How to Create a Winning Lead Generation Strategy for a B2B Retail Business
5 min to read
If you’re a wholesaler, or you have a retail company whose main sales channel is through third party retailers, then this article is for you. Creating a lead generation strategy for a B2B brand is a unique challenge and requires a different approach than a B2C strategy.
The question always is this: how do you develop a lead generation strategy that really works?
The answer is always this: there are dozens of channels for lead generation. Select the ones that work best for your brand and use them well.
Defining Your B2B Lead Generation Channels
The channels that continue to come to the top, both by marketers and researchers, are these four:
- Email marketing
- Search marketing
- Social marketing
- Content marketing
Note, these are the same channels used in B2C retail marketing. Let’s take a look at each one and the strategies that work.
1. Email Marketing
For years, some marketers have been predicting the death of email as a marketing tool. Consumers and business decision-makers do not like their inboxes stuffed with sales pitches, of course. And most people scan through their emails, trashing those that are of no interest or appear to be spammy.
But email has “hung on.” And one of the reasons for this is newer technology that allows companies to segment, personalize, and specifically target individuals and segments, even those that are not even leads yet. It’s called marketing automation, and it does work.
The other technology disruption that has impacted all forms of marketing, including email, has been data science. B2C retailers have been using it for a while now. Basically, it allows businesses to gather oceans of data from all over the web, churn that data for specific queries, and then conduct analyses on potential customers who can be targeted. This should be a part of any marketing strategy that you want to put into place to generate leads for retail ventures. You will discover who your potential customers are, what their purchasing behaviors have been, what their wants and needs are, etc. This data should drive the types of emails you craft, and, coupled with email automation, you are likely to generate far more leads.
A word about the crafting of those emails. Part of any email marketing strategy must include creative writing. When potential leads scan their emails, they scan those subject lines. If there is not an engaging and compelling subject line, that email will be trashed. If a part of your email marketing strategy does not include the use of highly creative writers, you will lose this game. Jim Coleman, a senior writer and content editor for GrabMyEssay and Best Essay Education, puts it this way: “We have a host of B2B clients who have great products and services to promote and sell. The problem is they are not creative writers, and their content marketing then suffers, including their email campaigns. They need to either employ or contract with creatives to get the job done well.”
2. Search Marketing
SEO is not something high on the list of most B2B marketers. It is typically a marketing strategy for B2C, while B2B marketing has traditionally focused on many other lead generation activities – trade shows, events, research on potential clients/customers, even cold calling/appointment setting and printed marketing materials. It has been assumed that potential leads do not conduct generic searches for the products or services they want.
SEO goals relate to getting on to that first page of results when someone conducts a generic search. And there is a lot of “science” behind how to do this. Google has a lot of “criteria” for how it ranks companies for inclusion in its searches, and there is definitely a learning curve for marketers who have not developed SEO strategies.
Ranking well on search engine results will bring in a lot of leads who will actually contact you, rather than you having to go out and search for them. Any strategy that is developed must include expertise on the latest search engine algorithms, and outside experts may be needed until internal marketers are able to assume the activities that relate to SEO optimization.
3. Social Marketing
B2B companies have traditionally not believed that social media is worth their time and effort. They have viewed it as a place for individuals to connect with one another and for B2C companies to spread their brands through a variety of channels and methods.
Over time, however, a large number of B2B companies have moved into social media, and it has proved to be a good strategy. For example, check out General Electric’s Facebook page. This is an opportunity to spread your brand name over a wide swath of targeted audiences, but, again, it is not for the faint of heart. Setting up accounts on the right social media channels to reach the right target audience involves lots of research, monitoring competitors, and developing a posting strategy that involves the right kind of content, a posting schedule that is consistent, and creating content that readers want to share with others.
Your social media marketing strategy should be two-fold – to address questions and issues your audience has and to drive potential customers to your website where you can engage them further and more deeply.
A social media strategy will involve selecting those few channels that will reach your target e and focus on them. Your posts must be engaging, exciting, and communicate the value that you bring to the table. Growing a following takes time, and you must commit to patience, even when you do not see results.
A “must” platform for B2B companies will be LinkedIn. But many marketers believe that setting up a profile and regularly posting is enough. It’s not. There are so many opportunities on LinkedIn to join industry-related groups, to write articles, to search and find solid leads. Again, a comprehensive strategy, posting schedule, and regular participation in groups discussions will spread your brand and result in networking that will result in hot leads.
4. Content Marketing
Content refers to any text or visuals, media, etc. you produce that promotes your brand and is intended to engage potential customers/clients. It is, therefore, anything on your website, your blog, your social media channels, and within marketing materials. The point of your content is to attract and engage potential customers, without making a hard sales pitch.
Your strategy here is to do the research and discover the wants and needs of your potential customers and address those, rather than simply trying to sell your product or service. What you are trying to do is this:
- Establish trust and a relationship with your audience
- Show your expertise in the business niche
Suppose you manufacture automobile parts. Your audience is parts wholesalers as well as retail outlets (e.g. Auto Zone) to whom you ultimately want to sell. Your industry niche is automobiles, obviously. And you have a huge realm of topic possibilities. What is going on in your industry? What recalls have occurred recently? How are new tariffs impacting your industry? When you provide value in your content, you will attract those you can then woo into your sales funnel.
Putting It All Together to Generate Leads
Of all the specific lead generation strategies, several of which are not addressed here, there is only one common denominator – no matter how much you strategize, you must be relentless about implementing those strategies. None of the above methods bring immediate results. You have to develop brand awareness and trust over time. But if you use a sound strategy, get the expert help you need, and stick to it, the results will show.
I believe it’s this: exceptional lead generation results come from a relentless willingness to experiment with different tactics, and to combine tactics across multiple channels.
Only by experimenting, can you truly know what does and doesn’t work, and when you know this, you can use your time and budget more effectively to generate higher returns on your investment, and better lead generation results overall.
Dorian Martin is a researcher and copywriter for WowGrade and Supreme Dissertations. His focus is on digital marketing. In addition to his work for these writing services, he also maintains a personal blog, NotBusinessAsUsual, which focuses on new digital trends in business marketing.