Knowledge is power. Knowledge will help you achieve the biggest gains for your business. If you’re a B2B small business owner, checking out the latest B2B business books could be the very best thing you do for your business. But here at Funding Gates, we totally understand that most of you are so busy, reading a whole book is a Herculean task. As a B2B ourselves, we’re staying up to date on the latest and greatest books and are happy to share our findings with you! Jump right in to implementation with our five favorite takeaways from the best B2B business books of today.
1) Understand Your Clients’ Needs—and Prove You Can Meet Them
It’s a basic tenet of sales, but it’s worth repeating. Bill Blaney reaffirms in B2B A To Z that, first and foremost, customers want to know how your product or service will meet their needs.
Consumer sales may be driven by emotional considerations (i.e., wants) as much as actual needs, but typically a business client’s needs boil down to two things: increasing profit or increasing efficiency. Show your clients that you can bring in money or streamline workflow, and be able to back up your claim with testimonials, case studies, or stats. A flashy presentation or clever marketing campaign can’t take the place of this most important client connection.
2) Know Thyself
Be self-aware. It’s important to be realistic about your company’s strengths and weaknesses, author Christopher Ryan writes in Winning B2B Marketing. Where does your company shine? Where do your competitors do better? Often our strengths and weaknesses can be opposite sides of the same coin, and the same is true of businesses.
It’s also quite helpful to understand your brand’s identity and perception to power your marketing efforts. Should your company take a humorous voice on social media? Is your company used primarily by hipsters or moms? It’s important to tailor your messaging and to take advantage of content opportunities that would deeply connect with your audience and brand.
Outside of reading this book, you can also explore what people think of your brand by searching for mentions of your company or products to see what your customers are saying, or how they’re interacting with your brand.
3) Help Your Customers Find You
In Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah stress the importance of making it easy for new customers to find you, rather than the other way around. The old outbound marketing methods of aggressively pushing your product or service are a turn-off. In inbound marketing, you pull customers in “by sharing relevant information, creating useful content, and generally being helpful,” not pushy.
4) Run Your Marketing Team like a Start-Up
“Start-ups are passionate, are nimble, and get things done. They are used to operating on tight budgets, but they know when it’s time to ask for funding. Start-ups operate on shorter goal cycles and have flat organizational charts to make it easier for collaboration,” Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen write in The B2B Social Media Book.
Rethink your marketing team with these start-up principles, and catch some of that start-up spark. Bodnar and Cohen say your team will soon “approach the world as a cohesive unit.” They’ll have a sincere passion for your product, generate ideas more quickly, and show increased agility and originality.
You’ll gain a better understanding into how social media can work for your brand if you set smaller, short-term goals with clear end-dates. You’ll be able to see how much traffic a tactic brought to your site, and how many of those new leads became customers. It may be a small sample, but you’ll get a general sense for how well a tactic, like a Facebook coupon, could work when you scale it (put more time, energy, and money into the idea).
5) Listen Closely
Paul Gillen and Eric Schwartzman, authors of Social Marketing to the Business Customer, suggest you “learn by listening” to maximize your social media efforts.
Use Google alerts and analytics, a social media dashboard such as HootSuite or TweetDeck, and/or metrics about your top content and referring sites to listen to what your clients and others in your industry are saying, and—most importantly—to respond accordingly. What’s trending in your field, and how can a trend help your content get seen? What concerns do customers have about your product or service?
Social listening is low-effort, low-risk, and offers immediate results. What’s not to like about this approach?
We also love Everyone’s a Critic by Bill Tancer. It dives into how important review sites are to small businesses now-a-days, and how to have your business benefit from this.
The next time you’re sinking into your couch for the afternoon with a cup of tea, all of these books are worth a read. In the meantime, we hope this cheat sheet of takeaways offers you unique insights to implement for your B2B business right away.