The internet is full of great information about B2B marketing channels, tactics, and even philosophies. That’s all useful stuff, but how do you tie it together into a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy lays the groundwork for specific campaigns, organizing them into a concerted drive toward measurable goals. And while constant changes in the media landscape tempt us all to build outreach efforts in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion — one new channel, one new spend at a time — lack of strategy can waste scarce marketing dollars on campaigns that don’t provide returns.
Whether your B2B marketing strategies need a refresh for 2020 or you’re just getting a startup off the ground, here’s a step-by-step guide to building a marketing strategy that’s both effective and efficient.
1. Create marketing goals that align with the company’s broader goals
Like any good plan, a successful B2B marketing strategy starts with establishing clear goals. The more precise you can make these goals, the better — but don’t invent them out of whole cloth. The best marketing goals come naturally from an organized annual growth plan for the broader business.
“What does the company want to accomplish over the next 12 months?” says Tracy Staniland, director of marketing at Chisel AI. “Is it new customer acquisition? Is it growth within existing customer accounts? Is customer retention an issue? Is brand building or brand loyalty?”
Note that these company goals are not always simply sales goals, Staniland says. “The company may be focused on building an employer brand and recruiting 100 people in the next six months, and need marketing to support and help develop recruiting strategies.”
Sales goals are probably central to your marketing work, but don’t assume they’re the only area where marketers can make an impact.
2. Do preliminary market research
Market research isn’t a one-time event. Continually checking in with customers and prospective customers can help keep you on target at every stage of growth. But when you’re building a new marketing strategy, you have to start at the beginning: creating buyer personas.
Buyer personas consist of clusters of data that represent your ideal leads. In the B2B space, this data can include the industry and type of company your persona represents — a job title, a sample employment background, demographics, or any other information you can glean from analyzing existing customer data or conducting surveys.
As you move forward with your strategy, return to your buyer personas often. They describe your target audience.
3. Establish a budget
It’s never too soon in the strategy-building process to think about the budget. Marketing budgets define the limits of what’s possible, and because many campaigns require a minimum investment to get off the ground, it’s important to be very clear about what you can afford before you start making specific plans. This clarity is especially crucial for newer companies, says Staniland.
“If you’re a startup, budget constraints may play a part in what marketing channels are available to get your message out to target buyers,” she says. “The type of marketing programs and strategies may be limited [by budget], requiring more creativity.”
4. Identify the channels that best reach your audience
Media channels continue to proliferate. It’s unwise to spend a little bit everywhere — a Facebook ad here, a promoted tweet there — when you could instead invest heavily in places where your audience will be most receptive.
“Knowing your target audience and where they go to get information about new products and services is key to defining and executing the right strategies,” Staniland says. “For example, your target audience might be active on LinkedIn and Twitter but not on Facebook, so you wouldn’t want to put any marketing dollars into Facebook ads.”
5. Develop customer-focused messaging
With goals, buyer personas, a budget, and high-value channels established, it’s time to bring in the creatives. Marketing copy — whether it’s for social, search, email, or even print — should focus on at least two things: your company’s value propositions and information that your audience needs.
“Now that you know your audience, developing messaging and positioning that includes the business benefits and resonates with your target audience is key,” Staniland says. To develop that resonant messaging, it can help to think of your audience’s pain points as questions — and then provide the answers.
Voice is also a component, and it likely depends on your industry. Engineers are less likely to respond to breezy, conversational copy, for instance, and more likely to engage with content that focuses on the facts.
By following the steps listed above, you can devise a successful B2B marketing strategy that will help your company grow. Now all you have to do is develop the campaigns to execute that strategy, but that’s another post.