December 18, 2020
The pandemic has upended every aspect of the way business is conducted. This has underlined the importance of digital marketing as an essential tool to help businesses survive, according to Michael Mayer, founder of Main Event Digital.
Mayer recently guested on the Harvest Growth podcast, which features “inspirational stories from successful inventors and entrepreneurs…targeted at helping aspiring inventors and market-leading entrepreneurs alike,” according to its website.
Launched in 2020, Main Event Digital is a full-service digital marketing agency that focuses on underserved manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. Since the pandemic, Main Event Digital has helped fill a need for these companies that have needed to outsource their marketing departments due to staff cutbacks.
Mayer discussed with Harvest Growth founder and podcast host Jon LaClare the need to improve B2B marketing efforts at a time when traditional platforms such as trade shows have been shut down. It is short-sighted, he observed, for companies to rely just on a company website, no matter how highly-functioning it is. “The key strategy is to get them into the marketplaces, such as Amazon and Wal-Mart,” he said.
But in addition to cutting-edge strategies, Mayer said that his company has not abandoned old-fashioned marketing approaches such as telemarketing and direct mail. “Some of the old methods that people have gotten away from can now be the most effective because there is so much noise on social media, in your inbox and on Google where people are competing for SEO position,” he said.
One secret he shared with LaClare is that companies cannot just create a website and hope people will use it. One mistake that companies make, he said, is that they rely on manufacturers’ content to move products. “One of our most effective tools,” he said, “is custom-written, unique content that engages users.”
Companies need to get behind their websites, he added. “Once you have a website and are selling online, it is imperative to get your internal sales team behind what you’re doing. This can be accomplished through rewards when they drive people to the site. In addition to that, many companies don’t spend time on educating their customers on how to use all the digital services they offer, such as mobile apps.”
Podcast Transcript Below:
The Harvest Growth Podcast
B2B Marketing: Selling to Businesses with Smart Digital Marketing Strategies
Host: Jon LaClare
Guest: Mike Mayer
Date: February 3, 2021
Jon: In today's podcast. I speak with an expert in B2B marketing. He's been doing this for over two decades and share some great advice for anyone that has a need to improve or increase their Business to Business marketing efforts.
Welcome to another episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast. Focused on helping consumer product companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs harvest the growth potential of their product businesses by teaching cutting-edge marketing strategies. And interviewing successful marketers, as well as product marketing experts that share their stories to inspire you, to achieve hypergrowth for your own business.
I'm your host, Jon LaClare, founder, and CEO of Harvest Growth. And I believe that if you want to make your product, the next household name, you just need to follow the right plan and that even the best products struggle to succeed when they step away from proven strategies that work.
If you'd like to learn more about what we call the perfect launch process for marketing products, check out HarvestGrowth.com. And if you still have questions on how you can implement this process for your business, you'll see a link on our homepage to set up a free consultation with one of our product launch specialists.
Today, I'm excited to have on the interview today with me, Mike Mayer. Now he's the founder of Main Event Digital, which is a B2B marketing firm. It's very different than a lot of our guests we've had in the past that are Business to Consumer experts. Mike does some of that, but he also is a true expert in the Business to Business marketing space.
So, it's great, especially if you're a product marketer to pay attention to this, because even though you might think you're in just the Business to Consumer marketing world. Getting this understanding of how to market to businesses, i.e., retailers, wholesalers, potential licensees, etc., but to other businesses is so important. Mike, welcome to the show.
Mike: Thanks Jon. Happy to be here.
Jon: So, tell us about your background and let's start with your company. What do you do currently with Main Event Digital?
Mike: Well, we are a full-service digital marketing agency. We're also a unique blend because we're also a system integrator. So, we are building websites specifically, e-commerce. We're integrating those with ERP's. We're doing designs, logo design, graphic design, web design.
Then we go into the digital marketing services and those range from paid search. We're managing marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart and eBay. We do affiliate marketing, loyalty programs, search engine optimization, where I'm putting people on Google Shopping and Bing Shopping. Really, whatever a company needs from a marketing perspective, we have the resources to get it done.
We have folks that go out and do telemarketing. We just did a major press release launch for one of our new clients, the Sani-Spire, which I can talk about a little bit later. We go direct to wholesale to get our products on the shelves with wholesalers and retailers. You name it, we've probably done it.
