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Making yourself and your B2B business the go-to experts

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Edinburgh Connections 17, February 2021

You wouldn’t be doing what you do if you weren’t an expert in your field but do your potential customers know this? How do you ensure that you or your business are the go-to expert with the credibility that inspires trust in your industry? I’ve put together a few ways to do this.

Blogs & Vlogs

Educational or informative blogs and vlogs (video blogs) are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge AND improve your SEO (search engine optimisation). Google doesn’t like websites that never change. Many B2B companies use a “News” section to ensure that their website isn’t static, but blogs are a better choice. You can make sure you write about things that are of use to potential customers, and blogs tend to get more likes and shares. It also helps you build credibility in a way news sections cannot.

When you start blogging and vlogging, it might not be obvious which subjects to cover. A good way to start is to use common questions that your customers ask. Reuse your other content subjects too – which of your social media posts have been most popular? Have you done any presentations that have gone down particularly well?

Don’t just write about your products and services; write useful advice about your area of expertise. For example, suppose you are in the business of manufacturing additives for the food and beverage industry. In that case, you might have knowledge that food scientists would be researching (e.g. the pros and cons of different types of emulsifiers). Or you may be an architect and know what housing developers need to research (e.g. different methods of construction and when you would choose timber frame over brick and block).

It will look better if you have 4-5 blogs ready to go up when your blog goes live, it is more engaging if you have more content. Don’t forget to date them correctly. If you leave the automatically published date as the date shown it will look like they were all written on the same date.

It is important once you start a blog that you keep it up to date. You’ve probably looked at a company’s blog that hasn’t posted since 2014 and wondered if they still exist. Create a content calendar (it can be as simple as a spreadsheet). If you have written it down, it is more likely to happen.

Speaking opportunities

Chances are there are conferences in your industry crying out for expert speakers. Find events based on your industry or area of knowledge. There is a pandemic going on as I write this, but conferences are still going on online. There will also be face to face events at some point (although I doubt the online events will stop – and that gives you a potentially global audience).

If you are just starting out as a speaker, start small and build up. You can attend networking groups where you do a 30-60 second pitch before presenting at these smaller events. If you feel you need a bit of help, you can join organisations such as Toast Masters or get some training from a public speaking trainer (I can thoroughly recommend Kyle Murtagh of Confidence by Design).

Once you have the practice and a speaker portfolio, you can start approaching the large conferences – answer the call to papers and keep in contact with organisers.

Trade shows (both on and offline versions) tend to have a conference and key-note speakers attached to the event. Exhibitors generally get first dibs on any speaker spots – make sure you take advantage!

As with blogs and vlogs, speaker spots are not about selling your products and services; they are about selling your expertise. If you go in with the hard sell or spend the first five minutes talking about your company’s stats you’re not likely to be invited back!

For more information about events, look out for my video interview with Ruby Sweeney of The Events Hub coming out in April.

Press

Get your press releases out there; you may even be able to re-purpose some of those blogs. In B2B, it will mostly be industry-specific magazines that publish these. Still, if you have something interesting to a broader audience, there is no harm in sending these out to the general press’s business section editors.

Beware of predatory publications though if a magazine will only publish an article if you (or worse demand that your suppliers) advertise the content is unlikely to be the best editorially speaking – just articles that have essentially been paid for meaning not many will read it or value it. (That doesn’t mean that you won’t get more value from your article if you also advertise – but that should be YOUR choice).

As well as sending out press releases, make friends with journalists and industry magazine editors, let them know that you are willing to talk to them and have the expert knowledge when they need it.

Testimonials and recommendations

Word of mouth is obviously incredibly powerful, but you can amplify this by getting testimonials and recommendations. Don’t just wait for customers to recommend you – ask them. If you have a satisfied customer, send them a link to your Google My Business page and ask for a LinkedIn recommendation.

Once you have three or four of these, add a testimonial section to your website – and keep it up to date with new testimonials as they come in.

Case studies

Case studies are one of the best performing types of content for B2B companies. This is for two reasons. You are building your credibility further by demonstrating what you have achieved for clients, and you are also telling something in story form. Humans engage better with information and retain it better if it is told in story form.

These are far more persuasive if the customer name is featured. However, it is not always easy to get permission (obviously if what you do is of a confidential nature you will have to anonymise these). You will get more luck if you write it in a way that shows your customer in a good light as well as highlighting the issues you have solved for them. For example, if your customer is a needed an engineering solution to reduce energy costs, also point out that the customer is now more environmentally friendly as a result.

Once you have drafted your case study, get the customer’s marketing department involved and obtain permission from them. Let them know you intend to use it to get good publicity for them as well as yourself. You are also more likely to get direct quotes from the customer if you do this.

Getting published

We don’t all have the time to write a book and get it published, but if you do this is an excellent way to build even more credibility. This is several levels beyond writing a 1,000-word blog every month. However, if you have already been doing that for some time, you may find you already have a chunk of the book’s content. This doesn’t mean you should simply copy and paste your blogs and call it a book – it needs to flow and make sense to a reader, guiding them through a journey you want to take them on in a way that helps them succeed in their business.

If you go down this route, not only could it be another income stream, it will build your credibility to a much higher level, it will help you get those speaker spots and interviews in the press, and ultimately bring in more customers.

If this is all too much – you can still publish useful smaller e-books or whitepapers that are useful for your customers. You can always monetise these too, but it is worth considering making these “gated content” hosted on your website, trading data rather than money with your customers. If you use these as part of your content strategy for your marketing automation, you can also use these as part of your lead nurturing plan.

Awards

Most industry bodies membership organisations and even industry publications host awards. These are usually simple to enter. They generally have a form that explains what they are looking for and any supporting evidence they need. You can also look at previous winners in the relevant categories and look at what the judges said to give you an idea about what you should focus on.

Even being nominated for these awards can help you build your credibility. Make sure you invite customers along to the award ceremony (whether that is on or offline) whether you think they will be able to come along or not.

Educate

With all of these, you must focus on educating, not the hard sell. Ultimately this will lead to more sales (especially over the longer-term), but that doesn’t mean that you should directly push your products and services.

Spread it far and wide:

Don’t just rely on potential customers stumbling across any of these:
•    Share each blog post on your social media.
•    Tell the world that you are speaking at an event.
•    Advertise the fact that you are featured in a magazine.
•    Publicise every testimonial or recommendation you get.
•    Feature your case studies on your website and your newsletters.
•    Plug your book every chance you get.
•    Get your award win all over social media, invoices, pop-up banners and on your business cards.

If you need any help with promoting your expertise through marketing, call me on 07791 521439 or email me at samantha@labrakita.co.uk

Check out Samantha’s Profile on our Member Directory.

Author: Samantha Tonge, Marketing Consultant, Labrakita Marketing