One of the most common questions that company owners ask me is: "if our company is new to marketing, where should we start?"
It’s a smart question. I’ve worked with small and mid-sized B2B companies for over a decade, and now work in a marketing company that serves several dozen mid-market B2B firms, so I want to share my experiences on where companies should start.
There are so many options in marketing – website, tradeshows, content, social media, webinars, branding, direct mail, partnerships. And on and on. Many business-to-business companies (B2B, like manufacturers) are new to marketing so it can be overwhelming. I’ve seen many companies either stall entirely due to the sheer number of options, or else choose any random thing and just get going. (That’s often true if they’re doing the marketing themselves, but sadly it can also happen when they hire a marketing company, if priorities haven’t been confirmed).
Instead of blindly picking one or two tactics and hoping for the best, the single best first step for any company that is new to marketing is to develop a plan. A marketing plan doesn’t need to be complicated – it fact it shouldn’t be. It should confirm the company’s marketing strategy in simple terms:
- what the company offers
- why customers should buy from them
- who the target market is
When it comes to target markets, one of the mistakes I see companies make is to start marketing by pursuing new customers and promoting new services to them. That’s usually not the best way to generate fast results. The faster way to get results and ROI from marketing is to market to the existing customer base rather than new customers. Upselling and cross-selling is more likely to generate fast results.
Once the strategy is confirmed, the next part of a good marketing plan is the tactical roadmap. This is the part that outlines when particular activities, like a new website, sales collateral, content and webinars, will be done. Building good marketing is like building a house - without a solid base, anything you do on top will just fall down. While you may want to proceed quickly to campaigns, if you don’t have a foundation in place, your marketing will be largely ineffective. A good marketing company or marketing manager will help you prioritize initiatives so that your investments produce long-term results.
Here are 4 of the best things to start with in your marketing roadmap:
- If you don’t have a website that represents you well, this should be your first priority. It doesn’t make sense to do a bunch of activities that draw people to a sub-par website. It will just scare potential customers away.
- Sales collateral is important, too. You need decent sales support material to help your sales team go out into the market with confidence.
- Email marketing delivers excellent ROI. While the new CASL legislation has affected who you can email, if you have a large customer base or have educational content to deliver to your target market, consider doing email marketing – it still is one of the highest ROI marketing tactics.
- There’s a lot of buzz around social media, but don’t jump into social if you haven’t built a solid foundation. While many people call social media “free,” it really isn’t. It takes time and intelligence to do it well.
These four areas are often the best places to start if you’re new to marketing. Just remember not to be overwhelmed by your options: it’s better to do a little bit really well than to try everything and have it all fall apart.