Jon: And it's so different. As I mentioned from a lot of the world ideal which is the Business to Consumer space. You and I were talking a little bit before this interview and you say it's even different out there in the marketing world in general, where there really isn't a direct competitor.
There isn't anybody that focuses at least in the same way that you do in this Business-to-Business world, such a demand for it. There's a need for it, but not a lot of experience maybe. Talk to us about how'd you get into Business to Business marketing? What's your backup?
Mike: Okay. I started 23 years ago as a web developer and have been working for B2B companies, ever since. Have about two or three years in and started managing projects, managing people and specifically managing e-commerce and digital marketing, as it became more of a thing.
Over the last 13 years, I've specifically worked for billion dollar plus wholesalers and started and ran their e-commerce. Started their digital marketing, have been purely focused on e-commerce and digital marketing for most of my career. At the end of last year, found myself with an opportunity to expand my horizons. And instead of doing what I do for a single company, I attempted to do this for many companies.
So, I started this small business Main Event Digital and started with Leviton as my first customer. They are a large wiring device company, and then brought on Alpine Home Air as another customer. They're a large HVAC wholesaler and retailer. And from there it grew and just kept bringing on more wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers and helping them with anything and everything e-commerce and digital marketing.
So, I have yet to do any advertising for the business. I have a website out there and just through word of mouth, the company has been growing like a weed and people need our services. There's no one else out there that I'm aware of that offers the services that I offer focused on wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers.
So, I think I found a very unique niche and have got this company really ramped up during a difficult time in our lifespan, dealing with COVID. But people more than ever need digital to help their businesses survive. And I think we're here to help. We're not trying to profit off of this terrible pandemic, but rather help businesses to survive. And that's what we've been doing.
Jon: Yes. And I think that's a great way to say that, we've seen that as well, a little bit where in the digital marketing space, it's a very good time to be a marketing agency. People are at home or people are paying attention to digital and a lot of these traditional channels. Especially in the B2B world, shows, trade shows, etc. just don't exist this year. So, you'd need to get out there in front of your audience.
I like to think of it as it's a service. It's not like taking advantage of a situation, but it's really helping these companies get through a tough situation and give them a path where they otherwise might not have one. And they've got to be able to pivot their businesses, to be able to adjust to this new economy that, hopefully will get back to what we call normal somewhat soon, but it's always going to be different.
The world has changed for sure. It's getting a directional shift. Which is in the direction of digital marketing, I think. And getting these companies to take advantage of that and understand it well and do well in the very beginning, it would make a big difference for them.
Mike: I would agree.
Jon: So, what are the platforms, if you're thinking of wholesalers or distributors, talk to us about what is the approach? Of course, it's going to be a little bit different for every client, but what do you see in general? What are the trends that are working well in the B2B space?
Mike: Everyone wants a highly functioning website and have a presence where they can, extract the most margin as possible. And I think that's a great strategy and you absolutely need that as a foundation. Most of my customers stop at that level right there and they never go out and sell anywhere else. So, I think one of the key strategies that I've implemented to help my customers scale is to get them into the marketplaces.
And often, when I start with my customers, we put the website aside. If it's functional and it has good unique content and it's working, let's get them into other channels and to add incremental revenue. So, we've been very successful bringing customers into the Amazon marketplace and the Walmart marketplace.
And not just putting their products up there, but setting up an automated repricer so that we're watching their competitors, and automating their price based on their competitor's price. While keeping in mind what their margin floor needs to stay at.
We've also implemented some more of the old fashion marketing approaches with telemarketing. And we have folks that are just, dialing for dollars and directing customers, typically their businesses to our websites. Where they can then, get all the product information and transact online or take that order right over the phone. We're doing direct mail.
I know some of these old methods that people have gone away from are the best methods now, because there's so much noise in your email inbox and in your social. And when you're running a search on Google, there's still a lot of noise with, the paid ads and everyone competing for SEO position.
So, some of these older methods are working and the secret is not just focusing on one of these channels, but to employ all of these channels or many of the channels to try to drive incremental and drip into your customers' brains, as any chance you can.
