SCORE

If you own a B-2-B business, you know that finding good leads is a never-ending challenge. Fortunately, three types of marketing—trade shows, referrals and in-house email marketing—are most likely to produce not only lots of leads, but lots good leads, according to the annual B2B Demand Generation Benchmark report from SoftwareAdvice.

The good news for small business owners, who are usually limited in budget and always limited in time, is that focusing on these three types of marketing can be all you need to get good leads pouring in. Here are some tips:

  • Trade Shows

Trade shows have long been one of the most effective marketing tactics for B-2-B companies—it seems there’s still no substitute for meeting potential customers live and in person. However, respondents in the report noted that trade shows are also very costly.

To make sure a trade show is worth your while, do your homework. Ask other business owners in your networks whether they’ve attended and what they thought of the event. But don’t rely on past years’ experiences: Contact the event promoter and see if you can get specifics about the number and types of attendees expected, as well as who the other exhibitors will be. You don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of flying to a trade show only to get there and find out your target market makes up only a small percentage of attendees.

  • Referrals

Not only are referrals highly effective, they’re essentially free. But to make them work, you need to set up a system for asking for referrals on a regular basis—not haphazardly. If you use a CRM system, try building triggers into the process so you get reminded to ask for referrals at a certain point after the sale. Work with your sales team to figure out an effective strategy for wording referral requests and whether you need to offer some type of incentive, such as a percentage off the next sale if the referral becomes a customer, to sweeten the pot in exchange for the referral.

  • In-House Email Marketing

Today’s email marketing tools are simple to use. They offer design templates that take lots of the work off your hands, and ensure you’re sending marketing emails that comply with anti-SPAM regulations. It’s also easier than ever to gather customer emails and create your own in-house list, which is always more effective than renting a list from somewhere else.

To build a good list, ask customers for their emails at every possible point. Put an email signup box at the top of your home page; include it in the online checkout process when customers input their emails; have a sign-up sheet at the point-of-sale in your retail store or have clerks ask for email addresses when they ring up customers. Entice signups by telling customers they’ll get special offers and discounts via email, and you’re more likely to get their info.\

Are you already using all three of these tactics? Good for you. Using one or two? Great; now implement the other—and watch your sales grow. Need help figuring out how to plan for a trade show, develop a referral program or handle your email? Your SCORE mentor is there to advise. Visit www.score.org to get matched with one today.