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12 Ways to Market & Grow Your B2B Startup

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Launching a B2B startup is akin to navigating uncharted waters. Every decision feels crucial, every step forward a leap of faith. And amidst the whirlwind of product development, client acquisition, and team building, one aspect often takes a backseat: marketing.

Perhaps your current marketing “strategy” looks like this: your team huddled around a whiteboard, brainstorming fervently, mapping out strategies.

It’s a scene familiar to many startups, where the weight of success rests delicately on your ability to showcase your offer. And where giants and newcomers alike vie for attention, crafting a B2B marketing strategy is essential for growth.

The real challenge lies in your ability to create campaigns that not only resonate with your target customers but drive tangible results, i.e. sales. 

So, forget the guesswork and get started with strategies that will actually get you noticed!

In this guide, we’re covering 12 tried-and-tested startup marketing strategies to set you on the right path, accelerate your traffic, and build a lead generation engine.

1. Develop a go-to-market strategy

Before diving into individual marketing strategies, you need to build THE strategy: your go-to-market strategy. This is where you develop a well-articulated plan for how to first introduce your service or product to the market.

Many startups “wing it” when it comes to their go-to-market strategy, perhaps making an announcement on LinkedIn, running a Meta ad, or sending an email blast. But without planning, this can be a waste of time, effort, and resources.

Developing a go-to-market strategy for a B2B startup requires a meticulous approach that integrates market research, product positioning, and planned execution. 

First, start by conducting thorough market research to gain insights into your target audience. Identify their pain points, challenges, and needs that your product or service can address. Create audience segments based on relevant criteria such as industry, company size, or geographic location.

If you haven’t done so already, craft a value statement. This is where you articulate the value your product or service offers to your target audience. Consider: What sets you apart from competitors? How does your solution solve their problems or fulfill their needs better than existing alternatives? 

Next, identify your distribution channels. Which platforms are likely to be the most effective in reaching your target audience? These could include direct sales, cold calling, social media, email, and/or content marketing. Choose channels that align with your audience’s preferences and behaviors (ideally, based on data collected during your market research).

Craft a compelling messaging and positioning strategy. It can be helpful to work with a professional copywriter to develop concise messaging that communicates your value proposition effectively to your target audience. Your messaging should address the pain points and needs of the buyer persona(s) within your target market. 

Finally, launch your campaign and monitor progress. Establish your key performance indicators (KPIs) early to define what “success” means to your company. Then, use native analytics tools (like within your social media platforms or Google Analytics) to adjust your strategy based on what is or is not working. 

2. Find strategic referral partners

One of the best ways to garner attention for your B2B startup is to form relationships with strategic referral partners. These are professionals or businesses adjacent to your industry that can vouch for your service/product and send new leads your way.

Finding referral partners requires both a strategic and relationship-driven approach. On the strategic side, you should find partners whose target audiences are closely aligned with yours. On the relationship side, you should invest in relationships that are authentic and likely to be long-lasting. 

Start by conducting research to identify potential partners who operate within your target market or serve similar customer segments. Look for businesses or professionals whose products or services complement yours without directly competing. Reach out to these potential partners through networking events, industry associations, or mutual connections to initiate conversations and explore potential collaboration opportunities. 

Some examples of potential referral partners for a B2B startup include:

  • Businesses that offer services that complement your own can be valuable referral partners. For example, if you provide marketing automation software, a company specializing in content creation services could refer clients who need additional support in those areas.
  • Industry associations and trade organizations
  • Consultants and marketing agencies
  • Technology resellers
  • Business incubators or accelerators
  • Customer advocates, i.e. satisfied customers who believe in your product and are excited to send referrals your way.

After reaching out, you can highlight the mutual benefits of partnering, such as access to new markets, expanded offerings for customers, and increased revenue streams. It can be helpful to  demonstrate the application of your offering, the results, and case studies to help build trust in your company.

It’s important to protect your interests as well, so be sure to establish clear expectations and agreements regarding referral terms, incentives, and ongoing communication. This helps ensure a mutually beneficial partnership and long-term success.

