With the 2016 summer Olympic Games underway in Rio, we thought it was a great time to drive home the analogy that marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. What do we mean by this? Basically, it takes more than a short burst of energy to see long term success in B2B marketing. Most of the time, B2B marketing strategy and tactics take almost a year to play out fully.
During the first year of marketing, there are 4 major stages that, depending on your sales cycles, almost always take place. Here are some tips on what to do during these stages that guarantees results at the end:
1. PRE-MARKETING: STRATEGY AND PLANNING.
At this stage of your one year marketing marathon, you are getting prepped! Here, you make sure your B2B marketing strategy is solid and goes beyond the four P’s (product, price, promotion and place).
- Work out who your buyer personas are, how you should position your company and products and what you say to prospects through your messaging. You also have to ensure that you build a tactical plan that is aligned with your strategy.
- Define your business goals for the year and B2B marketing tactics that will help you reach that goal – ie. What you’ll actually be doing to meet your goals.
- Include a calendar so that you can look back to make sure you’re on track, a budget so that you know how much your marketing spend will be and a benchmark of KPIs (key performance indicators) which will help you keep track of your progress towards your goals.
2. GEARING UP: FOUNDATIONS OF MARKETING.
In the first stage after you’ve created your marketing plan, you start at a fairly fast pace. At this point, you’re working towards getting a head start and ensuring you’re all set to win at the end. Setting the foundations of marketing is all about getting your ducks in a row to and making sure you have the right platforms to support the tactics in your marketing plan.
- Worked into your tactical marketing plan, here you must ensure that you have a functional website which is visually engaging, provides the right content and effective from an SEO perspective.
- Make certian that your marketing efforts are supporting the sales team – Are they armed with the right collateral? Do they have the right tools to help them keep track of prospects and sales cycles? Are they in agreement with the marketing strategy and tactics you’ve set?
- Set the stage for communicating with potential customers. Social media platforms, tradeshows and events, media and associations – here’s where you do all the research and make sure everything is ready to go for when you have something valuable to share.
3. CAMPAIGNS TO FILL YOUR PIPELINE.
After you’ve built the foundation for your marketing marathon, you can afford to slow down your pace to something that will allow you to keep going till the end.
- Build thought leadership campaigns to start filling your pipeline and ensuring that you meet your business goals at the end.
- Tactics such as blogging, webinars, whitepapers, conferences, articles and emails are top of mind at this stage.
- Make sure that each campaign you run is targeted towards one or more of your buyer personas and aligns with your overall B2B marketing strategy. To learn more about thought leadership campaigns, read our recent blog post: THE BASICS OF INBOUND MARKETING
4. AT THE END OF YEAR ONE: A WELL-OILED MACHINE.
You’re at the end of your year-long marketing marathon and you see the finish line. What exactly is it? Now that you’ve build you foundation and run a few campaigns, you should be starting to see the results translate to actual dollar values. You’ve built a well-oiled marketing machine that knows what works and what doesn’t for your company. At this stage:
- Review your marketing KPIs to measure and refine your B2B marketing strategy based on your successes and failures so far.
- As you think about the year ahead, you restart from stage one and look to revisit some of your strategy and planning elements – have your business goals changed? Do you have new buyer personas to target? New geographical areas of industries to go after? Are your competitors doing something new and different that you should be thinking about?
- Refine your strategy and optimize your tactical plan for your next marathon!
B2B marketing, like most aspects of business, takes patience and perseverance. Though there are times when a short burst of energy, like a sprint, delivers knockout results, mostly, marketing is a marathon where a well thought out, steady pace wins the race. If your company is just starting to think about marketing, view our new webinar, How to Rev Up Your Revenue Engine to learn how to easily work through the 4 stages of year-one marketing that guarantees results. Feel free to contact us with any questions.