A freelancer’s guide to B2B relationship marketing
Business-to-business (B2B) refers to the process of selling products or services to other businesses, while business-to-consumer (B2C) refers to the process of selling products or services to individual consumers. Once you know who you’re selling to and get to know your audience better, you’ll find it much easier to adopt the most valuable marketing methods for your business.
Befriend the B2B company format
Because the moment you go freelance as a translator or interpreter is the moment you become a business and the moment you need to start acting professionally and taking responsibility for your business. Apart from occasionally selling to individuals (by translating birth, marriage certificates, citizenship documents etc.), you would most likely be dealing with B2B – other businesses. To attract larger agencies and businesses, it is beneficial to position yourself as a professional potential partner to install trust and win their confidence in you.
Unlike B2C marketing which focuses more on emotionally-driven purchases and quick solutions, B2B audiences are driven by logic and seek efficiency. Return on investment (ROI) matters A LOT for B2B clients. However, not to forget – and this is a great quote I read recently – you have to remember that business people don’t leave their emotions at home when they come to work in those big businesses. So, it’s important to strike a balance.
On top of all that, B2B marketing prioritises long-term relationships which can result in longer cycles, repeated custom and the need for more services – a repeated purchase.
B2B relationship marketing
You probably wouldn’t discuss your life story, hobbies, or where you spent your childhood with another business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop strong and lasting relationships with B2B audiences. In fact, it is here that you can really develop ongoing relationships more than in B2C because it prizes long-term value – and they will be the ones with ongoing work and assignments available. In other words, if you provide regular, high quality work to a business and solve their problems, they will want to work with you repeatedly and maintain a business relationship with you.
That’s why it’s important to hone your relationship marketing skills.
How to make yourself more business-like without losing the “personal” touch
- Make a good first impression. Be polite, friendly and professional. Don’t get too personal. Remember, this is still a business relationship. Be approachable by all means, but remain authoritative.
- Get to know your customers. Familiarise yourself with their language and way of writing – each business will be different – and try to mimic that when conversing with them to increase rapport and liking. People are drawn to people who use similar language.
- Research industry details. Find out what industry standards are for response times, communication, payment terms etc. so you can adopt them yourself and ensure you are acting in the most standard and professional way.
- Keep your professional profile and photos clean. It’s the first thing most companies do before working with you: they Google you. Make sure they’re not going to find any unpleasant surprises on there. Your online presence should be impeccable and project credibility.
- Foster all aspects of your business. Always certify you’re sending out professional looking, proofread emails, that all relevant details are on your invoices, that everything you send to the client looks and feels professional, that you’re replying swiftly and sharply. Keep your standards high in order to breed trust and loyalty in clients.
- Keep them happy. It is much easier and less costly to keep a current client happy than to find new clients. You can do that by supplying consistent quality work and through friendly exchanges over the phone, via email or even in person.
- Prioritise customer experience. One of the best ways to provide a memorable customer experience is to analyse what you don’t like about customer experiences you’ve encountered before and then customise your customer experience to be what you want it to be and how you want to be served. It could be little details like offering them free help or advice. It could also include making the client feel heard and providing them with a service to meet their needs.
- Anticipate their needs. If you’re lucky to already work with a client that you like, offer them your advice, solve their problems, or perhaps offer new services that would save them even more time and bring more profit. Be helpful and act as part of their team and they will truly appreciate having an asset like you with them, which in turn will bring you more business.
What tips do you have?
Ever since I first started Websites for Translators, the motto has always been the same: freelance = being a business.
There are a lot of freelancers out there who follow this motto already but for those of you who aren’t yet – I strongly recommend it! The thing is, you don’t need a fancy office, a receptionist and a huge desk with a name plaque to call yourself a business. Even if you work from home at your kitchen table or occasionally work from your couch, if you’re a freelance translator or interpreter you can still call yourself a business and you should if you want to get the most out of your work.
The beauty of freelance is that you can build your image online and outside of your office, and while your surroundings are important, your clients shouldn’t feel the difference whether you’re working from a beach in Bali, a kitchen table at your Grandma’s birthday party or your own home office.
Project a professional image at all times!
If you are already using the B2B marketing plan, I’d love to know how it’s going for you and what tips you have for maintaining a personal, yet business-like relationship with clients. Is there something you can add to my list?