Toolbox

Fifteen years ago, business-to-business companies could reach their target audience simply by using brochures and trade shows. But these days, they have dozens of marketing tools to choose from. Which ones will work best for the people your firm wants to reach?

There's no standard formula for effective B2B marketing. Different tools work for different products, services and audiences. Still, there are a number of basic tools that vast numbers of B2B companies aren't using, but should.

Some of the B2B marketing tools I'm recommending aren't used extensively because they're relatively new, such as search engine optimization and lead nurturing. And for the other tools, most B2B companies didn't make marketing a high priority in the past, so they stuck with very basic tools such as brochures and trade shows. The great thing about the five tools I highlight below is that, although they're fairly easy to implement and inexpensive, they can be remarkably effective in delivering your message to the people who need to hear it.

Tool No. 1: PR

Got expertise? Share it! PR isn't hard to do, doesn't cost much and can deliver excellent results both in building brand awareness and generating sales leads. Lots of B2B companies have a compelling story to tell, and there are trade magazines and websites out there looking for interesting, relevant content. But most B2B firms don't even give PR a try.

The key is to get a few press releases out to print and online media that cover your target industry or profession. It's not enough to issue just a single release. But if you stick with it, continuing to send releases to the media outlets that reach your prospects, and if you have a story that would genuinely interest these outlets' audiences, you're likely to get media pickup. That coverage is one of the best ways to get your company's name into your target customers' heads.

Tool No. 2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Many companies haven't changed their approach to marketing as fully as they need to given the vast amount of business that's now being done online. Merely having a website is no longer enough; it's also essential to use SEO to build a critical mass of traffic to your site.

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