3. Implement website SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a form of inbound marketing that can drive traffic and leads to your business, passively, every month. If implemented early, an evergreen SEO strategy can generate new business for years and years to come.

The key to SEO is to identify the search terms (aka. “keywords”) your audience is using to find services or products like yours in Google. Here’s a process for how to do that:

  1. List out the products or services you offer. These will become the “root” terms you use to conduct your keyword research.
  2. Sign up for an SEO tool like Semrush.com or Ahrefs.com to search for these root terms. The tools will confirm 1) whether there is monthly Search Volume and 2) whether the keywords are low, medium, or high competition.
  3. Identify keywords that 1) are relevant to the service/product, 2) have Search Volume, and 3) have medium to low competition so you can have your best chances of ranking.
  4. “Map” the most relevant keywords to your respective service or product pages. For example, if you have a web page for your small business accounting software, you might apply keywords like “accounting software for small business”, “small business accounting software”, and “small business accounting tool”.

Once you have mapped keywords to all of your respective product or service pages (if available), you’ll need to implement SEO best practices, such as including the target keyword in the page title, including the target keyword(s) throughout the body copy, writing an engaging meta description, and ensuring your website is fast and mobile-friendly.

Semrush.com has a great guide on how to implement SEO best practices!

4. Optimize your social media profiles

Many companies jump right into social media marketing without implementing the basics: optimizing your profiles! Many social media platforms work like search engines, and optimizing your profiles for keywords can help you generate traffic right away.

For example, your LinkedIn page description should explain what you offer, who you serve, and how best to contact you. You should also include keywords throughout your description and content to improve your visibility in LinkedIn search.

Similarly, your Instagram title and description can include keywords that describe your product or service. So instead of “[Software name]”, your title could be “[Software name] – Project Management Solutions”, or similar.

If your business has a local presence (and wants to attract customers in your area), publishing and optimizing directory listings can help you drive traffic. Google Business Profile, Yelp, Bing for Business, and similar are all great platforms to showcase your business.

Beyond that, publishing engaging content, with relevant hashtags, and interacting with customer and partner accounts, can help drum up visibility for your brand. 

5. Run PPC ad campaigns

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a type of outbound marketing where you run ads to get placement in front of potential customers. As the name suggests, you pay for each click on your ad.

There are many PPC advertising platforms, and the ones you use may vary depending on where your audience is most active online. Here are the most common platforms and how to use them:

  • Google Ads: Google Ads allows advertisers to bid on keywords related to their business and create text, display, or video ads that appear on Google’s search results pages, websites within the Google Display Network, and YouTube. To run Google Ads, first identify relevant keywords related to your B2B product or service. Then, create compelling ad copy that highlights your value proposition, and target specific audience demographics, interests, or behaviors. You can then monitor performance metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) to optimize your campaigns over time.
  • LinkedIn Ads: LinkedIn Ads allows advertisers to target professionals based on job title, company size, industry, and other professional attributes. Ad formats include sponsored content, sponsored InMail, and text ads, which appear in users’ feeds, messages, and on the platform’s sidebar. Similar to Google Ads, you can define your target audience based on criteria such as job function, industry, and company size. Then, create engaging ad content that speaks to the pain points and needs of your B2B audience. Experiment with different ad formats and targeting options to reach decision-makers and influencers within your target companies.
  • Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads enable advertisers to create highly targeted ads that appear in users’ news feeds, on Instagram, Messenger, and in the right column of Facebook’s desktop interface. Ad formats include image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and more. Develop visually appealing ads that resonate with your audience and include compelling messaging that addresses their business challenges or goals. Utilize retargeting to engage with users who have previously interacted with your website or content.
  • Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads): Microsoft Advertising allows advertisers to run ads on Bing search results pages, as well as on Yahoo and AOL. Ad formats include text ads, shopping ads, and app install ads. Similar to Google Ads, identify relevant keywords related to your B2B product or service and create compelling ad copy that addresses the needs of your target audience. Leverage Microsoft Advertising’s audience targeting options to reach B2B professionals based on demographics, interests, or search behavior. 

