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B2B Marketing Strategy for Early-Stage Start-ups

Jasper Meurs
Hosted by Jasper Meurs on Sep 08, 2022

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To grow your business you need to be able to sell more, which is obvious. But what is exactly needed for an early-stage B2B startup to achieve this? I have consulted many early-stage B2B start-ups over the year and in this episode I’m going to talk about what I have learned that works.

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I am Jasper Meurs and you are listening to Growth Journal, the podcast where I talk about everything I'm learning while I am growing my business. And to grow your business, you need to be able to sell more, which is kind of obvious. But what is exactly needed for an early stage B2B startup to achieve this? As a HubSpot consultant, I have consulted many early stage B2B startups over the years. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about what I have learned that works.

So let's start with the first important thing. That's what is really required for someone to buy your product or service? And there's one thing that keeps coming back and that is trust. And together with trust also social proof, but these go together a little bit.

So maybe think about the last time you bought a new product or service. What did you do? I know that whenever I buy a new product or a service, let's say it's not a product from Apple, because Apple obviously has created this trust over the years already. I own many Apple products. They always deliver. Their customer service is great, which makes that I keep going back to them. So that's a bit self-explanatory. But whenever I'm looking for a new product or service, I definitely go on to read some reviews. Maybe, let's go to an example which basically happened yesterday. And that is over the years, I've used many Anchor products. I've used their external batteries. I have used their cables and it basically became a default. Whenever I needed a cable or a battery, I just bought something from Anchor and I knew that it would be great.

Now what happened yesterday is the cable that I most recently bought from Anchor, I think a three meter USBC cable, which would be able to do, I think, upwards of 100 Watts, or maybe just 100 Watts. So we used it as a charging cable for my MacBook Pro and it just stopped working. So whenever I plug it into my MacBook now, it charges, it stops charging, it charges again, it stops charging. But this experience means that next time I'm looking to buy something as an external battery or a cable, I'm probably not going to be looking at Anchor anytime soon anymore. And this was confirmed by some reviews that I looked up on the cable itself, which also were talking about the same experience.

And the first thing I started looking at when this happened was Apple's products. So in the past, I've never really thought about buying any cables from Apple because they always seemed overpriced to me. And I just got into the habit of ordering these things from Anchor, but Apple has never really let me down, or at least they didn't let me down without fixing the issue. So this is a great example for me of how trusts plays a very important role in why you buy something. Let's give one other quick example, something that probably anyone can relate to. You're in a new place and you're looking for a restaurant. Now I have a habit, I will look up restaurants on Foursquare, I will look them up on Google Maps, on Apple Maps. But whenever a restaurant has less than four to five stars, so less than four, I will not go there. I tried this in the past, but usually this is not a great place to go. Either the service is not good or the food is not good, but something will be a little bit off.

So this is another example where especially social proof in this case, or the reviews of other people, play a very important role in why someone would buy your product or service. Now, this brings us to the next topic, which is how can we actually build this trust? And one of the great ways to do this as a early stage B2B startup is by creating content and helping people around the product or service that you are offering. So for example, if you are the founder of a company that's creating an app, a to do app, now there are a lot of to do apps in the world already, but this is just an easy example for everyone to understand. Instead of just putting out some ads for this new to do app that you created, start creating some content on the methods that you are using to stay productive.

And you can talk about these methods themselves, how you can maybe use it more like a piece of paper, but at the end of the article, you can also explain how you are working on an app that makes this process even easier. So you are helping people, but you're also making them aware of the product that you are offering. And this will help you become the number one authority in your space. That's basically what we're aiming for. Probably in some spaces, it's really hard to become the number one authority, but this is what we're aiming for. And last but not least, building this trust also has to do with interacting with your audience. So let's say you put out some social posts on how you can be more productive, and people are asking questions. Make sure that you actually address these questions as well, so that you will actually help these people.

