Sales & Marketing Guide for Small Businesses

It’s no secret that sales and marketing can make or break your business, but as a small business you may not know which one you should focus on more or how to develop strategy, find leads, or empower a sales team. Truthfully, marketing and sales should work hand-in-hand, and you should focus on both from the very beginning. Your marketing should help establish your brand and positioning, and arm your sales team with the tools they need to close deals. Here are some things you should know about sales and marketing for a small business.Tweet This

Branding & Positioning

It’s critical to establish your brand and your positioning at the start of your business, before you start selling. Hiring a marketer can help you develop strategy and messaging for not only your products or services, but for your sales team as well. Without a cohesive message to give to sales, your reps may not accurately describe your products or be able to express why your solutions are different from the rest. Consider hiring a marketer early on to help you successfully distinguish your business and prep your sales team.

Useful Branding Articles:

Lead Generation

Without lead generation, your sales can definitely suffer. There are multiple ways to approach lead generation — from paid ads and gated content, to building and buying leads lists — and most companies employ more than one tactic to fuel sales. There are immeasurable dos and don’ts in lead generation, so you may want to make sure you have a marketer’s help here as well. If you decide to go it alone, there are tools that can help.

Useful Lead Generation Articles:

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Lead Quality & Data Cleansing

Once you’ve determined which lead capturing strategies work best for your business, you’ll need to assess the quality of your leads. Certain tactics will draw certain responses, meaning a lead from a contest might not be as high quality as a lead from an in-person event or gated content. A quality lead will have several distinguishing characteristics and will supply you with not only the kind of person you’re looking for, but all the information on them you could need. A lead that merely provides a name and an email address isn’t likely to be as valuable as a lead that contains detailed contact information, demographics, firmographics and other important data.

Even as a small business, you may find yourself dealing with thousands of leads or more, and it can become overwhelming. Your leads can also easily and quickly become outdated. Incomplete or inaccurate leads can clog up your CRM and won’t do your sales team any favors. You should regularly check and cleanse your data to identify low-quality leads. Dun & Bradstreet offers a free Data HealthScan to help you get started.

Useful Lead & Data Quality Articles:

Customer Retention

It’s typical for a new business to focus on new customer acquisition and not on customer retention, but as a small business, customer retention can be just as important. You may not have the marketing budget to constantly acquire new leads, but you can always focus your efforts on keeping the customers you have, satisfied. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to recommend your business to a friend, which can make finding new customers easier. You can also take advantage of unique up-sell opportunities with current customers, depending on your product, which can make your current customers even more valuable. Once you’ve built a customer base, don’t forget to focus on building relationships with those customers so they stay loyal to your business.

Useful Customer Retention Articles:

D&B Hoovers™ Can Help

D&B Hoovers is the sales and marketing tool every business can use for lead generation, data cleansing, acquiring new customers and more. Backed by the world’s largest commercial database, D&B Hoovers helps you target more effectively, have better, more informed conversations, and helps enhance your sales and marketing teams’ productivity. D&B Hoovers can help you stay competitive by:

  • Finding new prospects
  • Data Validation
  • Getting you better campaign results
  • Increasing your sales pipeline
  • Growing your business with account based marketing
  • Helping prepare your sales team for calls
  • Alerting you about top customers and prospects
  • Optimizing your online marketing

Learn more about D&B Hoovers.

3 Marketing Alternatives for Your B2B Business

Switching your traditional B2B marketing to more cutting-edge viral and social marketing can be tricky business. Your customers may want to know what’s up, your prospects may wonder about the new ‘brand’ on the block, and your own internal team may struggle with learning how to use digital and social tools. Make a misstep and your brand could be subjected to industry jeers. However, when done right, exploring non-traditional marketing methods including digital marketing, social media, live video and guerilla marketing can pay off for the B2B marketer who has correctly researched his or her target customer audience.

Let’s look at some of the differences between traditional and non-traditional marketing, and explore some ideas on using each to achieve your B2B marketing goals.

Traditional B2B Marketing

For years, B2B marketers have used printed marketing collateral, like product brochures, product catalogs, data sheets and schematics to market their goods to prospects. These traditional methods still have purpose and generate revenue for many B2B marketers, but it’s become increasingly more practical and efficient to also digitize printed collateral and share them online with target customers.

Being able to print product PDFs and other marketing materials on-demand at trade shows for prospects sure beats pre-printing reams of brochures or one-sheets to ship to the event venue.

Digital B2B Marketing

Digital marketing can increase a brand’s viability, reputation and credibility. With online advertising, email marketing, content marketing, and social media aimed at the right audience targets, a B2B company can boost its brand, increase its reach, and grow revenues.

B2B digital marketing has also grown to become more personalized in recent years. Using marketing automation tools mixed with a strong customer and prospect database can help pinpoint buyers at companies in ways that were unreachable a few years ago.

Adobe Systems is a good example. A few years ago, the desktop publishing products company bought the data firm Omniture, and needed to find new ways to promote Omniture’s marketing analytics products. Adobe repositioned its brand on the Omniture site and in doing so, created a compelling content-driven website focused on relevant marketing topics for an audience of marketing data buyers.

Social and Video B2B Marketing

To reach more web-savvy customers, B2B marketers should look to use social media and online video tools like Periscope, Facebook and Instagram. Imagine your product team doing one of the following in the next quarter:

  • Broadcast a product demo session on Periscope
  • Write, design and distribute via social media a free white paper or downloadable ebook that explains a common challenge in your business.
  • Start to host a “What’s Up in (your industry)” weekly or bi-weekly chat on Twitter with it’s own unique hashtag to share B2B insights.

Using video to tell the story can reap dividends for B2B marketers, as well. GE tells its viewers on its YouTube channel that it’s trying to become a digital company inside an industrial company. Nearly 100,000 subscribers watching its videos is one of the company’s rewards for breaking the B2B mold.

Guerilla Marketing

Other B2B marketers are looking at ‘guerrilla marketing’ to bring brand awareness to their products and services and when executed properly, your guerrilla marketing campaign can become the next big thing your industry is talking about.

Various guerrilla marketing efforts could include:

Some of the pros of guerilla marketing include:

Factors to Consider

To best determine if your company is suited to do either traditional or non-traditional marketing or both, look at your industry and your position in it. Is your company a leader in your industry? Based on your position, you might be expected to be the leader from a marketing innovation perspective as well, or as an underdog, you might find that an upstart marketing campaign is just what your brand needs to get noticed and make waves. Does it have few competitors or are you in a very competitive industry? A competitive industry might indicate that customer choices are more price dependent than brand dependent.

Other considerations include:

  • Brand characteristics – What differentiates your business from your competitors?
  • Brand essence – What qualities define your company’s image in the minds of your customers? Is your brand strong and proud? Or is it sensitive and caring? Know how your customers view your company.
  • Desired actions – What action do you want your customers to take? Do you want subscriber signups? Or more seasonal orders? Knowing your end goal can help you target your campaign in advance.