As we’ve been helping clients develop their marketing plans for 2012, four key themes have continued to surface. These themes have been present in most of our marketing planning conversations with our small and medium sized business clients as key pillars of their 2012 activities.
These themes have been effective in terms of helping clients prioritize marketing activities, budget and resources. With that start of any new year, it’s easy to want to re-evaluate everything. Often, it’s simply a matter of getting back to the basics. Here are the four key themes we see in B2B Marketing for small and medium sized businesses next year.
#1 – Focus, Focus, Focus
In marketing, the more focus we have, the more effective we can be. Whether it’s a matter of focusing on specific verticals or prioritizing target geographies, honing in allows marketers to build more targeted activities, provides greater clarity to budget and resource allocation and enables us to better track marketing effectiveness.
And if you are a company that is only beginning to target specific verticals, you are far better to select a few verticals to focus on (and where you can make the biggest impact) then to try and target too many. This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses that simply do not have the budget or resources to penetrate every vertical that’s of interest.
#2 – Continue Thought Leadership
Being seen as a subject matter expert is critical to establishing and building credibility within your industry, target markets and verticals. If your firm has begun its thought leadership activities such as white papers, case studies, articles, continue the effort. There are many ways to leverage thought leadership materials which can make a significant impact such as providing support to your sales team who are trying to close deals to increasing your company’s awareness through public relations and speaking engagements.
#3 – Targeted Lead Generation
Related to theme #1, focusing your lead generation tactics on very specific targets is key to maximizing your marketing ROI. This is a critical theme as more and more companies are expanding their marketplace to include new geographies and verticals. It’s really important that your marketing activities balance both broader awareness tactics with tactics that speak to specific target markets. The more targeted you are, the more you can tailor your message (and offering) to specific pain points which will resonate more with your target market.
#4 – Keep Customers Close
The final theme involves your existing customer base and can include both your end customers as well as any other ‘customer’ relationships you have such as with distributors and OEMs. Often, marketing can focus on getting new customers when there can be huge opportunities to grow revenue within your existing customer base and/or increase the level of engagement of distributors and OEMs.
The competitive landscape is intensifying with many of our clients which make it even more important to keep a close eye on your existing customer base. Don’t lose sight of who you have in your customer database and build a strong program that effectively communicates to them whether that involves after-sales support, warranty, or cross-selling opportunities.
While your company may have other themes, these four, are virtually relevant for any organization. If you are seeing other marketing themes, we would love to hear what they are and what impact they are having on your 2012 marketing plan.