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3 Ways to Build Great B2B Relationships
Having a great product or service is simply not enough to enjoy strong sales (especially online), which is why it is crucial to build strong relationships with other organizations.
But recognizing that your enterprise can succeed or fail depending on the quality and quantity of the business relationships around you is one thing - finding and nurturing those partnerships is another thing entirely.
This article highlights three techniques that have proven themselves to be invaluable when it comes to ensuring that your company is constantly growing a powerful network of allies.
1. Dedicated Outreach
When it comes to startups, I have stuck my foot into almost every hole imaginable and have learned lessons the hard way. In particular, one of the biggest mistakes I made (and one I think many companies make) is relying on passive marketing channels to grow the business.
By passive, I mean things like organic search traffic from Google and word-of-mouth. Both of these strategies are fantastic ways to grow a startup, but they tend to rely on a threshold amount of visibility and interest in the first place.
To hit that threshold, you have to work to grow reputation and authority, and the only way to do this is to get out there and start helping/working with/advising/chatting/socializing and generally being seen.
Social Marketing Quick Start
115,000+ businesses trust SocialPilot to manage social media, schedule posts, improve engagement & analyze results.
Use SocialPilot to help you understand the audience and create better engagement with them.
If you're looking to grow into the social media space then it's vital to have insights into how your engagements are performing, as well as planning and executing campaigns from start to finish.
Bite the bullet and pay for a good person (someone who is well-spoken, friendly, outgoing, intelligent, etc) to research and identify important potential partners, reach out, and build relationships - using the right marketing tools to be cost-effective and efficient.
Waiting for passive marketing strategies to work can take years and years, whereas being proactive and reaching out to people can have exciting results in a matter of days, weeks, and months.
2. Real Relationships
Any company that I am involved in ends up having to rewire the way they think about customer service and support - that goes for business customers too.
Social Quick Start
Use SocialPilot to manage social media, schedule social media posts, improve engagement & analyze results.
Whether you are blogging or selling, the traffic and customers driving your profits can be grown using one or more of the major social networks.
Save time and effort by managing all your social media profiles from one convenient location. Plenty of tools and support help you get the most from social.
Almost all of the time, a complaint that is dealt with efficiently and effectively ends up as a net, overall positive experience for everyone involved. Once someone's problem has been resolved, take a few minutes to thank them for their time and offer them a personal, direct line to more help if they should ever need it. Like this:
"Thanks Bill, glad we were able to help. Please feel free to get in touch with me directly if you ever need anything in future."
In doing so, you build a bridge to that client based on an experience that goes beyond the traditional client/service relationship. They feel that they have a special, personal relationship with your company and this makes it harder for them to consider switching to a competitor that doesn't share that connection.
3. Creative Partnerships
Are there companies out there that could make use of your products and services in such a way as to promote your company? Is there a way to collaborate on something for mutual benefit?
Research Quick Start
Research potential partners' websites to learn about their back-links and how they integrate into your market.
Analyze any website using SEMRush and learn how they can potentially help you.
Understand your niche to make better marketing decisions, capture higher page rankings in Google, make valuable new connections and boost your earnings quickly.
Don't waste time guessing what it takes to win valuable search keywords. Work out who is winning. Find out who links to them. Use that knowledge.
Try it out. Research a website right now.
You are able to use SEMRush for free by signing up. However, the free plan is limited to 10 requests per day - thereafter a paid plan is required.
For example, I was approached by a startup that needed sales data in order to set up a product comparison site that would allow shoppers to compare the direct sales performance of any two products one-on-one.
It's a great idea, right? If you are doing Xmas shopping and want to know which computer game is the right one to buy for your nephew, then being able to see which game is more popular based on their online sales volumes is pretty useful right?
It means you no longer have to rely on what the game developers say about their game... or what the critics (who are often paid for their opinions) say about the game. You can look directly at what the market says about it.
One of my startups provides accurate sales and price analytics for online products. I had the data they needed... but they couldn't afford it.
Potentially tens of thousands of new people could be exposed to my service by ensuring that wherever that data is used, there is attribution. And, what's more, I could negotiate for a cut in the revenue generated.
So, my company may not make much, if any, revenue out of the deal initially. But, it's free exposure. The equivalent amount of exposure from paid advertising might be very expensive.
Where are there gaps that your business can trade on for exposure and visibility? Finding the right one could mean real, sustained growth for almost negligible cost.
I am an ardent supporter of creating great quality content that ranks well in Google search for marketing purposes.
Recently, however, I have been forced to concede that organic traffic from Google is no longer reliable enough.
Since 2012 Google's search results have been in upheaval, and while the general thrust of the changes are to improve search results and cut out spam, there has been significant collateral damage along the way.
Starting an affiliate program to market your business online is a great way to get real growth - but it comes with dangers that you must manage pro-actively from the start.
By definition, affiliate marketing hands a degree of control over to the publishers who market on your behalf.
Because these publishers are incentivized with sales commissions, they may end up using advertising and promotional strategies that your own company might not be comfortable with.
Any company that outsources their customer service is being silly, and are inviting competitors to swoop in and pilfer their client base.
Customer service is one of the few real opportunities you have to forge a solid relationship with people. Why on earth would you want to hand it over to someone else (who hides you from the people that sustain your business)?
And while handling customer complaints and queries can seem like a chore, it can be converted into one of the most powerful marketing strategies available to you.
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If you're in the business of making and selling unique stuff then the marketing strategies you use should reflect the creativity of your products in order to reach out to the right people.
Fortunately the Internet is full of the "right people" just waiting to place an order. But your message has to find them in the right place in the right way.
That's why it pays to think creatively about marketing instead of following the pack and doing the same old "tried and tested" things.
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