Jon: And for most of your clients who is the end target, or who they're trying to reach out to? It sounds like e-commerce in general, it may be consumers at some point, but it also, maybe distributors, other agencies or other companies rather. So, who are the target market typically?
Mike: Most of the companies that I've been working for, we are selling to tradesmen or selling to purchasing agents or selling to the owners of small businesses. And then we're also selling direct to consumer. There's no reason why as a manufacturer or as a wholesaler, you wouldn't want to go direct to the consumer. And when I say that there's definitely a caveat to that where you don't want to be competing with others in the supply chain.
So, abiding and structuring as a manufacturer, a map price, and keeping to that map price, as the manufacturer and holding your suppliers. So that same map is going to be key so that you're not competing and you can also go direct to consumer and have an equal playing field with the manufacturer.
Now, if you're a wholesaler, then you would ideally want your manufacturer doing that too, setting a map so that you're not as a wholesaler competing with others, in a race to the bottom. And then, no one's making any money.
Jon: Very true. How do you see it different in terms of targeting? Obviously, we're in the space of direct to consumer or certainly Business to Consumer realm. And so, I understand that world target. We talk about that a lot in our podcast, but how do you reach these people? So, if you've got kind of a more niche or more targeted audience, what are the best platforms that you see to be able to find those people?
Mike: Paid search is definitely a channel that we use to be pretty targeted. Google and Bing ads, including Google and Bing shopping, with the social channels, we can be very hyper-focused. Geographical area in addition to hitting a certain persona, with LinkedIn we can really hone in on job titles and company size. And with something like Facebook, we can hone in on folks that live or work in a certain area.
So, it's all about being as targeted as you can with your marketing. Retargeting folks, once they've landed on one of your properties through ads and through marketing automation, email. And with using customer management software, customer contacts software. Pulling lists of your target customers and calling them.
You can't send them emails out of the blue or violate CAN-SPAM, but you can definitely give them a call or send them a personal one-to-one email. On the marketplaces, it's a little bit tougher to target, typically you're not paying to be out there, showing your ads. Showing your ads, you'll pay for it, but showing your product, offering to everyone, you're not really paying for the views. I know I'm probably missing some, but I think that's a start.
Jon: Absolutely. I imagine over the time you've had this business; you've been able to help quite a few companies to really grow. And as you said before, it's an open opportunity because in this space, in a Business to Business in general, so often people rely just on word of mouth or just on their website or trade shows, etc.
This might be a new way of thinking. It's funny, we're in the marketing agency world. So, I talked with a lot of other marketing agency owners who were part of this big mastermind, I think it's a hundred or so marketing agency owners. And, most of them will say, we do it through referrals, through word of mouth. Even though there are out there every day, doing digital marketing for all of their clients, they almost don't do it for themselves. And are hesitant or don't believe in it.
I think getting over that hurdle, once you can turn that corner and realize, hey, marketing can help businesses that sell to businesses as well. Again, for our world as agencies for you it could be almost anything else. In this wholesaler distributor space. Do you have any stories, of how you've been able to help some of these companies turn that corner and realize that once you get beyond just a website and you start to really build a robust marketing campaign, how that's helped their business?
Mike: I have endless stories that I can talk about. I won't be able to go into any specifics, but most of my clients, especially in the wholesale space, when they put up products on their websites, typically they're just pulling in manufacturers content.
And that really doesn't do you much good when it comes to organic Google. So, I'd say one of my most effective strategies to really move the needle for wholesalers is to get them custom written unique content.
And that is another one of my service offerings where we either can pull in manufacturer content, untouched and that's fairly inexpensive. It gets slightly more expensive when we're rewriting the content to make it completely unique. And then we often find ourselves higher in organic than Amazon and the manufacturer themselves. So, I think that's one really powerful strategy.
Marketing automation has been a big winner for us where a customer enters into our sales funnel in some way, and nurturing them with emails, move them through the sales funnel has been very effective. We create videos and embed those into emails that educate folks on the company, the value-added services, in addition to offering promotions in multiple workflows. All to get them to transact or to re-transact if they've gone dormant.
So those are two channels that I think have been very successful. Other than that, we have some press release blast services that is pretty unique where this service creates podcasts. It also creates videos all from a press release. It's like an AI tool and instantaneously can drive your organic ranking. It's unbelievable how quickly, for your product or for your service or for your entire company.
