Coffee, Tea, or Link Love?

Developing links for a business-to-business (B2B) site can be a challenge. As I pointed out in my case study for luxury hotels, ideas can stem from solving a customer problem. Here’s an example for the restaurant and coffee equipment industry.

One of the challenges of managing a coffee shop is the time needed to train new staff on the proper techniques of using an espresso machine. There’s both a science and art to pulling shots and frothing milk. The time it takes to train is costly and produces a good deal of waste product. While there are totally automatic machines, semi-automatic is still dominant among coffee professionals, especially those focused on quality and customer experience.

Link Building Opportunity

Create detailed professional training videos on using espresso machines and drink preparation to offer for free on your Web site. These should be step-by-step instructions with numerous examples.

There are training videos coffee shop owners can buy for around $100. Being in the restaurant equipment business, you may even sell those same videos.

Solving a customer problem helps us discover link building opportunities and ways to increase sales. Offering free ongoing training on equipment goes a long way to building positive customer relations. It also sets you apart from the competition. To foster the sales process, make some videos available only to customers.

These training videos will bring in new traffic from people in the coffee industry, providing valuable branding and exposure. When existing shop owners are ready to expand, your restaurant supply business will be first in their mind for equipment.

Videos: Building Blocks of Link Building

Make the initial investment to produce high-quality training videos. Remember these videos represent your company image. They’re a valuable marketing tool.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Buy other training videos on the market from the coffee and foodservice industry to find out what training approaches work well. This will save a lot of time when dealing with the production company. Show them specific examples of what you want.

Getting the Links

Promote the free training videos within the online coffee community. You want to find influential sites to spread the word about these videos. Keep an open and creative mind in the approach.

How do you find these sites? Start with simple searches in Google or Yahoo for “coffee news,” “coffee organizations,” “coffee forums,” “coffee groups,” “coffee reviews,” and “coffee blogs.”

Directories are also a great place to locate sites to target such as DMOZ, Best of the Web, or Yahoo Directory.

Get creative when engaging these sites and their communities. The methods are endless — from sponsoring events, to forums, to asking for feedback. While there will be opportunities to get links directly from these sites, focus on promotions and building awareness.

Forums are a good example. While some might be tempted to drop links to the new training videos, this could get your company labeled a spammer. A better approach with forums is to answer people’s questions and contribute to discussions. Then place the links to your training videos in your signature.

Offering solid advice will make people notice you and your signature links. Once your reputation in the forum has been established other members will start dropping your training video link in forums and blog posts.

Links Without Value? Nofollow Issue

I already know someone’s saying, “But most forum links have nofollows on them.” Yes they do. Remember, we’re trying to promote and build awareness.

Those nofollow links might provide the exposure needed to get your videos mentioned (and linked to) by industry authorities such as National Coffee Association, Specialty Coffee Association of America,, or Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. The additional exposure from authority sites will lead to even more sites linking to your training videos.

Good link building is just good marketing.

Profitable Results

The end results are quality links, great PR (public relations, not PageRank) and a great selling tool. All this exposure will help establish your company as an industry leader in the espresso equipment industry.

Join us for SES London February 19-21 and for training classes on February 22.

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