When running PPC ads, it’s essential to monitor your performance metrics, test different ad creatives and targeting options, and continually optimize your campaigns to improve results. This will help you reach more customers while getting the best return on your ad spend.

6. Build (and nurture) an email list

Your email list is one of the few assets you actually “own” when it comes to your marketing. Whereas social media platforms can shut down and you might lose your content, you can always save and access your email list.

There are many ways to build an email list as a B2B startup. You can use these offerings to attract new leads and gain subscribers:

  • Lead Magnets: Offer valuable content resources such as eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, or industry reports that address specific pain points or challenges faced by your target audience. Promote these lead magnets through your website, blog posts, social media channels, and targeted advertising campaigns to incentivize visitors to subscribe to your email list in exchange for access to the resource.
  • Webinars and workshops: Host educational webinars or workshops on topics relevant to your industry or target market. Invite industry experts or thought leaders to share insights, best practices, and actionable strategies. Require attendees to register for the event, collecting their email addresses in the process. 
  • Content upgrades: Enhance the value of your blog posts, articles, or other content assets by offering content upgrades such as downloadable templates, checklists, or bonus resources. Encourage readers to subscribe to your email list to access these additional resources, which provide practical solutions or tools related to the topic discussed in the content.
  • Newsletter sign-up forms: Place newsletter sign-up forms on your website, blog, and landing pages to capture the interest of visitors who want to stay updated on your company news, product updates, industry insights, and valuable content. 
  • Free trials or demos: Offer free trials or product demos to prospective customers interested in experiencing your B2B solution firsthand. Require users to provide their email addresses to sign up for the trial or demo, allowing you to follow up with them via email to provide support, gather feedback, and nurture them through the sales funnel.
  • Exclusive offers and discounts: Provide exclusive offers, discounts, or promotions to subscribers as a way to incentivize sign-ups and reward loyal customers. Create targeted email campaigns to promote these special offers and drive conversions among your email list subscribers.

As you start building your list, implement a multi-step email campaign (or several) to nurture your list into potential customers. For instance, one Day 1 you can send an introduction to your company and share your value statement, on Day 2 you could share a client testimonial video, on Day 3 you link to a blog post about how to apply your service, on Day 4 you share a tutorial, and so forth. 

7. Invest in Influencer Marketing

Yes, Influencer Marketing is still as effective as ever! However, it often gets a bad rap. An “Influencer” it’s just someone who does Amazon hauls or promotes smoothies on Instagram.

In the B2B space, an Influencer could be a major thought leader, personality, YouTuber, or other professional that has built a following in their space. B2B-adjacent influencers can include marketing experts, podcasters, technology professionals, business bloggers, and more.

Your B2B startup can leverage partnerships with influencers to get your product or service in front of more businesses. For example, say you offer lead generation services for law firms. There might be a leading legal news expert that shares helpful content for lawyers, and can promote your service to their audience.

Keep in mind that these engagements are usually paid because it is a form of advertising. If you have a limiting advertising budget, it can be helpful to pursue “micro” influencers with smaller audiences (and lower rates). Great sources of influencers include Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and X. 

8. Create thought leadership content

Thought leadership content is educational, insightful, and authoritative content that positions your company as a trusted resource within your field. It goes beyond promotional material to offer valuable insights, and perspectives on relevant topics, trends, and challenges faced by your audience.

This type of content helps your brand differentiate itself in your market, attract potential clients, and build long-term relationships based on trust.

Here are just a few examples to inspire your strategy:

  • Whitepapers:
    • “The Future of Remote Work: Strategies for Building a Flexible and Productive Workforce”
    • “AI on the Rise: How Digital Intelligence is Changing the Game for Tech Companies”
  • Case Studies:
    • “How Company X Increased Sales Revenue by 30% with AI-Powered Sales Automation”
  • Expert Interviews:
    • “Insights from Industry Leaders: Navigating Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Sector”
  • Webinars:
    • “Unlocking the Power of Data Analytics: Strategies for Leveraging Data to Drive Business Growth”
  • Blog Posts:
    • “The Rise of Sustainability in Supply Chain Management: How Businesses Can Drive Positive Environmental Impact”
  • Industry Reports:
    • “State of Cybersecurity in the Financial Services Sector: Emerging Threats and Risk Mitigation Strategies”
  • Social Media Discussions:
    • “The Future of AI in Healthcare: Opportunities and Ethical Considerations”

Get creative by experimenting with different content types and platforms. Quality content can often be repurposed and re-distributed for years to come, driving long-term results for your company.

