HOW TO: Design BIG B2B Marketing Strategy with SMALL Budget
You can’t play with the “big boys.” They have too much money for marketing and, if your product or service competes with any of them, you are left picking up scraps that they have “thrown on the floor,” and competing with other small businesses in your niche for those scraps. Here is a given, so just accept it. You are not going to get an appointment by just calling and asking for one. Your job is to get attention and get your name “out there” in quirky and unconventional ways. Why? Because you will get leads and you will be remembered.
Before outlining these steps, one word of caution. You need to “know” your potential customers really well. While everyone enjoys a good laugh and an unusual greeting, you may need to tailor the specifics a bit, depending on the corporate “culture” of the customer you seek. But, basically your campaign will involve unconventional Guerrilla Marketing attempts to intercept and intrude upon your targets when they least expect it, without being offensive or insulting.
5 Steps to Your Big Marketing Strategy
1. Intercept Directly
There are gatherings of potential customers of yours all the time. They belong to networking organizations, to Chambers of Commerce, and they attend trade shows. When they physically park to go into these meetings, what does that parking space look like? You will need to go check it out. Where can you place strategic marketing pieces on their way in? Here are a few suggestions:
- If they part in a parking garage, you can place messaging on posts, on elevator doors. Don’t be scrimpy with these either – they need to see your message and your brand name repeated over and over again.
- If a trade show has participants from out of town, they will be staying in hotels. Walk the routes from hotels to the convention venue and find places to put your messaging – sides of buildings, fences, and so forth
Put some of your team in these garages or on these routes to perform some small skit or hold a few props with messages. Intercept the attendees and offer a free item – a logo-bearing pen, can coolers, stress balls, etc. If you do not have creative, talented team members to come up with a skit or a song, there are plenty of starving musicians who can write a parody of a familiar song geared toward your company and perform it along with your team members who can a t least carry a tune.
2. Get Leads in Fun Ways
Find ways to engage attendees at workshops and seminars. These are usually held in hotel meeting rooms. Obviously, if you haven’t paid your money you are not going to get inside. However, you can act as if you belong to the hotel staff, just walk in confidently and place yourself away from the registration table but in the line of traffic coming to it. Try one of these strategies:
Have a model in costume – something current and relevant – a minion costume, or, if you have any kind of a trademark figure, dressed as it. As attendees pass by, offer to take their photo with the model (maybe two models – cute gal for the men and a “stud” for the women) for free if they supply you with a business card, so that you can email it to them.
Hold an informal raffle: Intercept attendees as they arrive, and raffle off tickets to a concert or game – the raffle entry is a business card. Stay as unobtrusive as possible, so the venue sponsors do not call security. In some instances, this has been boldly achieved by simply walking up to the registration table and claiming to be a participant (give a company name) and setting a fish bowl right on the table with a sign advertising the raffle.
3. Surprise Your Targets
Suppose you have targeted 15 specific businesses that you want to “court” this month. How do you get an appointment? How about sending a gift that requires a response? Here is one very creative team did:
They sent a remote-controlled Hummer to the decision-maker as a surprise gift. In the box was some information about the company and a reference to the “reliability and sturdiness” of the company (ergo, the Hummer). The remote control, however, was not included. To get the remote, the recipient had to call and allow a sales rep to deliver it personally, along with a proposal/pitch. The rate of return was 11 out of the 15 – not bad for a $200.00 investment!
4. Web-Based Guerrilla Marketing
Whatever you do on the web has to go viral, if you intend to use social media. This is a bit trickier, because normal content marketing strategies that work for B2C companies are not as effective. But there are strategies that do not entail horrible cost.
- Make a video which then is posted on YouTube and all other social media venues. A word of caution here: if you decide to do this, it must be really entertaining and/or humorous. You may need to hire a professional to put together the script, song parodies, etc. and only use team members who are wannabe singers/actors and are good at it. Featuring actual team members if a good idea, though. Think in terms of the Southwest airline attendants videos you have seen.
- Host educational and self-development webinars and advertise them on LinkedIn and in online trade journals.
- Send out a monthly e-newsletter that is unlike any of your competition. Fill it with fun and humor, not product or service selling. Of course, you will want to include a few things about trends in the industry or welcome a new customer or team member, but, more than anything, you want potential customers/clients to look forward to your newsletters and to want to share them (put share buttons in prominent places!) And make sure you have the email addresses of the officers of any networking groups or trade associations – they may do a lot of sharing among their members. Get really creative with your email subject lines so you compel them to be read. You should spend as much time on subject lines/titles as you do writing the email itself.
- Use LinkedIn to publicize everything you are doing, and make sure that you are in all of the related groups. You can develop lots of networking there, especially if you are able to be witty and humorous, rather than just post the “stock and trade” serious posts, comments, and responses.
- Locate all online trade journals that relate to your niche. Write case studies and stories about your customers and how they benefitted from your products/services. Announce any partnership you form. Get creative about titles and wording for these articles, so that editors will like your style and be inclined to publish you.
5. Engaging Employees
None of these marketing strategies can be designed and implemented alone. Every member of the team must “own” these techniques and get their creative right-brains working. You have to promote creativity in the workplace so that people have fun and feel absolutely at-ease proposing any crazy idea at all. You do this in several ways:
- Play at work. Have unique awards days; take an afternoon off for relay races in the parking lot; have themed costume days. You need to create a company culture of humor, fun, and creativity.
- If you need team members who can really get their “mojo” on for some of your guerrilla marketing techniques, send them to workshops and enroll them in classes that can develop their talents – poetry, music, acting and creative writing. These are legitimate self-development activities!
- Have weekly brainstorming sessions. No idea is too ridiculous or crazy. Sometimes, the most ridiculous morph into really doable stuff, once they have been discussed and massaged.
- Build environment of trust and confidence inside the company. Simply supporting your employees in their education or studies and helping them to overcome fears keeping them from speaking up at work will increase creativity and evoke new ideas and smart business solutions.
When employees have fun at work, they are present, both physically and mentally, and that’s what you want.
For the small business owner, guerrilla marketing can reap huge benefits for a small amount of investment. The strategies will garner leads, name recognition, and a memorable impression on the recipients of the activities.
There are, however, some potential land mines as you engage in this approach to marketing. There is always the chance that you will offend or insult someone, and you must be careful that you do not go too far. There is also the chance that companies with whom you want to do business come to see you as not serious about your enterprise. Be certain that you balance the aggressive fun with the serious.
Guerrilla marketing has become a generally accepted practice in the corporate world today. In general, businesses that are targets of these strategies and techniques appreciate the creativity and the willingness of small companies to promote themselves in unique ways. It shows energy, enthusiasm, and a willingness to do what it takes – all valuable qualities!