A B2B marketing strategy is your business’ plan to identify a brand, establish a voice, and market your product or services to those who could benefit from it. With any industrial marketing strategy, there are key components that should come together to create a solid base and plan of attack for getting the word out and ultimately securing you more business.
Let’s take a look at the important questions and components that you’ll need to answer and see how each one plays into marketing plan.
Further Reading: Download the free resource guide: 8 Keys to Planning an Inbound Marketing Strategy.
What are your B2B Goals?
As you start to visualize a picture of the business and financial situation that you’d like to create, you will start to align all of the strategic parts of your B2B marketing plan to support your overall objectives. You might refine them based on your target customers, but your goals will ultimately be the drivers of your supporting strategies.
Simple insights about measuring trends
You can’t manage your business effectively without understanding the trends in your business. In order to have reasonable expectations for future performance, you’ll need to understand how you’ve performed in at least the last year. Trend and magnitude are most important. Is the trend increasing, declining or flat? Is the significance big or small?
You’ll need to keep in mind that if your growth, for example, has experienced a relatively small magnitude, that you’re unlikely to get a big jump without a lot of effort. If it’s declining, then you’ve got problems to diagnose and fix.
Start with your sales goals
Now that you have an understanding of the basic trends in your business, you can focus on where you’re headed.
In addition to your topline revenue, consider the average value of a typical customer so that you can estimate the number of new customers that you’ll need to meet your sales objectives. If you’re only considering new customers, then you’re assuming that your retention rates and existing customer performance will remain the same. If you want to refine your understanding of your sales goals, calculate your customer lifetime value (try our online CLV calculator), so that you can evaluate what your cash flow might look like with increased retention, gross margins, or increased pricing.
Qualified Leads and Conversion Goals
Start with a good definition of a lead and gather trends and insights about how many of them are typically in your pipeline. What ratios are converting from qualified leads to sales opportunities? What percentage of sales opportunities convert to closed business?
Understanding your conversion rates can empower you to focus on specific strategies for each stage. For example, if you’re not converting enough qualified leads, maybe you need to focus on acquiring more targeted traffic – and maybe you don’t have enough traffic to yield the conversion rates that you really need.
Target Your Audience Effectively
Who are your best customers? Your business can’t be all things to all customers. There are some customers that are more profitable and some customers that you can help more? Some are more loyal. When you refine and segment your prospect groups, you can prioritize different strategies or sequence them in accordance with the groups that will help you grow most-effectively.
Further Reading: Download the Buyer Persona Workbook – Identifying and developing effective B2B buyer personas.
There is a range of important questions you should ask about your target audiences. If you can, focus on no more than 2 or 3.
- Which customers can I help
- What are the characteristics, common to my best customers (industry, size, etc…)
- Who are the stakeholders and decision-makers involved
- What does the buying process look like
- Who else competes for the same opportunities
- What are their core business problems
- How does our offering intersect with their values and needs
Determine your positioning
Now that you have selected your highest priority opportunities, you’ll want to visit and refine your positioning as needed. If you’ve done your homework and reviewed your competitors’ positions, and developed buyer personas to understand the beliefs and behaviors of your ideal customer, you can decide how you want to be perceived by your customers.
Remember that perceptions and preferences are related to comparisons with other likely competitors in the same category. When you’re considering the visual assets of your company, your content, messaging points, and even values – you’ll want as much direct, observable information as you can gather.
What do they believe about us today?
You don’t control what customers believe, but you can influence their beliefs. Ask yourself about customer objections and potential negative perceptions of your company and of those in the same category. A huge mistake that companies make is underestimating or ignoring the negative perceptions of customers.
Don’t get beguiled by your own beliefs about quality. It’s not uncommon for you to appreciate the quality of your own solutions, but you don’t get to decide what quality really means. A customer might value the knowledge of your sales team or the ease of working with you – and see your products as interchangeable commodities with other competitors.
Make sure that you understand their problems.
What do we want them to believe about us?
Now that you understand the real-world perceptions about your business, you can start to address the gaps. What messaging or evidence would help you demonstrate your positioning in a believable way? You might consider use-cases or case studies to offer relevant examples of how you solve problems and embed language that helps you stand out from the crowd and explain what you can do those other companies can’t.
Once you’ve established your positioning, it’s time to focus on building a content-rich website. If your business depends on word-of-mouth referrals, then don’t forget that 100% of those referrals will visit your website before interacting with your sales team. What happens if your website isn’t engaging and doesn’t provide answers to the questions and problems that your prospect is asking? You’re going to lose them to a competitor. Your website, therefore, even if you don’t execute transactions online, becomes the biggest part of your sales engine.
You don’t necessarily need to make a huge up-front investment in your website. By focusing on a Growth-Driven Designed website, you can build a foundational website and prioritize continuous improvement initiatives based on your highest priority business goals and real-world user behavior.
