- Follow us on Twitter: Get every employee in your company to start using the tagline “Follow us on Twitter” or better yet incorporate the icon shown below as part of a mandatory company-wide outbound e-mail signature line.
The probability of success for any inbound marketing effort is directly proportional to the number of outsiders who follow your company, especially if they are people that interact with your company on a professional basis via e-mail. So more the merrier–more prospects, more pertinent ones, and more likely to seek out your company online more often as your follower network expands–and, at least a few of them will come to the table sooner.
- Tweet about the PR: Every time your company is ready to issue a press release–which in the SMB environment should be at least once a month or more, if events demand it–put out a tweet linking to the full PR on your company web site. This tweet should coincide with the PR going out on the wire and be re-tweeted at least 3 or 4 times over a 24-hr period following the PR.
An attractive message in the tweet will get some interested followers to click on the link to the actual PR and thus they will be kept informed about your company’s activities in a more timely fashion. Depending on the nature of the announcement, prospects are more likely to be spurred to follow-up action regarding their ongoing interest in your company’s product/service/solution.
- Blog or Bust: If your SMB does not maintain a corporate blog, stop reading this article and get started on it now! Web sites are typically viewed as the sales/marketing face of a company. Today’s social media savvy prospects are increasingly on the prowl to discover more about which company’s product/service/solution is best likely to fit their needs. Thus, company web sites are seen more as a broadcast information source whereas blogs are regarded more as an interactive and current information source.
Contemporary prospecting involves interacting with different types of functional content and at various levels by visiting company blogs for specific information from product, engineering, manufacturing, operations, customer service, and etc. departments. These prospects comment on blog posts, they query its authors, they seek pertinent information that will guide them towards making an informed decision – they are thus qualified prospects and need to be treated as such.
So it is critical for different functional authorities within the company to post relevant new articles on their corporate blog on average at least twice a week. Authors must choose to be notified via e-mail about reader comments and be prepared to respond in a timely fashion – because each thoughtful response contributes to the shortening of the B2B sales cycle.
- Content On-Demand: Relevant content presented in an ongoing and timely fashion can make the difference in a prospect’s decision-making process. A corporate blog is only the baseline for such an ongoing dialog with your company’s prospects. This baseline needs to be supplemented with downloadable whitepapers and live/on-demand webinars. This often becomes a departure point for marketing, when they capture more detailed prospect information prior to releasing a whitepaper to a prospect or registering a prospect for a webinar. Once this information has been captured and vetted, marketing can hand-off a well-qualified lead to sales.
- Web Conferencing: Have WebEx or video conference, will not travel. These mechanisms are becoming the preferred methods for conducting pre-sales qualification meetings with a prospect company. They save time and money and require less calendar coordination all around, especially when multi-location attendees are involved on both sides. They invariably contribute to a shortening of the B2B sales cycle.
- SEO is a Must:Even though company web sites are seen as a one-size-fits-all broadcast information source, B2B prospects usually begin by trolling the web for specific information using popular search engines. Also, B2B prospects, especially in complex, high-technology environments, are not particularly enamored by paid search results.
B2B prospects are still largely an organic search breed. Thus, it is imperative for your company to have search engine optimization (SEO) performed on its web site or preferably have it redesigned from scratch using SEO techniques. This means ensuring that your company’s search terms or keywords are very closely aligned with what prospects might be looking for. This selection can be fine-tuned by polling your existing customer base for feedback on what keywords they would use to research a product/service/solution that your company offers.
Nothing contributes to shortening a B2B sales cycle right at the starting gate for likely new prospects than an ongoing SEO process performed periodically on your company web site. The right keyword is invariably an invitation to visit and your company has to be prepared to serve the pertinent information to the prospect so that they will quickly come back for more.
- Automated Integrated Demand Generation Marketing: Finally, the marketing paradigm has changed since the advent of the new digital multiverse that now includes a Web 2.0 world with sophisticated search engines and rapidly expanding social media applications. To derive maximum benefit from this new paradigm, your company requires the use of an automated integrated demand generation marketing platform that will help it analyze, track, nurture and manage the comprehensive and cumulative digital footprints constantly being left behind by prospects that repeatedly visit your various digital properties. While the use of these automated platforms might seem expensive to SMBs, they not only help shorten the B2B sales cycle, but also provide a more accurate picture and a tighter control of what has indeed become a sharper, more integrated sales/marketing funnel.