Have you heard the expression, ‘Cheap, fast and good; choose two”? It’s a saying that people use to explain what they can get in the real world. As consumers, we’d like everything we buy to be cheap, fast, AND good. But it’s rare to get all three. You usually have to prioritize two – you can get something good and fast, but it won’t be cheap. You can find things that are cheap and fast, but they won’t be good. Or, you can get something good and cheap, but it won’t be fast.
When it comes to strategic B2B marketing, there’s a similar set of laws.
There are a few more options than just cheap, fast, and good when it comes to strategic priorities for B2B marketing, so the situation is more complicated. But the notion of having to prioritize your goals and choose the ones that are most important, because you can’t have it all in strategic B2B marketing, definitely applies.
If you’re the CEO, owner, GM or revenue leader of a B2B company, you likely have many objectives for your marketing. From raising market awareness, to generating leads, to improving conversions to reducing the cost of new client acquisition, there are likely many things you want to accomplish. And while you want all of them, I can tell you as someone who’s been doing marketing for B2B companies for over fifteen years, you can’t get it all (unless you have a massive budget).
Since that’s the reality, the best course of action is to identify the possible objectives for your marketing, and choose the two that are most important for your company in its given situation. What’s your biggest opportunity for marketing? Identify that, and make it your priority. In B2B marketing it’s usually best to have a couple of objectives and work on them simultaneously, because marketing is a chain of inter-related activities that lead to revenue growth.
Not sure what your priorities should be? Here’s a list of options. This isn’t exhaustive, but covers the main priorities I’ve seen from small and mid-sized B2B companies over the last several years:
1. Brand Awareness
Is your company known in its market place? Do the individuals you’re most likely to sell to know that you exist? If they don’t, focusing on raising awareness of your company in the market will be a wise priority.
2. Brand Perception
How is your company’s brand perceived by customers and prospects? Is the company’s reputation strong, or is it tarnished? Are you thought of as a good and credible supplier, or not? If there are issues with the perception of your brand, rehabilitating your brand may be the highest priority.
3. Lead Generation
Do you have a team of strong sales people who are great at converting leads into customers, but there just aren’t enough (or any) prospects for them to talk to? Then lead generation is critical.
4. Conversion Improvement
Do you have a lot of leads coming in, but they aren’t converting into customers? If so, conversion improvement might be one of your top priorities. What do you need to do to improve the conversion of contacts into opportunities and opportunities into customers?
5. Competitive Advantage
Does your business have a strong message about what sets it apart from the competition and why customers should buy from you? If not, this might be your main priority. B2B companies who have a strong value proposition and differentiated position achieve far higher returns from marketing. Read tips for defining your company’s competitive advantage.
Do you know what results your marketing is generating? How many leads do you generate in a month, how many are qualified? What’s your conversion rate? There are countless options for measuring your marketing performance, and you certainly don’t need to track them all. But having a few relevant metrics in place and consistently measuring them is an important part of a finely-tuned marketing machine.
7. Marketing ROIOnce you have a measurement system in place, you can evaluate how your marketing campaigns and initiatives are performing. What ROI did you generate on your latest Google AdWords campaign? What returns do you get on speaking at industry conferences? Over time, you can improve your marketing ROI by allocating your budget to the best performing programs.
When you read this list, there are probably a few objectives that you know are not immediate priorities for your company. And there are probably several that you feel are important. If you have to pick just two, which are the two that are most important? By focusing on these, and building your marketing plan based on them, you’ll create a strategic B2B marketing function that outperforms your competitors.
Want more tips on getting great B2B marketing? Download PROFITGuide’s Special Report on The Radical Sales Shift, with proven lessons from B2B marketing leaders: