and links to reach a large, global user base. You can even promote your content to target audiences.
  • YouTube: Upload videos that feature support, expert advice, etc. to entertain and teach your customers. YouTube helps your business engage with users, extend the shelf-life of events and places your brand and business in the spotlight.
  • Google+: With Google placing more emphasis on authorship for SEO, Google+ is an important network. You can engage with prospects while sharing text, photos/graphics, video and audio, and PDF presentations.

For B2B businesses, content marketing is a great way to earn leads. With compelling content, strategic distribution of the right content on the right platforms, and budgeting broken down to meet your marketing team’s needs, businesses can be more successful in content marketing for 2013 than they were in 2012.

How is your business prepping for content marketing in 2013?

The Anatomy of Successful B2B Content Marketers

Content marketing is the talk of the town and it’s a slim chance your B2B marketing team hasn’t heard about how “Content is King.” Content marketing is the technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience. Of course, the objective is driving profitable customer action. But, there is a good chance many of them haven’t heard just what it is that makes a content marketer successful.

In a recent study of B2B marketers by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Marketing Profs, they found there are the 5 common traits of successful B2B content marketers. Each of these characteristics is necessary for a content marketing team to successful.

  • Committed. In order for a B2B marketer to be successful, they need to commit resources, including time and finances, to their content marketing efforts.
  • Creative. Successful content marketers cross-promote across social media channels using a wide variety of tactics.
  • Personal. Content marketing is successful when it is geared toward specific people and personas. Profitable marketers must be able to personalize their content, on both the business and consumer end.
  • Talented. Creating engaging, compelling content isn’t always easy. Successful content marketers must be talented and able to come up with great, unique content on a regular basis.
  • Supported. Content marketers are not often at the top of a business’s marketing food chain. In order to have success, content marketers need the support of the higher ups.

Content Marketing Success

Finding success in content marketing will depend on what your business defines as success for each channel you are using. While it may be safe to assume that an increase in traffic and sales are at the forefront when it comes to measuring content marketing success, B2B marketers will define success and failure differently depending on their business and industry. Some key takeaways from the CMI and Marketing Profs study are:

  • B2B marketers define content marketing success as increases in web traffic, sales lead quality and social media sharing, in that order. With regard to organizational goals for content marketing, the top five (in order) are brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, customer retention/loyalty, and thought leadership.
  • The three biggest challenges B2B content marketers reported were producing enough content, producing engaging content and producing a variety of content.
  • The content marketing tactics that have had the biggest gains over last year are videos (70%), research reports (44%), mobile content (33%), and virtual conferences (28%).

Developing a Content Marketing Strategy

When developing or looking to improve a content marketing strategy, there a few different things you’ll want to focus on. Remember, content marketing is about stepping back from advertisements and moving forward with providing customers and business decision makers with valuable information. Spend time thinking about the following as you develop a marketing strategy that is content-driven.

  • Who – Who is your target audience? Your content needs to be specific towards the people you are trying to reach. Define your target audience before moving forward to “what.”
  • What – Once you know your audience, determine what kind of content they will be most interested in and most likely to share. What kind of content, visual or written, will your target customer prefer?
  • Where – Where is your target audience consuming content? Consider mobile devices, tablets, PCs, blogs, social media, etc. and the best content you can produce for each.
  • How – How will your content be found and shared? Understanding how your potential customer will search and/or share your content can influence what it is your marketing team produces.
  • When – When is a customer going to look for your content or find it valuable? Are they looking for entertainment, information or something else? Take into account when your target audience will interact with your business when producing content.

If you’re still on the fence about content marketing, consider the study by Roper Public Affairs, which found 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. 70% of the respondents said content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60% say that a company’s content helps them make better product decisions. Successful content marketing takes place when a content marketing team is able to create unique and personalized content that speaks to each segment of the brand’s target audience and can use relevant social media channels to promote the existing content and create new, social-based content.