6 Keys to a Smarter B2B Growth Strategy

Patrick Whatman
Patrick Whatman  |  September 6, 2019

You have come across hundreds of long lists of growth strategies.

These are wonderful and always full of ideas, but they also tend to pose the same problem: If I have 55 marketing strategies to grow my business, where do I start?

More often than not, you don’t.

6 keys to a smarter B2B growth strategy

There are countless ways to encourage B2B growth, but with so much competition, it’s essential to focus your efforts on strategies you know will pay off. In this article, we’re going to zero in on changes you can make relatively quickly without spreading yourself too thin.

These are six keys to smarter B2B growth in 2019. 

1. Keep your content marketing focused

B2B companies thrive on good content marketing. The most reliable way to help people find your business is to create attractive content that answers specific needs. 

But that doesn’t mean that more is better. Far from it. 

Instead, keep your ideas close to home and stick to solving real problems your buyers have. Even if other topics might generate more traffic or “go viral,” the kinds of leads you’ll eventually generate simply won’t be worthwhile.  

Where to start? 

I love “the perfect post” strategy. What’s the one blog post that every prospect should read before choosing your solution? It should answer the most common problems your customers have and prove to them that they need you in their lives. 

This can be tricky - it’s not a sales document. You have to assume that they don’t know much about what you do or why they need you. So, begin by diagnosing their problems, discuss the best treatment options (strategies and techniques – not “buy my product!”), and then give a clear method for the reader to learn more about your solution. 

Note: This isn’t quite the same thing as pillar content. That’s a popular strategy to create comprehensive, all-encompassing articles and website pages, and dominate search results. 

Your perfect post might be a hit on Google, but that’s not actually the point. Instead, you’re trying to tell your company's missions in a concise and appealing article and make these the stars of your content strategy. 

The content pillar strategy takes a long time, serious investment, and thousands of words to succeed. However, the perfect post can actually be the first thing you write to help refine and publicize your value proposition. Then you can start worrying about traffic, ads, and eyeballs.

Joei Chan, head of content at Linkfluence, loves this strategy. “It’s so valuable to have that one piece of content that every prospect should read. Before you plan hundreds of blog posts and 10,000-word ultimate guides, start with something that you know answers all the FAQs and salespeople can easily use in their outreach.”

Do this for all of your buyer personas, addressing their specific needs each time. That might mean you have three-to-five perfect posts, each for a precise audience.

And once you’re certain that these posts have hit the mark, get traffic to them however you can. Send nurturing emails, post digital ads, and write supporting top-of-funnel content to attract attention.

2. Make your best content public

It’s natural to think that original research reports and detailed how-to guides should always be exclusive. This is top-level content, and readers should have to hand over some information to get it. 

But this may not be true anymore.

Your most exciting, eye-catching work needs to be public – not hidden behind a form. People barely have time to read long-form ebooks and ultimate guides, so they’re pretty unlikely to want to hand over personal information. 

This content is still valuable, and it looks good to Google as well as prospects. So put it out there where people can find it and where it can build some serious traffic to your business.

Which begs the question: do we get rid of forms and landing pages altogether? Definitely not. You have to have leads in the pipe and downloadable content is still a great way to get them. Because you still need to generate leads, our next key will come in handy.

Related: In 2019, content is a necessary element of a successful growth strategy. Learn what other B2B marketing trends are affecting the ways marketers do business.

3. Create value-added content – not endless ebooks

If you want to convert leads, you do still need people to fill out forms. The smart way to encourage this is with ready-to-use checklists, factsheets, and playbooks. 

Suppose you just found an incredible ultimate guide through Google. You’ve read the theory and understand the concepts. 

The next step is to put them into action. This is the position your prospects are now in. You can help them with workbooks, templates, and other ready-to-use downloadable content. 

For example, at Spendesk, a top-performing English downloadable is a simple checklist for finance teams. In French, it’s an Excel expense report template for traveling employees. These are both easily digestible documents that people love to share with colleagues and friends. 

In short, long and detailed is good for blog posts. For downloadable content, think short and useful. 

TIP: Read up on 10 useful content marketing examples that are sure to boost your B2B strategy. 

Learn more: 10 Content Marketing Examples →

4. Partner up with brands that can help

It makes sense to work hard on SEO. Search engines drive an enormous amount of traffic online, and search intent is a great indicator that a lead is interested. 

