Getting to Know The 4 Functions of Strategic B2B Marketing
When people think about marketing in B2B companies, many assume it’s all about the color of the logo or the design of the new trade show golf shirts. Those elements are part of marketing, but they are far from the most important part.
Over the next few months, I’ll be devoting a blog to each of the 8 lessons for Successful Strategic Marketing featured in my book, Walking On The Moon. Lesson #2 discusses the four critical strategic marketing functions and why it’s about so much more than choosing the colour scheme for your website. (If you missed Lesson #1, you can find it here.)
There are essentially 4 functions of strategic marketing in B2B companies:
- Defining where and how the company will compete
This entails the research and decisions that define the company's focus on markets and its position in those markets. Defining your focus and positioning is essentially defining your competitive advantage. A well-articulated competitive advantage does a lot of heavy lifting in marketing. It tells prospects what makes your company different from other solutions and helps them identify why they should do business with you. In our increasingly noisy world, it’s vital that your marketing provide your prospects with a clear, specific and compelling reason to talk with you rather than the competition.
- Generating awareness and leads
Building awareness among customers is one part of the job. But, more importantly, strategic marketing is all about generating leads and, through ongoing involvement in sales support, revenue. A great B2B marketer understands the company’s financial flow and makes investment decisions based on which types of channels and techniques best fulfill the business objectives, driving home ROI.
- Supporting the sales process
Marketing’s role is taking on more and more importance in supporting the sales process. Why? Today’s B2B buyers are educating themselves about products long before sales reps even know they’re looking. At least 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done online, without any influence from your sales team.1 The act of selling today is more about educating buyers through your marketing efforts than it is about hard selling.
- Creating loyal customers
Loyalty building activities ensure that existing customers continue to buy from you. Gaining the trust and loyalty of your customers can be difficult to achieve. Follow these simple rules when preparing your marketing strategy and you will be rewarded with trust in your brand and strong customer loyalty:
Deliver on your brand promise
Make sure you know what your brand is promising to your customers and always deliver on that promise. It’s that simple. By not delivering on your brand promise you will likely tarnish your company’s credibility. For example, if your company’s promise is personalized customer service and most customer calls go to voicemail, then you have destroyed that promise and customers will no longer trust you.
Be authentic and real
No one will believe in a company that changes their value proposition every three months. People take comfort in consistency and certainty in brands they choose. It takes restraint to avoid jumping onto the latest fad. What you’re really after is the long-term payoff of brand recognition.
Put the focus on customer needs
Focus less on what you want and more on what the customer is looking for. Too many businesses focus on what they think the customer needs to know, instead of listening for what the customer wants to hear. Take the time to invest in researching what your customers need from your brand, and explain how you meet those needs in your marketing.
Share a voice they trust – your customer’s
People love to share experiences. You can be sure that a satisfied customer will talk about your company. This is ultimately the most effective marketing tool. Tactics you can use to share positive customer feedback include testimonials, case studies, referral programs, blogs, and the list goes on!
Companies that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t.2 And companies that put effective marketing in place (defining brand positioning, generating leads, supporting sales, retaining customers) are seeing the best growth results. But these four functions are just the starting point. You need to crunch the numbers. HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella once said, “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” Marketers should run numbers for marketing campaigns, prepare ROI estimates for marketing projects, and share them with colleagues. To dispel the “arts and crafts” view of marketing, it’s important to show how strategic marketing delivers solid financial results.
Read Walking on the Moon to follow a B2B company on their journey to developing strategic marketing that uncovers new ways of generating revenues. Find out more.