If you’re a business supplier, you’re continually faced with the challenge of growing your customer base. While referrals, email marketing and sales calls are the most-utilized (and maybe even pretty effective) tactics, would you ever consider using social media to reach new customers?
You might not be surprised to learn that 80 percent of small-business owners are active in social media for the purpose of promoting their own businesses — but only 2 percent list social media as the ideal channel for interacting with suppliers for their business, according to research from CEB Marketing to Small Business. So does that mean suppliers should never use social media to market to businesses? Not necessarily.
Even though small-business owners might not think social media is an ideal channel for interacting with suppliers, it’s hard to ignore the fact that small businesses are very active in social media and likely aware of their suppliers’ social presence as well. After all, no one is ever eager to admit they want to be targeted — especially in social! However, the reality is that social marketing is working, because the same research report shows that business owners’ awareness of suppliers’ social media presence rose 12 percentage points in the past two years, and 40 percent of owners reported feeling more positive about the supplier as a result.
So now that we know that social media is a channel worth pursuing, how should these channels be activated? The CEB suggests the best way to maximize social engagement with business prospects is by promoting special deals. This audience is not interested in industry content or your company-related events and info — after all, they have a business to run and time is money, so just show them the deals!
Social media advertising allows for excellent targeting abilities, so you can reach your ideal prospects with minimal waste. LinkedIn allows advertisers to target by job title, industry, company size, name and more. You can even upload an email list to Facebook and target just those specific individuals (minimum number of email matches required). But don’t stop with paid media — consider using your LinkedIn and/or Facebook presence to promote exclusive offerings and referral incentives to your current customers and prospects.