- Set Yourself Goals for Your Marketing Efforts
Now, whatever your sector, as a B2B enterprise, you're probably focused on a range of approaches; let's say:
- Content marketing to establish expertise and brand awareness.
- Outreach marketing to connect with prospective new clients.
- Mixed publicity media such as explainer videos and informational guides.
Before you do any of those things, you need to establish the goals you anticipate hitting as a result.
A strategy looks at what you want to achieve and where you are now, so it's like a map to show how you intend to reach your destination. Without that, you're shooting in the dark.
If you haven't defined what success will look like, you'll have no way of knowing whether you're already there or a million miles off.
Research your competitors, deep dive into the market, and try to pin down where you are right now. From there, you can develop realistic, attainable goals with KPIs to ensure you have total visibility over progression.
It may well be that an established marketing technique doesn't align with your targets, so set the goalposts before you kick the ball - you'll be far more likely to score!
- Take a Good Look at Your Marketing Mix
Our next task is to analyse what we're already doing and assess where the gaps are that present an opportunity to improve marketing returns.
You can work through this methodically:
- List all of your communications channels - such as social media, your website and client email campaigns.
- Note who controls each of those - which member of your team is responsible for managing Google Ads? Who deals with your intranet to share announcements within your workforce? How do you compile posts for social media?
- Collate a database of all your content assets, from videos to guides, images to information packs. Where is it stored, in what format, what's been published and what hasn't?
Now you've gained a solid idea about how you're currently conducting your marketing, who is in charge of each channel, and what content assets you've got to hand (also a useful way to work out what's missing!).
Some B2B marketers will categorise channels and content by where it hits the sales funnel, but the basic idea is that you have a structured overview of the status quo and can see what needs to change to hit those targets we've set.
- Develop Buying Centre Personas
Customer personas are a well-established component of any decent marketing strategy.
Still, in B2B, it's not as simple as having a standalone persona because you're selling to a whole business or a multi-person procurement team.
The concept is the same, though, and is sometimes referred to as a buying centre persona if you communicate with more than one person.
It can get tricky because each persona may have slightly different needs depending on their role.
Essentially, you need to know what benefits will be of most interest and, therefore, how to market your product or service.
Most businesses start with a buying persona for the primary decision maker first.
It's fine to amend that or expand to include other contacts as needs be - you can have multiple buying personas but need to leverage this analysis to decide how you showcase your value proposition.
- Work Your Way Through the Customer Journey
If you don't know what your business looks like from the outside as a buyer, it's pretty much impossible to create a successful marketing strategy.
It would help if you pictured your intended customer journey, mapping out progress through each interaction point, and evaluating how effectively you move them onto the next stage by providing additional information to influence their decisions.
Once you've mapped the ideal journey and how you market at each stage, you may see immediately where prospects fall off the funnel or where you don't have the content or right marketing method in place.
Crucially, your strategy should include a mixture of online and print media.
By now, you'll have a database of your content assets and channels so you can verify how you're currently approaching marketing to break down the blend.
Print media is a classic B2B marketing technique, and it does have a place in some sectors - for example, technical brochures remain commonplace in business environments.
However, if you want to maximise your use of all your content types and every available channel, you need to combine all the information you've gathered up to this point to strategise about how, when, and where the communication occurs.
- Split Your Plans Into a Wider Marketing Plan and a Task List
You've done much of the hard work - gathering data, mapping journeys, logging your content assets and creating a list of every channel you have at your fingertips.
All of this effort forms the foundation of your marketing plan, and one of the easiest ways to compile it all into an actionable strategy is to create two documents:
- A comprehensive marketing overview to inform and guide every decision.
- An action plan with defined activities, dates, and assigned responsibility.
The action plan is like an executive summary and a concise extract to provide tangible actions and the dates when they'll happen.
You may need to break down tasks into different teams, staff members, or agencies if you're working with an external marketing team, but the action plan can work any way you need it to!
Our final advice would be to include budgeting in this process.
Every B2B organisation has a finite amount of resources, so an elaborate marketing strategy developed with extreme detail and precision analytics isn't going to be achievable if you don't have the finances to deliver!
What is the Difference Between a Marketing Strategy and Marketing Tactics?
We spoke briefly about techniques earlier, and it's very common to find that your marketing strategy advice (even from experts who should know better!) is a list of tactics, not an actual guide to developing strategic direction.
To keep it simple, a tactic is a tool you use to achieve a plan, and the strategy is your plan to set out how you will achieve success.
For example, if you aim to double your signups in the next year and use your technologically advanced sales team to achieve that by targeted email campaigns, paid search engine ads and social media advertising, that's your strategy.
If you're going to then focus on these tactics, they are:
- Targeted email campaigns
- Paid search engine ads
- Social media advertising
Of course, a great marketing strategy will go further to look at how you'll use each tactic, with what content, when, and to what extent, but you get the idea.
By the time you're at step five, you're merging both strategy and tactics - but the background work is vitally important to ensure your strategy is based on data-driven metrics and a true understanding of your underlying marketing performance.
Why Do You Need a Marketing Strategy to Put Your Tactics to Work?
The devil is in the detail, so you need both clear goals and traceable success metrics to monitor how each tactic performs.
Otherwise, you won't know whether, in our above example, your paid search engine ads are doing what you want them to.
Tracking is the ongoing process of analysing how your marketing strategy is performing and noting whether it's getting you closer to your aims.
If not, you need to deploy different tactics, revisit your content assets, go back through the customer journey, or assess whether your buyer persona is off-kilter.
A strategy is a cohesive way to ensure every team member works towards the same target and helps you see how every asset and every campaign works in synergy to keep that B2B customer moving through your funnel - in the right direction.
Expert Support With Developing a Market Strategy
Defining your market strategy can be just as impactful as implementing the identified actions and measuring the efficacy of your identified approaches.
Your plans may change due to variances in demand, the trading climate, client bases and perhaps new product launches or verticals into different areas, but usually require adjustment rather than writing from scratch.
If you'd like any additional guidance on working through the process to construct a robust marketing strategy or how to adjust a plan if need be, please get in touch with the creative B2B marketing pros at Tiga.
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