So your startup has its business plan in place, your staff is firing on all cylinders, and your product is ready to revolutionize the market. Pop quiz. How many other businesses did you interact with before your product was ready for the consumer?
Overall, the volume of business to business transactions is higher than business to consumer transactions, yet many startups are so consumer focused that they fail to take into account how much business to business marketing can affect their long-term success. While business to consumer marketing shares some common best practices with business to business marketing, it’s the differences that can make or break a new startup. Securing B2B contracts can be a steady income source that resists the shifts of the consumer market.
If you want an illustration of the impact B2B contracts can have, just look at Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushiki Gaisha (YKK). You may not be familiar with the name, but if you own anything with a zipper, chances are YKK made that zipper. That’s because YKK makes 90% of all zippers. Just imagine if YKK had neglected B2B marketing.
So how do you effectively market yourself and your product to other businesses?
Tim Conley has made a career out of helping businesses do just that. Conley, a 13-year marketing veteran and host of the popular Foolish Adventure podcast excels at helping businesses market themselves in the digital age.
The internet has radically altered how businesses market themselves to consumers and other businesses. Many established businesses are learning the hard way that if you want to succeed today, you cannot ignore the impact of the internet and social media. At that same time, the internet is not a magic money box.
As Conley says, “there isn’t any easy button, magic systems or secrets that will allow you to withdraw money from the Internet as if it were an ATM. To make your dreams come true you must work. And you must provide real value to world.”
You must work, and you must provide real value. Those seem like basic ideas, but it’s startling how easy it is to lose that focus. It’s seductive to buy into the idea that the internet can somehow magically bring business success. Certainly it’s an idea that many fly-by-night consultants are trying to sell. However, “an Internet business is still a business that requires…dare I say it, “WORK!”” says Conley.
Conley believes that while businesses cannot ignore the internet, successful marketing isn’t built on “internet marketing” or “traditional marketing,” but simply on marketing. Says Conley, “Sometimes that means doing a direct mail campaign. Sometimes it means driving magazine readers to a website.”
What the internet can provide is a platform that allows new businesses to achieve a level of growth and reach that far outpaces a traditional brick-and-mortar approach; however, Conley’s approach distinguishes itself through its holistic focus on growth and marketing using all available tools.
If you neglect the internet or marketing to other businesses, you are leaving two of the most potent “tools” for success in the toolbox. Figuring out how to effectively utilize all the tools available to businesses today might seem daunting, but resources like Conley’s Foolish Adventure University can help businesses learn the skills and mindset needed for online success. As Conley says, “The act of making your dreams come true — no matter what they are — is an amazing adventure.”