So that's another growth hack I would call it to move folks, up the chain. What else do we do? The affiliate programs that we're setting up. We have a lot of small businesses that want to bring on college kids. And a lot of people are looking for work right now. And it's very easy to stand up an affiliate program, not through one of the affiliate networks, but that's also an option.
And just a private affiliate network where you can have your folks register and go out and get people to either click on their custom URL or to use their promo code. And affiliates will share in some of the revenue for the sales and it helps the company by lower margin sales, but definitely more volume.
I think the other growth hack we've been doing is with repricing. Like I mentioned on the marketplaces, we're also doing that on websites themselves. As long as we know what a customer's cost is and their margin floor, we can automate, a competitive price based on what others are selling at. And that price will automatically flow into the shopping networks and be visible through organic Google. So, I think that's another strategy we've implemented for some clients to move them along quickly.
Jon: Love it, love it. So, Mike, is there anything you feel that I didn't ask that you think could be helpful for our audience to know about whether it's B2B marketing or any other advice you have for these people?
Mike: I think that the secret is you can't just create a website, put it out there and hope for people to come and use it. There's definitely a lot more to it. And I've talked about getting into all of these channels. One of the other key aspects as a wholesaler and a manufacturer, once you have a website and once, you're selling online is to get your internal sales team, behind whatever you're doing.
And that you can do through sharing commissions. And you can do that by even giving some sort of promotion or some sort of kicker when their salespeople drive people to your website. Also educating your customers is something that most people don't really spend a lot of time on. Educating your customers on how to use the tool and all of the services you offer digitally.
So, if you're offering a mobile app, educating them on the mobile app. Putting that advertisement for the mobile app, into your marketing automation. Putting it on your homepage, sending out one-off emails about your mobile app. If you have inventory management software that you're offering getting that out in front of your customers.
If you're offering PO pricing or invoice automation, and that's very common with wholesalers to integrate with their customers. Getting that out in front of your customers and making sure they know about it. So, there's a lot of internal marketing and external just about what you have to offer that a lot of people miss.
Jon: Absolutely. There are literally hundreds of things that can be done to improve a business's marketing efforts. And clearly Mike, you have great experience in all this. And we can't unfortunately answer all questions for every business in a short podcast interview like this.
But I do want to say to the audience that Mike has been kind enough to offer, to speak with anybody who feels they might have further specific questions that might be able to answer some questions about your business.
If you have any B2B marketing efforts, especially whether that's a B2C company that is meeting with retailers or potentially licensees or dealing with businesses in general, or if you truly are a B2B full business, then Mike knows his stuff. As you can tell.
He's offered to spend some time on the phone with you to answer any specific questions about your business. And you can learn more about his company and set up a meeting to speak with him directly. If you go to MainEventDigital.com. MainEventDigital.com, you can find that URL, of course, in the show notes.
The other thing that Mike has kindly offered is if it makes sense for you to work together with Mike, to have him actually take over or help you with your marketing efforts, they have several different programs that they offer, and he has offered a $2,000 discount off your first month if you work together. And so, month to month, you can cancel anytime, which is always a great sign.
I think of a good company that they can prove that they're going to work for you because they know they've got to keep you through results, much like the way we operate as well. So that's a great discount, very generous. But at a minimum, check out his website, he's got some good content there. You can learn more about B2B marketing as well.
Mike, I just want to thank you again for your time. This is really fun. I think it's really interesting to hear your perspective on B2B marketing in general. And, I wish we had hours to spend to really dive deep on more of this stuff. I think this is a good way to at least scratch the surface and get some good advice for those that are either thinking about or realizing that they need to do more B2B marketing. So, thanks again for your time. Mike.
Mike: My pleasure, Jon, thanks for having me on today. I really appreciate it.
Jon: Thank you for your valuable insights and for taking the time to share your story, our audience of inventors, entrepreneurs, and product marketers will benefit greatly from what you've taught us today. For the listeners go to their website to learn more.
Also be sure to check out HarvestGrowthPodcast.com to see other episodes that we have recorded. And if you like this episode and you want to learn more about how you can profitably grow your consumer product business, please subscribe to our show and leave us a review on iTunes or Google play.