Further Reading: Download the Principles of Growth Driven Website Design. Learn how to unlock the benefits of data-driven development.
Your website foundation should include:
- Problems you solve
- About how your customer works with you
- Home page and core value proposition
- A blog (it’s essential)
- A landing page to convert prospects to leads
- Contact information
- An about us page
- It should be responsive for different device types
- It should include SSL (secure socket layer)
- It should be optimized for speed
- It should reflect structural best practices in SEO
Your Sales and Marketing Tech Stack
The marketing and sales software tools you utilize in your business make up your technology stack. From SEO to email marketing, there are many tools out there that can be used to track and engage your audience during every part of their buyer’s journey. Your core marketing strategy needs to involve:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
This is your contact, company and deal database. The right system should help keep your sales processes well-organized in a way that allows you to categorize your customers, identify where they are in the sales process and empower your business development team to close business and retain customers.
Looking for help getting started? The HubSpot CRM is free. Request a free HubSpot CRM Setup and our team will configure and migrate your data.
Very few pieces of your marketing should be done manually. A marketing automation platform like HubSpot can help you execute a myriad of repetitive marketing tasks that provides deep personalization for your customers without letting anyone slip through the cracks. You can set up workflows that are triggered by specific user behavior, like sending an email when a customer visits a specific page on your website or changing the prospect classification based on how the content that they view. Marketing automation can help manage email marketing, social media, or advertising. Automation isn’t just efficient though, it’s relevant and personal to the users.
Data Analysis and Website Analytics Information
Your web analytics show the traffic and effectiveness of your website, one of the foundations of your industrial marketing strategy. Without these metrics, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to tell exactly whether or not your campaigns are effective.
You’ve created your positioning, the foundation of your website, and implemented the tools you need to succeed, but what about your content strategy? A business’ content strategy is generally defined as the message they’re trying to portray in order to show prospective buyers that they’re able, reliable, and trustworthy. In many cases in this industry, the buyer’s journey lasts weeks or even months, so it’s important to put a narrative out there that gives prospects a reason to choose you over anyone else.
A huge piece of this is creating the right content for your website. This can include:
- Blog posts or relevant articles
- Downloadable content in exchange for contact information
- Videos or webinars that show transparency
- ROI calculators
Overall, your content should be beneficial and engaging, allowing prospective buyers to better understand who you are and what you do.
Lead Generation Strategies
Lead generation comes from a combination of inbound marketing (prospects reaching out to find out more about your services), outbound marketing (strategically-timed phone calls and emails offering your services), and paid media (online ads and more).
In an ideal scenario, your inbound marketing is your main source of prospects, as it takes less money and energy when people are finding out about you through referrals or information posted on your website and willingly giving you a call to find out more. That doesn’t mean that outbound and paid media aren’t important, however, as they get the word out about your product or services and generate leads in a more actionable and tailored way.
Once you’ve acquired your leads, it’s vital to ensure that they’re tracked and sorted in a way that makes sense for your business. This, in effect, creates the need for “pipeline management”, or the way that your leads move through your sales and marketing process. This comes in the form of follow-ups, whether it’s phone calls or automated emails, further content pushing to remind and excite prospects about your services, and ultimately the close of a sale.
Just because you have a lead in your pipeline doesn’t mean that your job is done! Getting them to utilize your products or services is the end goal, and making sure they’re loyal customers into the future is just as important.
Putting a plan into action
Here’s a tip about planning. Over planning will kill your strategy. The first step is to organize your activities into logical campaigns. A campaign is a series of interrelated activities that are focused on a segment of customers with a specific goal in mind, for example, to generate targeted traffic or deeper engagement, or to convert more qualified leads.
Now that you know how to organize your projects, you’ll want to sequence and align them in a series of time-based initiatives. Don’t forget that you already know what your big “horizon” goals are for the year. Now you want to focus on executing projects (campaigns) that will drive towards your bigger goals. By measuring your performance at every stage, you can optimize and improve your strategies, constantly refining them to drive better results. This agile approach offers increased flexibility.
Analyze your data
B2B marketing strategies are ever-changing and evolving. Finding one way to develop your website, create your content strategy, and manage your pipeline doesn’t mean your job is done. That’s where effective data analysis comes in.
Attribution Reporting is Key
Another reason that you’ll want to continuously measure your marketing campaigns is that by understanding which tactics or channels are attributed to new leads and customers will help you optimize your approach. That means less wasted time and investment and more sales and faster sales velocity. Discovering what works and gets people to convert to customers may have an effect on the way that you reach out to potential clients in the future. Data analysis is a matter of understanding the numbers and coming up with the most effective way to get an ROI on your advertisements, software implementation, and marketing dollars.
These key components of your industrial marketing strategy each contribute to the number of prospects and clients you’re bringing into your business. Through each one, you’re telling a story that your audience wants to hear, inviting them to utilize your business to benefit their end goal while bringing you even closer to yours.