Are you getting the most out of your B2B marketing dollars? These five questions will tell you.
Everyone thinks marketing is easy. But it's a business function like any other, and it takes effort to become a seasoned successful marketer. Your own company may or may not have reached that point.
How can you tell whether your firm is doing the best job at marketing it can? And how can you determine whether your marketing will be effective? Here are five pointed questions you should ask your marketing department—or yourself, if you run your firm's marketing—to gauge whether you're on track to achieving marketing results this year:
1. IS OUR MARKETING WORKING WELL NOW?
For many B2B CEOs, this question is easy, and painful, to answer—because they know their marketing isn't working well. They know they are operating without a marketing plan that they are underinvesting in marketing, or are executing inconsistently. We meet many B2Bs in Canada whose CEO, or another member of the executive team, is accountable for marketing as only part of their job—and these are the three common outcomes.
If your answer to this question is "No," it's time to consider how you're approaching your marketing because your success with marketing is unlikely to change from last year’s success.
Regardless of whether your marketing VP's answer to this question is "I don't know," "Yes—well, maybe" or "Everything is going great!", you'll want to get more specific information. You need a scorecard so you can review what your key business goals are and how well marketing is performing relative to these goals.
2. HOW OFTEN ARE WE CHANGING MARKETING TOOLS AND TACTICS?
Buyer behaviour is changing dramatically, largely due to the evolution of technology and the prolific use of the internet for research. If your company is using the exact same marketing tools that it was using 10 years ago, you are probably losing new business to more “relevant” competitors. From messaging and digital marketing to social media, there are many new tactics and channels that influence lead generation—and are expected by buyers.
The flipside of stagnant marketing is changing tactics too quickly and too often. Most often, we see this happen in small companies with a visionary leader—one who is energized by, and constantly introducing, new ideas for marketing. A key to effective marketing is consistency and repetition; without these your efforts will go unnoticed. In fact, your team will get tired of your marketing far sooner than buyers will. It's important to get the same message in front of your buyer several times—at least! This may sound easy, but it is not. A well-executed campaign takes planning, discipline and focus.
3. ARE WE SPENDING THE RIGHT AMOUNT ON MARKETING?
Many companies are unable to answer this question. If you don't know how much you're spending on marketing, you cannot measure ROI—which determines which tactics are worthwhile, and which are not.
It's easiest to figure out your marketing spending if you have accounts in your general ledger set up for specific types of marketing expenditures, such as for your website, collateral material, SEO, advertising copywriting and trade shows. If you don't have these accounts set up, make sure you do so for next year.
The average B2B company spends one to four per cent of target gross revenue on marketing; this changes drastically in some industries like technology. If you're spending too much on marketing, it's probably because you haven't stopped doing some of the marketing activities that you've traditionally done but that are no longer delivering good ROI.
A few years ago we worked with a client that was exhibiting at 50 trade shows per year. We reduced the number of shows to 35 without any negative impact on this client's brand or lead generation and shifted that spend to digital marketing, which started generating leads within the first six months.
4. HOW WELL DOES OUR MARKETING ALIGN WITH OUR BUSINESS STRATEGY?
Good marketing flows from a company's overall business strategy. Too many companies waste money on marketing activities that don't support their strategic goals. Their marketing ends up directionless—like a ship without a rudder. For each of the marketing activities you're undertaking, you should be able to answer what you're trying to accomplish with it and how this lines up with your company's business strategy.
And if you don't have an overall strategy for your business, that's a different problem—one that's up to you, not your marketing lead, to solve.
5. DOES OUR MARKETING TEAM POSESS THE SKILLS IT NEEDS?
Marketing is changing fast, and many marketing professionals aren't keeping up. Some are still using outdated tactics because that's what they know and they aren't familiar with newer tools that could connect with your target more effectively. If your marketing team is relying solely on what it has done in the past (or what you've told the team to do), it's becoming less effective every year—and isn't delivering value to you in growing your company.
Take a close look at your marketing plan for the next year, and based on the answers to the above questions figure out which change you need to make. Do you need to change the people in your marketing department? Outsource your marketing? Or provide professional development to educate your team?
If you want better results from your marketing in 2014, it's time to make some changes. To paraphrase Albert Einstein: poor marketing is doing the same thing over and over—and expecting different results.
Looking for more help to make marketing work in your B2B company? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.