B2B Marketing is tough. If you’re a small business trying to grow in this competitive world you’ve probably found some serious setbacks to growth. So how do you get ahead of the curve and grow fast and sustainably? First, consider whether you recognise yourself here:
• You’re really good at what you do.
• You have good people skills.
• Businesses need your services (they may not even know that yet).
• You’re able to invest time in building your own network of customers.
• You don’t have tons of money to throw at advertising.
This is the step-by-step guide to growing a business from zero to full time wage in a few months. It’s a true story. It’s actually dozens of true stories.
Grow below the line to start!
Growth hacking for small B2B businesses is all about getting small, to get big!
It’s a case of taking a very small approach to a very big plan! Below the line advertising is quite literally reaching out to one potential customer at a time – getting all up in their business, so to speak. Social media has made below the line advertising not only simpler (and free) but it’s also birthed a whole new generation of marketing and advertising experts who have no marketing or advertising experience. Once you get a handle on it, the sky is your limit.
First, get your online act together
Facebook is the ideal social media platform for building networks. Twitter helps you get free PR and the others all have benefits too. But for building your growth hacking network, Facebook is your first stop.
Set up your Facebook page and link it to your small business website. Populate the page with interesting, relevant stuff – not pictures of funny cats. Your page, for now, will be a brochure about what you do. So make it interesting, on brand and instantly useful. The potential customer should find something relevant to their immediate needs within the first three posts.
Identify and connect with your ideal B2B customers
Now make a list of 50 or so potential customers and their Facebook pages. Don’t think Google or Coke; think your local dentist or curry shop or a successful online store. If you service a specific niche, seek out everyone in that niche and decide who can afford you. Really take the time to check out their pages and websites. Know their brands and what they need. Keep a list.
Now go to your page, click the little triangle in the top right corner and select “Use Facebook as Page”. Go to all your potential customer’s pages and “like them as your page”.
Once you have, return to your own page and click home. You now have a feed of all their content (well, Facebook decides how much of their content you’ll see). When you like and comment you do so as your brand name. You will need to log in at least once a day for the next few weeks and leave insightful (not salesy) comments on their status updates. Engage them in conversation but never try to sell. Sooner or later, they’ll start liking your page too.
Embrace your inner stalker
Yes, this is where it gets a little bit stalker-like. Once you find a few pages that are warming up to your advances, drop their websites into Whois.com and find out the page owner’s name. You can then visit their personal profiles. Most will allow you to view the groups of which they’re members. Avoid any that are called “Advertise your page” as these will all be spam groups. Look for authentic business groups that seem to have a lively following. Join them. Read their rules. Abide by their culture. Be nice. Be helpful. Never sell. Sooner or later someone will ask a question about your services, then it’s time to pounce.
Once you have one or two…that’s when the magic happens
Facebook for business is all about networking, which includes word of mouth recommendations – that spread like wildfire. Once you have one or two clients through a Facebook group, you’ll find that you will join your competitors in that group to become the “default” recommendation. Soon, when someone posts looking for your services, others will recommend you and the leads will start flowing in without any work from you.
Identify the groups and influencers that get you the most referrals
This will be pretty obvious; a few groups will start to stand out as being the “right fit” for you. Become more present in the groups, share insights and information that is relevant to the members. When they ask a question, Google it, and post useful responses. Identify the “leaders” in the group and start engaging more and more with them. Become highly valuable to the group members.
The ultimate growth hack – your own captive audience
Here, timing is everything. If you’ve established yourself as an expert, a valuable contact and someone that small business owners trust, it’s time to launch your own B2B marketing group. There are a few ways to do this but creating a “free event” on Facebook is the best way to quickly populate your group with qualified leads.
Let’s say you’ve started a bookkeeping business. You have been watching group discussions and have a good understanding of the challenges of small business owners. It seems they’re struggling to understand BAS lodgement. This is a great topic about which to do a Facebook seminar. You will need to offer great value, including step by step information on how to work out your GST totals and submit them followed by a Q&A session with you, the expert.
Why do it on Facebook? In addition to Google Hangouts there are plenty of good seminar hosting platforms around, but doing it on Facebook allows you to first direct all your potential leads into a group of your own. Advertising events on your Facebook wall also gets better than average reach, so it’s usually worth doing.
Once you have your fellow group mates, fans of your page and even a few you drag in through paid ads all settled into your group, you can do the free seminar. After that, offer ongoing support and networking opportunities to members. You now have a captive audience for your B2B marketing activities.
Sounds like a lot of work – is it worth it?
If you are a fan of social media, you won’t find it hard work. You’ll enjoy getting to know others in your industry, referral partners and potential clients on a whole new level. If you aren’t a big fan of social media, or you sell something targeting bigger businesses, it may not be worth your while. For smaller start-ups, you’ll find being a part of a community will sell your services far better than expensive ad campaigns.
Does this work? I could tell you of the researcher made redundant by the State Government who went from unemployment to full time wages in three months. Or of the copywriting firm that went from $0 turnover to $500,000 in two years, the graphic designers that went from $40 a logo to $2000 a logo in under a year – I think you get the idea.
These are all legitimate small businesses that started up with NO capital and have grown their business using this very strategy. Join the business groups and you’ll see they’re not alone!
Your B2B marketing strategy comes down to what you sell and who your customers are. This is just one way to hack growth using social media. We’d love to hear what worked for you. Tell us your secret to growth hacking for small business now.