Let's give an example about this. I think one of the better examples that I've seen about this so far is Ahrefs. Ahrefs is a tool to do as your research and their blog is their biggest driver of new subscriptions. I'll repeat that again because it's very important. They have a blog where they help people on how to do SEO and this is the biggest driver of new subscriptions. Not the ad campaigns that they're running, but their blog. So their blog posts are always helpful. They will be talking about a specific topic within SEO. They will go through the entire process of how you can do this. So for example, how to use meta titles, how to use meta descriptions, what your page structure needs to be like, how important it is that your site is fast. And they will make sure that this blog post can actually help you. This is something actionable. This is something you can work with.

And at the end of this blog post, they will also tell you, how if you're using the Ahrefs app, this can make things even more efficient for you. You will save time by using this app instead of doing a certain process manually, or you will be able to keep better track of the different keywords that you're targeting and how you are growing with those keywords, how your ranking is improving for those specific keywords. Now, it's not just about creating this content for organic purposes, so for your blog, for your social media channels, but you can also use this content for your ad campaigns as well. And you can actually use the organic reach of your posts as an indicator of what might be a good ad campaign to begin with.

So let's say you put out 10 posts each week, and most of them are getting, let's say like 2000 views, but there was this one that really took off and it got like 200,000 views. Now you know that this is something that's like triggering people to take action, triggering people to actually watch the entire thing in case we're talking about a video. So this might actually be a very interesting one to use in an ad campaign, because the better the content for your ad campaign is performing, the better that your campaign in general will also be. Because platforms tend to charge more for underperforming ads, but that's a whole different story, but this is a very good indicator to pick the right content for your ad campaigns. And this will also teach you to not just see ad campaigns as a push platform where you're constantly talking about your product, but as a pull platform, to make sure that people get to know your brand, that you're bringing value to these people, and that you're really building your brand in the process.

And last but not least, your salespeople will be forever thankful since they will have a great library of valuable content at their disposal, which they can use during the sales process. As a salesperson it can sometimes be very difficult to do a decent follow up with prospects. A conversation will go silent. You're expecting an answer, but not hearing anything. And instead of sending out a quick email, like, "Hey, did you have a chance to look at my previous email? Are there any questions?" You can ask the same question, but then be like, "PS. I also had this great piece of content that I found on our website the other day about the exact issue that you are facing. Maybe this is an interesting read for you. If you have any questions, please let me know. I'm always here to help." It immediately changes the conversation. You're not just following up. You're bringing value. Each transaction that you have for a prospect, you have for the client, should bring value in some way.

Now this brings us to the end of this episode, but let's do a quick recap and make this actionable. So the first thing is, try to figure out what questions your prospect might have. You can find these using Google, YouTube, Reddit, Ahrefs, or in case you're already in contact with most of these prospects, during cold outreach by your sale team. You can use these questions as well to start creating content around these questions, preferably video content, as it will create a better connection with your audience. But of course you can still create blog posts from these videos as well to improve your SEO, because this is also very important. And this is something that you can just ask a copywriter like, "Hey, we have just created this video. Could you please watch it>" Or maybe take a couple of videos together because you want a blog post to always bring more value, I feel. And create a blog post about this.

Another thing that I've recently started doing, but I'm just quickly adding this in, because I'm just thinking about it, is I started requesting transcripts of these podcasts. Then add these to the website to see how much of a difference this will make for SEO. And I've definitely already seen a couple of keywords where my website is popping up now because of the transcripts that I'm adding for these different podcast episodes. So that's an interesting one as well. Just leaving this here. It's still an experimental phase for myself, but it's something I'm learning and I'll obviously report back on this in later episodes whenever I have more data available for this experiment.

Then use your best videos in a campaign to reach even more people, so what we were talking about earlier and last, but not least, make sure to train your sales people on using this content in the sales process as well. So this makes that the content that you're creating is not waiting for your audience to come to you, which is something that will eventually happen, trust me. But you're also putting it to action right away, both in ad campaigns and in your sales process. As always, thanks for listening to Growth Journal. If you enjoy our show, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. I would greatly appreciate it. And be sure to come back next week for more actionable growth insights.

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