This is the time of year when business owners review their marketing performance and start planning for next year. For some companies, it's a time to celebrate successes. And just as often, it's a time that they lament what hasn't worked, and they feel they've wasted their money on.
Busines to business (B2B) company executives have been telling us about the errors they've committed and the marketing problems they want to fix.
To help you avoid some costly mistakes, we're sharing the four most common marketing problems to fix before they drain your budget.
1. No Road Map
The vast majority of B2B companies undertake marketing in an ad hoc way. They do a number of campaigns over the course of a year and every few years they undertake a major project like a website overhaul or a corporate identity refresh.
The problem with this is that there is no thread that runs between campaigns and directs the initiatives. It often means that companies get 'sold' on an idea that sounds great in the short-term but doesn't align with other activities that are taking place and doesn't deliver on their long-term objectives. It also means that companies are reactive with their marketing, which makes costs higher and investments less successful than if they are planned, and that companies miss out on opportunities when they arise.
In my experience, there's nothing more valuable than having a marketing roadmap. It doesn't need to be fancy, but it should outline these 5 things:
- tactics that you plan to use for the upcoming year
- a calendar of when various activities will happen
- a budget that includes core and optional items, and some buffer - new things always come up!
- a scorecard with your key metrics
Want to know more? Here are some additional pointers in a recent ProfitGuide column.
2. NOT MARKETING FOR IDEAL TARGET CUSTOMERS
Every company that's been in business for a while knows that there are great customers for the company, and less great customers. Marketing is all about helping your business find and attract more of those ideal customers. Too many companies don't bother to map out who those ideal customers are. And that means the company will chase anyone and everyone. That means a massive waste of marketing money. Have you heard the Russian expression that if you chase two rabbits you will catch none?
It's exactly the same for marketing in B2B companies. Your marketing should focus on one or two specific types of customers that you know your business is incredibly well positioned to serve. Develop messages, content and channels of communication that will resonate with those types customers. Don't go after everyone. That just means you will spend a lot of money and only vaguely appeal to the vast majority of people you reach. In today's competitive landscape, that's not good enough. Rather, focus on those prospects that you know will be the best customers for you. It will mean your marketing is far more successful - and more importantly - that your business is far more successful over the long term.
3. Doing Too Much Marketing
We see this a lot with B2B companies who are new to marketing. Strategic marketing is one of those things that looks easy from the outside and somehow is more complicated to execute in reality. That's because strategic marketing is integrated marketing. Which means that it isn't an issue of executing a single tactic like writing a blog post or attending a trade show. There are usually a dozen different mktg activities that need to integrate with each other, hence the complexity.
We have seen time and time again that companies are far more successful when they plan to execute just a few major tactics, and they do them well. If you are planning to undertake a thought leadership approach in 2016, start by doing 2 white papers. If you do one every six months, you will have enough time to do all of the promotional campaigns that should happen around a significant marketing asset like a whitepaper. It will take you 30 to 60 hours to develop a whitepaper, and you want to invest 2 to 3 times more time in promoting the whitepaper via blog posts, social media, webinars, speaking engagements and others.
Too many companies make the mistake of investing in a major marketing asset like a whitepaper, then they post it to their website and move on to the next thing. They've essentially wasted all the time they've invested in developing that asset.
4. Chasing Shiny Marketing Objects
The biggest problem in B2B marketing is that it is perceived as a sexy and fun function. Sure, it can be sexy and fun, but that perception can cause companies to waste an awful lot of money. Companies will often jump on ‘interesting sounding’ marketing tactics because they’ve heard about them from a fellow business owner or read a story about them. They believe that because the tactic delivered great results for another company, it will do the same for them. What they don’t realize is that there are often a dozen other elements that lead to the success of that particular marketing initiative for the company. And without having a plan for integrating that tactic with the rest of the company’s marketing activities, and fully understanding how it will work for them, it often leads to wasted dollars and shattered expectations.
Don't cast about for shiny marketing objects, they will drain your budget like no other tactic can. As you plan for your 2016 marketing, I hope these tips will help you ensure that your marketing delivers its best ROI ever.