It takes a long time to build traffic, and there’s no guarantee that your blog and website will ever truly break through.

A more immediate approach to reach new buyers is to team up with another business that can complement your offer. This could be for an exclusive report or premium webinar – something that gives you a chance to speak to their audience directly. 

This is a great way to boost brand awareness and align your brand with another well-known one. However, it is also a great way to generate leads. You should have a decent idea of your partner’s audience and be able to team up with businesses that serve your target market, which makes this a fast and targeted lead generation strategy.

A few important factors to consider: 

  1. Their buyers should look like yours. If you’re an enterprise SaaS platform, resist the urge to partner with a free social media tool. You may get a ton of new leads, but chances you’ll find buyers are slim. 
  2. There needs to be a clear topic fit. It’s tempting to partner up with any great company, regardless of their expertise. This will just create headaches when you try to create content. 
  3. They should know how to promote. Try to agree on an appropriate number of downloads or sign-ups before you begin. At the very least, make sure they agree to send out alerts to their user base. 

Partnerships can be tough to find, and scheduling things with people outside the company is always a hassle. However, the payoff is virtually always worth it. So give it a shot!

5. A/B test – but sparingly

Testing is a core part of company growth. Once you start generating traffic and interest, you need to test to make sure that the way you’re converting leads is actually the most effective. 

This presents a daunting challenge: There are endless forms, fields, and buttons to test all over your website. Not to mention, there are email subject lines, blog headings, and behind-the-scenes workflows. 

Ideally, it would all be perfectly optimized, but most of us don’t have the time or resources. Instead, identify one-to-three crucial aspects of your buyer’s journey and make sure that you’re getting them right. 

For example, a lot of B2B businesses offer both a free trial and a demo as their main conversion points. Which should you prioritize on your homepage?

Test what happens if you only display one, the other, or both. At the same time, make sure you understand the expected value of a free trial versus a demo. You want to get the best possible mix and a lot of conversions that lead to even more revenue overall. 

TIP: You may not have the resources to live and breathe A/B testing, but a small investment in your most important assets will set you up for the long haul. View our A/B testing statistics to learn the true value of testing and testing again. 

Get 1,000's of Data Points Read A/B Testing software stats, updated in real time →

6. Bring sales into your marketing strategy

Sales and marketing alignment (SMarketing) has been a hot topic for a very long time. It truly is essential, especially if you’re using inbound marketing

Even your most enthusiastic salespeople won’t truly understand what your marketers do all day, and they’re never going to know every single blog post inside out. 

The best way to bridge this gap is to have sales help you with content promotion. Position them as the subject matter experts, and help them become consultants to each new prospect they meet.This is far more effective than sending round all-of-company emails or scheduling endless meetings with sales.

You’re always promoting something new, and sales teams simply won’t be able to keep up. So, present them with everything they need to be part of your next campaign. They get to look clever and well-informed, and you get to market to their (hopefully large) sales network. 

A few strategies to do exactly this: 

  • Have individual salespeople promote new content on LinkedIn. They should already have large and thriving B2B networks on the social platform. If not, this is a way to grow them. 
  • Bring a salesperson into your next webinar. Even better, have them host the whole thing. You build the partnership and write the content, but your salesperson should present it as an expert.
  • Create short social media videos with them as the stars. Give them the topic and the key talking points, and help them present ideas in one-to-two minutes. This is also valuable when they connect with prospects on social media - it lets others see their faces and hear their voices. 

From a business point of view, having salespeople as experts is the best possible outcome. Your marketing efforts can support this aim, and it’s a great promotion channel as well. 

Conclusion

Digital marketing is already so crowded, and some companies have become so dominant that trying to out-create everyone else is a losing battle. Instead, modern marketers need to focus on strategies they know can work and be done without moving mountains. 

The six strategies we’ve seen are exactly that – simple, effective, and repeatable. Just the way your marketing should be. 

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Patrick Whatman
Author

Patrick Whatman

Patrick Whatman is Content Marketing Lead at Spendesk. He lives in Paris, loves music, and writes his own brand of cultural criticism for fun. Tweet him @mrwhatman where he mainly talks digital marketing, American sports, and New Zealand trivia.