Do you ever have to face the question ‘What’s the point of a marketing strategy?’ Or better yet, do you find yourself asking that same question? You’re not alone.
I hear from many CEOs of B2B companies that they don’t have time or interest to develop a marketing strategy. They want to be out to market with their message, yesterday! I understand the urgency and enthusiasm but I’ve seen too many B2B companies waste tens of thousands of dollars on the wrong marketing tactics and poor execution because they didn’t have a plan. I’m convinced that having a plan is the starting point for B2B marketing success.
Developing a marketing strategy shouldn’t be a navel-gazing activity. If you feel it’s just an academic exercise, it probably means you’ve suffered through planning exercises in the past that weren’t focusing on the right things. While the 4 Ps (product, price, place and promotion) may be the framework for most marketing textbooks, they aren’t that useful for small and midsized B2B companies unless you consider the following.
Think about these 3 areas as part of an effective B2B marketing strategy:
- Target Market(s): Who are the customer groups we’re pursuing? What do they need?
- Value Proposition: Why should buyers buy from us instead of the competition?
- Messaging: What words will spark interest among our target customers, and how will we get our message to them?
Here are four questions to help your team create a clear marketing strategy:
1. Who is the buyer and what do they need?
- Who buys what we sell? What are their priorities and problems?
- What are our customers’ pain points and motivators? What’s important to them? One way to figure out their problems and priorities is to conduct interviews with them.
- How do buyers learn - about new vendors, services, products?
- How do prospects and customers research and collect information about what we sell (e.g. websites, industry publications, trade shows, webinars, trade publications or other ways)?
2. Who influences the buyer?
- There are usually numerous influencers involved in a B2B purchase process. Just as with prospects and customers, consider the priorities and pains of influencers. What motivates them and how do they learn about new solutions? This will help us develop the messages that will resonate with them, and provide insight on how to get our message out to them.
3. What does the competition offer?
- Who are our direct and indirect competitors? What is the breadth and depth of their product / service lines, their pricing structure, distribution and market position? Don’t forget about indirect competitors – understanding how a particular solution compares to an indirect competitor is often the biggest opportunity for B2B companies.
4. What is our company really good at?
- What is our quantified, specific and objective competitive advantage? Defining what we are really good at will give us the ability to define a strong value proposition. This is key because it answers customers’ most pressing question: Why should I buy from you?
Solid answers (not guesses – you’ll need to do some homework) to these four questions will give you the foundation for effective B2B marketing. Take the good information you’ve gathered and define your strategy: who is your target market, what is your value proposition, and what compelling message will you present to the market? With these areas defined, you’re well on your way to effective B2B marketing.
For further suggestions on how you can modify your marketing strategy to best suit your objectives, take a look at some of our white papers here, or give us a call at 416.583.5831.