Whether it’s planning a vacation, driving to work or buying a new home, you always need a plan. B2B marketing is no different. It's fun to do marketing activities - but it's even better to do activities that lead to marketing results. That's why a plan is critical - it ensures that you know what direction you want to go in and are moving towards them. But what should you include in your plan? This blog post outlines the key elements of a marketing strategy.
What do you need in a strategy?
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu, Art of War
Sun Tzu is often quoted when the word strategy is mentioned for good reason. To use his battle strategy as a metaphor, without a strategy you’re like a general laying siege, with a dwindling supply of food and water and no siege weapons, to a well-fortified and self-sufficient city. What’s more, this is all because no one thought about how to feed or arm the army. They only envisioned the end game: the riding victoriously through the city. You need a carefully thought out plan that will take you directly to what you want to achieve: to your goal.
Your goal is what you want to achieve. How you’re going to get there and succeed is your strategy. So if you are the army, the city is the market you want to crack and full of potential buyers. To get the citizens to open the gates and welcome you in willingly will depend on your strategy.
For that to happen, you need to consider three things (hint, this is what your strategy should include!):
- your target market
- your value proposition
- your positioning.
The most important part of your marketing strategy is to outline who your buyer is and why they want your product.
Without a clearly defined target market, you’re making your soldiers run around the countryside stopping everyone because an emissary (buyer) got out of the besieged city and is on his way to pledge allegiance to (buy from) a neighbouring city (your competitor). Without knowing anything about the emissary (who represents your target market), you’re wasting time and energy.
You can create a profile of your buyer in seven easy steps:
- What industry does he or she work in? What’s the size of the company and what sort of organization is it?
- What’s her role in the organization?
- What problems is the organization trying to solve?
- What’s their problem solving process?
- What’s the company’s process for working with new vendors?
- Is the company aware of the solutions to the problemn you solve, or do you need to educate them?
- Are they a tech savvy company or relatively unsophisticated?
Your value proposition is the reason why a prospective buyer should buy from you rather than from your competitor. QuickSprout has a great infographic on what a value proposition should look like and how to create one.
The third component of an effective strategic marketing plan is your positioning. Positioning defines how you're different than your competitors. The best bit about this third step is that most of the work has already been done. You’ve simply to consider the following:
- Who is the product for?
- What type of business are you in?
- What differentiates you from competitors?
Keeping target market, value proposition and positioning in mind, you're well on your way conquering that city full of prospective buyers. Happy marketing!
For a look at how The Mezzanine Group develops a full strategic marketing plan, click here.