Go-To-Market Strategies for Your Small Business B2B App

In previous articles, we’ve discussed go-to-market strategies for selling your app to consumers, but as you consider the B2B market, how would your go-to-market plan need to differ? Since B2B means Business to Business, the key difference is that you’re selling your app directly to a business, or a person representing a business, rather than selling it to a person who only represents themselves. That’s going to change the way your customer makes decisions, and how you reach them. In this article, we’ll look specifically at go-to-market strategies for B2B apps.

 

Imagine that you’ve created an app to help dentists with scheduling reminders. It automatically generates reminder emails and texts, enables quick patient confirmation, and even allows the office to include additional promotional materials as needed. You can’t just post your app somewhere and hope they’ll find it and download it, and you can’t just market it like you would a game or a utility app—you’ll need to reach out to dental practices, in the places where they’re most likely to listen, and demonstrate that your product can help them to run their business better.

Know Your Customer—Their Responsibilities and Their Journey

In this example, your product is very specific to dental offices, so your primary target will likely be the dentist or an office manager working closely with the dentist. The general principles involved in knowing your customer—defining your audience, picking your channels, and customer acquisition—are mostly the same as they would be with a consumer app, but your B2B customer is more complicated because they have to represent their company, and the company’s interests, beyond their own. They also have a different journey than an individual consumer would have—with more external considerations and more focus on hard numbers. With a consumer app, you may just need to pique someone’s interest in a fun-sounding game, but with a B2B app, you have to understand how the app improves their bottom line or fits into their business plan.

Here are some questions to answer about your target customer:

  • Know the industry - 
     
    • Are there particular times of the year that will affect their interest or ability to implement new software?
       
    • Are there industry-specific processes that you should know in order to address their needs?
       
    • Are there conferences or regular industry events that would be a good place to introduce your product?
       
    • How do they usually make decisions about this aspect of the business (for example, patient communication or scheduling)?
       
    • Are there any relevant service providers that might be interested in distributing your app?
  • Know the benefits - 
     
    • What pain points does this business have?
       
    • How can your app address those pain points?
       
    • How will your app help them increase sales/reduce cost/improve retention?

ROI Is King

One key thing to remember is that business consumers are extremely interested in the return on investment, or ROI. Your app needs to solve a pain point in order to be worth their time and money, and you’ll need to be able to communicate that clearly to the business. For example, the appointment reminder app could cut down on potentially lost revenue due to missed appointments, while also freeing up the office manager to work on other aspects of the business.

Relationships are Key

B2B apps tend to use a subscription model in which customers pay a monthly or annual fee to use your app within their business. This is great for your bottom line—but because the cost is higher, and because integrating your tool will likely result in procedural changes within the business, the sales effort is also likely to be longer. All this is to say, relationships are a really important part of marketing and selling B2B apps. Business customers expect there to be ongoing support and communication, and you simply have to be able to talk to people and maintain long-term relationships for this business model to work. If the dental office signs up for a one-year contract, you might plan on quarterly updates, and be available to hear feedback and provide support.

Where Can You Find Them?

Finding the audience for a B2B app will really depend on the particular market or business you’re trying to serve, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Industry events/continuing education. It’s a good idea to be wherever members of your target audience will be, like the annual ADA convention, and it’s even better if you can find events that are directly tied to the pain points your product addresses, like office systems management courses geared toward dental offices. Consider a table at a conference, a banner ad on an online course, presenting at a conference, or buying ad space in a catalog.
     
  • Technology service providers/resellers. Some small businesses would prefer to hire a technology service provider to make sure all of their systems are working and up to date—and your app might be something they can include in their offering. A service provider who works with multiple dental offices would be able to sell and distribute your app to multiple customers at once.
     
  • PR. Pitch your business story to industry publications. If you’re able to get a write-up in a leading dental industry magazine, you’ll build name recognition and interest.
     
  • Videos and content. Create materials they can view on their own, and then contact you if they’re interested. Remember, they’re running a business and they're busy, so you want to make it as easy for them to learn about your product as possible.
     
  • Meetups and seminars for industry/new business owners. Beyond big industry events, look for local meet-ups and seminars for new business owners. Your local BBB or Chamber of Commerce can also be a great resource.

The Importance of Word of Mouth

We’ve already discussed the importance of relationships, but with B2B it’s also important to remember another kind of relationship—the one your clients have with one another. Word of mouth is essential, and it’s very likely that people within your targeted industry rely and trust each other to provide recommendations—and warnings—about products and apps on the market. You might want to give away samples or trials in order to get your app out there and earn good reviews. Start with a few dentists who might want to be early adopters, and offer them incentives for trying your product, and for spreading the word. You might even want to offer a specific referral program, where they can get a month free, or a discounted premium service. Reassurance from peers is important in every industry, and once people start talking about your app, it’s no longer unknown—and business owners will be more likely to try it.

Businesses are always looking to improve their efficiency and performance, so when you're marketing to a business—particularly a small business—make sure you keep those end goals in mind. How can your app solve their pain points? What will the benefits be? The increased vetting and focus on ROI might seem like a lot at first, when you're used to working on consumer apps, but building long-term relationships with targeted customers and developing high-value apps that really meet their needs can be a very satisfying path to success. 

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