As a smaller B2B business, competing with the larger players in your industry can seem a daunting prospect. You may often put off going for the larger accounts, and focus on working with other small businesses, because "large businesses like to do business with other large businesses". Can inbound marketing help B2B businesses to overcome this problem, though?
It's an interesting question. The great thing about the internet is that it levels the playing field when it comes to exposure. A small business can create a YouTube video that generates monumental brand awareness (the One Dollar Shave Club is a great example). An independent consultant can write a highly resonating blog post that makes it into LinkedIn Pulse, resulting in him being overbooked for the year ahead. An amateur musician can share their music on SoundCloud, and start to grow a big following, resulting in their first ever live gig bookings. The reach of the internet is unmatched, and its social nature means that huge budgets aren't required to reach thousands, if not millions of people. All it requires is a bit of creativity, and creating great content which resonates with your target audience. A very different world to the one driven by mass media no more than 20 years ago.
As a small business, this gives you a lot more power to grow, and harness the benefits of the web. Lots of large companies are scared to create truly compelling, engaging content, or polarise their opinions. Have you seen what happens to a compelling blog post after it's been through PR & legal departments? Large businesses are inherently risk averse, which means that they often avoid being controversial, or creating confident content. This is the very type of content that really resonates with audiences, and can be a rocket ship in terms of launching your brand. "Our blades are f**ing great" is an unofficial strapline that takes guts, but one that resonated exceptionally well amongst the One Dollar Shave Club's target demographic. Could you ever imagine Gillette doing that?
As a smaller business, you're typically not currently looking to take huge swathes of market share, instead you are looking to cater to a small (proportionally speaking), specific part of a market in a better way than your larger competitors can. As a smaller business you benefit from being agile and able to focus on problems and challenges large businesses would ignore due to being "too small" to please their shareholders. Whilst a large business may reject a £10m/yr revenue stream, you can tremendously grow your business by filling that need in the marketplace.
Inbound marketing gives you the opportunity to create content around your specialisms, and the specific problems your business helps other companies to solve. You can produce content which resonates with your prospects, and dials in on these smaller problems much more strongly than your larger competitor's content will, and this will enable you to engage with your prospects on a lower level. Better engaging prospects vastly increases your chances of securing a sale, even from those larger businesses you've previously thought were impossible to sell to. If you create enough great content and convince your readers of your expertise with that content, you also far more readily deal with some of the challenges small businesses face, like a lack of case studies and referencability within your buyer's industry.
If you can get the buyer at a large company reading through your blogpost or eGuide, and nodding along agreeing with everything you say, thinking "these guys get it" -- you're in an extremely strong position. A position that puts you ahead of your competitors yet to effectively embrace the inbound marketing concept. A position that really makes you stand out from the crowd of solution providers in your space whether they're bigger, smaller, younger, or older.
Have you had more success selling to other (especially larger) businesses after embracing inbound marketing? Perhaps you have some tips of your own you can share, that would help our readers to better engage their buyers? Share in the comments below!