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No Search Engine Traffic for Your Niche B2B Product or Service? Try This…

January 19, 2011

One of the biggest challenges niche providers of B2B products and services face when generating leads via the Internet can be finding the demand. When a company creates truly innovative products which may be the first of it’s kind to solve a unique problem, people don’t know what to search for… or even that they should be searching. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality can be limiting our leads, so how do we connect the dots from problem to our solution? There are two methods of traffic generation we’ll discuss, along with several basic techniques. The actual implementation of these techniques could easily be their own (very long, and potentially very nerdy) blog posts, so please contact us if you’d like us to expand more about an item.

Generic solutions to customers’ problems

What are the generic phrases used to solve customers’ problem? I may be selling a sales assessment test, but potential buyers may not be aware this exists to the same degree they know “sales training consulting” exists. Creating content optimized for the latter can open the floodgate for traffic where you can then educate them about their other options. How do we find these? 1) Start by locating all the trade magazines and websites in your industry. This solution-oriented content speaks less about brand (or at least is more circumspect), and more about problem => solution. 2) Who are your direct competitors? Everyone has some, though oddly enough 4 of 5 companies we talk to in the sales process are reluctant to admit any company competes against them. We’re not asking them for who is better, or to admit weakness. Who solves the same problems for a set of customers? Make a list of perhaps 5 of them. Now look through yours and their websites and any other materials you can get your hands on. How do all of you solve the problem for customers?

How do B2B customers describe their problem?

If we are selling antivirus software,  a problem may be customers don’t know they have a virus. Their computer is just slow or acting oddly. Going back to the B2B well of examples, a sales assessment test is a focused solution for a more generic search to “improve sales”. There are hundreds of other ways customers may try to solve just this one problem. What applies in your industry?

Brand comparisons

The goal here is to optimize your site to appear for other brands. This is easy with pay per click, though is getting harder to keep ads live on Google. SEO is considerably more tricky and makes companies nervous, but it shouldn’t if done with care and respect. Yes… you can make a direct comparison of your product and services. This is a pretty aggressive technique, so proceed with caution and make sure your company is standing on firm ground. Competitors will fire back somehow.

Using 3rd Party B2B Research Firms

A better solution is to let a research firm do the comparisons. Companies like Gartner make a living generating these types of well-researched reports, which companies included can then give to prospective customers. It’s not your fault Gartner ranked you #1 over all the top brands in your field. Again, proceed with judicious use of their brand.

3rd party articles

Anyone else not directly tied to you can compare companies and services (e.g. bloggers, magazines, etc.). Let them drop the axe – just make sure you know who is getting axed.

Personalities

Who are the key players in your market? Can you get interviews with them? I bet you can. Having formats for both text and video/audio is even better, because you can leverage Google’s use of Youtube in their search results. Using interviews in this manner is a way to leapfrog off someone else’s brand with their express approval. Why not? You’re building their brand for them.

Target demographics/audiences rather than search terms

This can be where having a blog comes in handy. If you want, even strip the dates out of it so you don’t feel compelled to post frequently. Now you have a way to easily add content to your site so anyone you want from the company can be involved. What we’re doing with this technique is to explore our audience deeper. What types of websites do they visit? Who do they listen to – who are the big thinkers in their industry or related fields? What are some of the demographics of this group?Yes, any field has people of all different kinds, but you can make generalizations once the data is laid out there. Avoiding paralysis by analysis is crucial here to make sure you get value. Blogging about topics, events, and people related to what the majority of your customer base cares about is a sure winner. In the process of marketing these blog posts, you may even find yourself developing partnerships with related but non-competing businesses. Making good use of referrals and affiliate relationships can grow both of your businesses and raise your average value per customer. This technique works for SEO, but it REALLY works for paid search traffic. Namely, contextual and even banner advertising. Banner ads are reserved for when you have a provably winning offer, so test first with contextual advertising. Google’s content network is the lion’s share of traffic and an easy way to locate a winning offer. There are numerous other options for display advertising at cost per click rates instead of plunking down hundreds to thousands of dollars on an untested idea.

Start Now for “First Mover” Advantage

If you are in a market where finding either organic or paid search engine traffic is difficult, the odds are in your favor. Most of your competition is probably not doing well at this either, or even doing it at all. First-Mover advantage in SEO is similar to first-mover advantage in being the first to put a mexican restaurant in a new shopping center. It’s a niche market, and as long as you don’t blow your own foot off, it is harder to supplant intentionally-SEO-optimized top rankings in search engines. Skeptical about the value of SEO and PPC for niche B2B services? While search engines may never replace relationship marketing, it can be a steady and repeatable source of quality leads for your business. Contact us if you have any questions about the techniques briefly outlined in this article, or if you would like to start generating more traffic to your niche B2B products and services.

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