As part of the launch of The Radical Sales Shift, we held a "marketing speed dating" session to give companies the chance to pick some smart B2B marketing brains. We got lots of great questions, which I'm sharing you in this series of blog posts.
In the second marketing speed dating post I described the ‘marketing paralysis’ that can happen when B2B companies are starting out in marketing – too many options leaves them flailing about and not able to focus on the activities that will deliver results.
That post generated a lot of feedback, so I’m going to elaborate on how companies can get marketing going for their business in this post.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to launching B2B marketing: one is purely tactical, and the other is strategic. Neither school of thought is right or wrong per se, they’re a reflection of different priorities and ways of thinking.
School of Thought One: The Tactical Approach (Short-term focus)
When you want to get out to the market ASAP and start generating revenue, tackling the most burning issues can be a logical approach. You may want to send an email newsletter to existing clients, do some sales outreach or host a webinar. The objective is to create marketing than has an immediate sales impact and gets things into the pipeline. This is usually a campaign-based initiative with a focus on short-term lead generation.
The ‘pro’ of this approach is that it’s relatively quick to execute. A single idea can be the basis for the campaign, and you don’t need to integrate it with other strategic marketing considerations.
The downside? If it’s not part of a larger plan, it can’t be connected with other initiatives that lead to an overall consistent strategic marketing approach. It can also be off the mark and lead to more damage than benefit. I’ve seen instances where, for example, companies have not thought through the needs of their target market and aren’t communicating to them in language that’s compelling - so the campaign doesn’t generate any interest.
Net / net: If you’re in a situation where you absolutely need marketing to generate revenue results in a short time-frame, this is a good way to go. Ad hoc marketing can be effective in the short term, but is hard to sustain for more than 3 – 6 months.
School of Thought Two: The Strategic Approach (Long-term focus)
Strategic marketing takes time, and usually requires a longer timeline (months or years) to show a positive ROI. The benefit is that the marketing starts on the basis of a strategy and plan, which will achieve momentum over time.
The con is that it’s harder to do. And because the results show over the long-term rather than the short-term, a lot of marketers default to the tactical approach.
But if you’re serious about marketing as a competitive advantage for your business and a major generator of revenue, then strategic marketing is the way to go. In the strategic approach, you start by defining your target market, clarifying your value proposition and refining your messaging. Also determine who you're going after and why they should engage with you. That’s your marketing strategy.
Next up is your tactical roadmap. Having a plan is the best way to avoid shiny marketing syndrome; jumping on a different bandwagon every couple of weeks is the kiss of death. In your road map, you map out what you're going to do and when you're going to do it.
Sequencing of tactics
This depends on what you already have in place. But generally, this is a good start:
1. Build your brand
Define your brand personality, standards (look and feel), promise and positioning.
2. Build a website that reflects your strategy
Make sure it's visually up-to-date, professionally written and offers clear, concise info that answers any questions your customers may have.
3. Create strong, consistent collateral
You probably have bits and pieces that have been done over the years. Update them to match your strategy and brand. And remember, collateral doesn't have to be printed in large batches. Here are some ideas:
- Create a digital brochure.
- Build a professional PowerPoint to enhance presentations and enable you to change information on the fly.
- Interview clients for case studies and testimonials.
- Send out email marketing – it can be very effective if executed with solid content and strategic thinking.
4. Build a LinkedIn presence
Create professional, content-rich LinkedIn profiles for all your leaders and salespeople, and use them to share your expertise.
Combining the two schools: the tactical strategist
There is actually a third school of thought, which brings the first two approaches together. You can start by pushing out some short-term, sales-oriented tactics in the first six months to foster pipeline growth, but simultaneously plan a long-term strategy. It's a lot more work and takes a high level of skill, but it certainly offers a best-of-both-worlds scenario.
So the answer to the question of where to start (and how to start) comes down to this. Short-term marketing (and marketing thinking) will only take you so far, but can be an effective way to kick-start revenues. The important thing is to think long-term. Even if you start off tactically, if you layer on a strategic marketing approach, you'll be setting your company up for future success.
Want more ideas on how to achieve success with your company’s marketing? Read The Radical Sales Shift, 20 Lessons from 20 Leaders on How to Use Marketing to Grow Sales in B2B Companies. You can download the first section, FREE, below.