Does your small business marketing strategy get the attention of corporate clients? According to American Express’ recent 2019 Survey of Small & Midsize Business Suppliers, those businesses that have corporate contracts expect to grow by at least 50% in the next five years. And over 81% of those businesses that were surveyed expect to increase their sales to “big” businesses – those with over $1 billion in revenue – over the next five years.
Is it worth investing in marketing tools to attract big business?
Read on for answers and ideas on how to get attention from big businesses (for free) for your own small business.
Benefits of Selling to Corporate America
Working with corporate clients benefits small businesses in several ways. These include:
- Increased revenue (over 64% of respondents)
- Further diversified income streams (40% of respondents)
- Organic growth (40% of respondents)
- Expanded public profile
- Access to new markets
- Easier access to financing
As Donna Donato, Vice President of Strategic Sourcing and Business Enablement for American Express says in their press release, “Contracting With corporations offers tremendous growth opportunities for businesses across every industry and can help drive supply chain competitiveness, unlock innovation, provide access to new markets, and deliver positive socioeconomic impact in local markets.”
One often-overlooked fringe benefit of selling to corporate America is that it can open doors for small businesses struggling to get financing. According to the Amex report, 74% of business owners said that working on corporate contracts led to more flexibility in finding small business loans and funding.
Online Small Business Marketing Through Social Media
If your small business marketing activities don’t include social media networking, you could miss out on a significant opportunity to connect with corporate clients. Social media networking is an effective low-cost strategy for promoting your business.
Slightly more than half – 51% – of the Amex survey respondents said participating in online social networking through different groups was the most effective small business marketing activity they pursued. Online group activity on social media platforms exposes you to corporate contacts, such as company procurement professionals.
Finding Social Media Networking Opportunities for Your Small Business
One of the best things about small business marketing through online social networking is that it’s free. However, it can also be a major time suck.
To raise your profile to catch the eyes of corporate clients you need to work efficiently. The key here is to find out where on social media your best potential corporate contacts spend time. Is it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or somewhere else?
Start your social media marketing activities with LinkedIn, a social network focused on business networking, in particular.
Before you jump into the actual networking though, make sure your LinkedIn personal profile and company page are optimized and up-to-date. Follow at least five hashtags relevant to your industry so your newsfeed gets populated with news and updates to keep you current in your field. Like, comment, or share a couple of these posts daily, in addition to any of your own posts.
Working with LinkedIn Groups
Next, move on to LinkedIn groups.
Use the search bar to find groups based on your best industry keywords. For example, say your business provides widgets for restaurants.
A search of the keyword “restaurants” yields 1663 LinkedIn groups. (Note: remember to click on the button for “Groups” otherwise you’ll see a bazillion posts and profiles of people who work in restaurants.) Results get arranged by membership in descending order.
Browse the groups, join a few that have active discussions and start commenting. Make a point of adding valuable insights and asking thought-provoking questions.
Pay close attention to the job titles of the members you interact with. Note who works for companies you want to do business with and find opportunities to interact with them within the group.
Once you position yourself as a knowledgeable and consistently valuable group member, you (and your business) are more likely to get the attention of the decision-makers in the corporations.
The same holds true for Facebook groups. Find the groups your target business customers hang out in. Then join them and add value to the ongoing discussions as part of your business marketing strategy. Accept LinkedIn invites and/or Facebook friend requests as they pop up and you’ll be on your way.
Get Noticed in Your Niche
Another free small business marketing technique of connecting with potential corporate clients involves getting noticed in your niche market as a subject matter expert.
In addition to the various social media platforms, check out sites that let you answer user questions in your niche.
Answer Questions on Quora
On Q & A site Quora, a community of users asks and answer very specific questions. It’s massive, with over 100 million monthly users. Even better, you’ll find categories for all sorts of industry expert (and not-so-expert) discussions. Set up an account and start answering questions.
Here’s the thing. Lengthy, well-written Quora answers have a tendency to rank quickly in Google. And that increases the likelihood of your business getting on the radar of a future corporate client.
Register on HARO
Have you heard of HARO? HARO is the acronym for Help a Reporter. It’s a free site that connects reporters and writers with subject matter experts and potential sources. HARO can be a useful small business marketing tool.
Here’s how HARO works. Reporters post requests for sources on specific topics. HARO staff then email these requests to sources who register for the specific topic/area of interest. When you answer these requests, the reporter might include your answer in their article.
For online articles, you might even get a link back to your site. At the very least, your knowledge gets showcased in the article. All the major American news outlets and many large business sites use HARO. It can be a good way to raise your profile and get on the radar of corporate clients.
Small Business Marketing & Networking Offline
When it comes to free small business marketing ideas, don’t forget that offline, real-world networking still has value. This is especially true when you run a small town business.
Local Business Networks
Your local network, even in a rural area, has connections with people in larger centers. And as access to technology shrinks the business world, corporations look farther afield for suppliers and contractors.
Look for the chance to make valuable real-world, offline business connections. Hop online to find your local chapter of a national business organization, like the Chamber of Commerce. Join them and attend their meetings. Focus on building relationships one at a time, the most valuable offline small business marketing technique according to 44% of the survey respondents.
Local COCs often include professionals like lawyers, engineers, and accountants. These individuals usually belong to state-wide or national associations. Their wider network could include useful contacts in corporate and enterprise business.
Trade Shows and Conferences
Consider trade shows and conferences another valuable method to connect with corporate clients. Yes, they attend these events as customers. Yet they’re also setting up booths and running workshops. Introduce yourself so you’re on their radar for future projects. The Amex survey reported 42% of respondents found the most value in networking at trade shows.
Today’s business landscape looks very different than it did ten years ago – even five years ago. Small businesses compete with larger companies to serve the biggest businesses of all. Don’t let the size of your business hold you back. Do your research and make a plan. Use online and offline marketing activities to get your business brand in front of the big players and watch your business grow.