9. Land contributor placements and interviews

Securing contributor placements, such as guest posting opportunities and interviews, can be immensely beneficial for B2B companies seeking to generate views and attract potential clients. 

For example, contributing insightful articles to industry publications, blogs, or platforms can allow you to position your brand as a thought leader within your niche. Similarly, participating in interviews, podcasts, or webinars provides an opportunity for your company to share its knowledge, experience, and perspectives with a targeted audience.

The platforms you reach out to will depend on your niche, but some examples include:

  • Online magazines
  • Industry publications and blogs
  • YouTube channels
  • Podcasts
  • Online forums
  • Facebook Groups
  • Webinar hosts
  • Business associations
  • LinkedIn influencers

As these contributions garner views, engagement, and shares across various channels, they not only drive traffic back to your website but also attract the attention of potential clients. Pursuing contributor placements can help you expand your reach and ultimately convert views into valuable client opportunities.

10. Advertise your products/services on YouTube

Video content is HUGE, especially with YouTube being one of the world’s largest search engines. If you aren’t using YouTube to grow your startup, you could be missing out on hundreds if not thousands of potential customers.

Use a YouTube keyword research tool like TubeBuddy to come up with searchable content ideas. These could relate to common questions your audience has, branded terms related to your company, product reviews, or tutorials.

You don’t need high-tech tools to record great content, either. Most times, you can use a smartphone (with a tripod) or a computer webcam to record video and audio. It can be helpful to create a script first to keep your video on topic.

Once you have recorded and edited your video, upload it to YouTube and implement YouTube SEO. This involves including your target keyword in your video title, adding an eye-catching thumbnail, adding “tags” according to your topic, and including a detailed description. We also recommend including a call-to-action within your video and in the video description.

YouTube videos can rank in YouTube search and in the Google search results, giving you several opportunities to drive traffic. Once live, embed your video on a related web page on your website to give it even more of a boost!

11. Create branded merchandise 

Most of the methods we have described in this article relate to digital marketing but this strategy relates to a physical form of advertising: merch! This is when you put your logo, tagline, or some other indicators of your brand on physical products.

Creating branded merchandise can help turn your team members and happy customers into essentially walking billboards for your brand! Of course, the key is to make the merch creative and eye-catching so 1) people will actually want it and 2) other people will be intrigued to learn more.

VistaPrint allows you to add your own designs to nearly every kind of merchandise, often without minimum order requirements. Some such products include:

  • Hats
  • T-shirts
  • Mugs
  • Tumblers
  • Stickers
  • Notebooks
  • Planners
  • Magnets
  • Water bottles
  • Bags
  • Backpacks
  • Coolers
  • Pencils
  • Travel gear

Consider selling branded merchandise on your website (for additional revenue) and/or sending free swag to existing customers. This can be a sweet “Thank you” for their business and can drum up more visibility for your brand.

12. Build a lead generation engine

Advertising a startup can take a lot of effort (and money), especially if you are doing all your marketing in-house. Often, outsourcing your lead generation to an agency is a cost-saving way to get more customers without overextending your team. For instance, at Superhuman Prospecting, we provide fully outsourced cold calling, lead generation, and appointment setting services for B2B businesses like yours, at an affordable price!

Free up more time for your team to focus on what matters most – serving your customers – by outsourcing lead gen to a reputable agency. At Superhuman Prospecting, we conduct the research, build the strategy, and run the execution to send new leads directly to you, without you having to lift a finger!

Complement your existing marketing efforts with an automated lead generation engine. We would love to help your B2B startup get in front of more customers while improving your bottom line! Contact us today to learn more. 

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