Finding the right activities for B2B marketing spending can sometimes be tricky, especially for small businesses. The last thing you want to do is spend money on marketing that is not going to give you a positive return or generate more profit then its cost. Is there something you can learn by looking at what the majority of businesses are doing? By looking at what other business are doing can you determine what marketing activities would almost guarantee you a positive return on investment, if you increased your spending on them.......
Below is an indication of how the B2B marketing mix is changing for B2B companies. This list shows the % of B2B businesses that plan to increase their budget for the following marketing vehicles.
Top Marketing Tactics Businesses Project To Increase Spending Behind In 2011
Website = 64%
Search SEO (Combined with PPC advertising) = 62%
Social Media = 53%
Email = 42%
Online Display Ads = 41%
Telemarketing = 30%
Public Relations = 30%
Direct Mail = 22%
Broadcast Ads = 15%
Print Ads = 11%
Source: Marketing Sherpa Survey
If you assume businesses as a whole group invest behind the marketing programs that are generating a positive return on investment for their business and that marketing tactics that usually work for other businesses can work for yours, then this list can be very helpful. If this assumption is correct then this list can tell you what marketing methods should have the highest probability to generate a positive return on your investment for your business. In other words you can use this list to change the marketing mix for your business (what you will spend your marketing dollars on) to see an increase in additional sales and profits.
I think this is a fairly safe assumption. If the majority of businesses were incorrect in allocating investments to the right activities, then the majority of business would be going bankrupt every year. In reality though we know only a small portion of businesses go bankrupt ever year.
Therefore I would propose that probably any of the marketing methods that over 50% of businesses are looking to increase spending on are almost guaranteed to create positive returns for your business. I would also say that tactics where 40% or more of businesses are looking to increase spending have a very high chance of creating a positive return for your business.
Therefore I would suggest that B2B small business owners should be looking to spend more on their website, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC Advertising, Social Media, Email and Display Ads if this was not already part of your plan for 2011. I do recommend that you increase spending on all these tactics and not just one or two. I am a firm believer that using a wide range of marketing methods produces better results then only executing one or two activities (assuming equal total marketing spend in both scenarios). I believe that by having an integrated plan with a multitude of marketing methods synergies will be created and the returns will be higher. I was really disappointed I could not find a study showing the correlation between the number of marketing activities and return on investment. I guess the internet does not have everything yet......I will maybe have to create my own study sometime and post it on this blog.
If you have not even started using some of these methods yet that is okay. It is better to start now then not do them at all and lose out on sales and profits. Most of them can be done very easily. For a website you can either have someone create one for you inexpensively online by someone like 99Designs. They are relatively inexpensive and make great looking sites. If you want something more customized, professional or more complex you could also outsource it on a website like Elance. On Elance there are many very talented web designers that are willing to create websites at a steal of a price. For SEO just look up SEO in google and see what local firms provide this service. Just check the traffic of the firms website. This will tell you which firms are actually good at SEO and which arn't. To look up a websites traffic just go to www.alexa.com and type in the URL of the firm's website. For PPC advertising you can get started very easily by signing up for googe adwords. Read the help forum and you will be up and running in no time. For Social Media set up an account on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter as a minimum and start testing things. For email I would recommend using either Constant Contact or Aweber. There are many online services that you can use for doing your email campaigns but personally I recommend either of these two as they are both good value, have good customer support and excellent product features. If you prepay, Constant Contact can be the lower priced option but I find Aweber has slightly better features and user interface. Both are great though so pick which ever one works for you. And finally for display ads.......I would suggest Trafficvance or using the display ad option within googe adwords.
The other marketing methods (telephone marketing, public relations, direct mail, broadcast ads and print ads) can be successful for all B2B small businesses. This is easier for some marketing mediums then others but all can be effective for all businesses. It all comes down to having the right supplier, the right price, a great strategy and great creative. To get great strategy and creative, as always, you will need to test, track, learn, improve and repeat...test track, learn, improve and repeat. But unless you have some reason to believe they will be super successful why spend time working on the hard wins instead of the easy wins?
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