One of the most common challenges for B2B companies is knowing which marketing tactics they should implement. They might hear about a particular tactic, jump on the bandwagon, and then when it doesn’t work out, they proclaim, “Marketing doesn’t work for our company”.
Or they might stick with a tactic, because it’s common in their industry, or it’s the way things have always been done. These techniques lead to ineffective marketing because a good strategy is all about choosing the right tactics at the right time
Almost every B2B company wants a standard prescription for marketing tactics. I wish there was such an easy answer. But many factors influence which marketing tactics a company should use:
– The industry
– The target market
– The company’s position in the market
– How much marketing the company has done in the past and how successful it has been
– What kind of marketing does the competition do
– The company’s goals
I have four guidelines to help companies choose the right tactics.
Guideline 1: Get the basics in place
In my experience, B2B companies focus mainly on sales and product development when starting out. Marketing isn’t a 58 Lisa SHePHerd major consideration, but some marketing basics are needed to legitimize the company and support the sales team in securing early-stage customers. The marketing basics vary by industry but usually include a website (that accurately reflects the company’s solutions and value), a company overview, and product technical specification sheets. Other tools that can be helpful include product demonstration videos, ROI calculators, case studies, and testimonials.- The company’s marketing budget
Guideline 2: What’s your stage of evolution?
Different B2B marketing tactics have an impact at different stages of growth—some deliver incredible ROI at one stage and none (or negative) at another. I use this rough framework to guide what marketing investments a B2B company should consider.
The main areas are education and awareness, lead generation, and brand building. This framework is a rough outline—there aren’t always clearly defined lines between stages.
The early stages of most B2B marketing are typically focused on getting pilot clients. The target market doesn’t know the company—and in many cases doesn’t even know that their solution exists—so it’s the role of sales and marketing to educate the market and raise awareness. In Phase 1, marketing investments should educate the market and generate awareness, such as video demonstrations, white papers, telemarketing, and speaking engagements.
In some industries, social media works well at this stage. Unless a B2B company is venture-funded and has very aggressive growth goals, the marketing investments should be narrowly focused at this stage. Marketing’s primary role is to support the company in securing enough pilot clients to create a track record.
Once a B2B company has a track record and a story to tell, it can move into a more aggressive expansion period where marketing is looked to for higher ROI. There is no hard line indicating when a company has arrived at this stage, generally, an organization will have a sense of confidence that they have enough proof of concept and reference clients to assert themselves in the market.
At this stage, B2B companies should add marketing activities that focus on generating leads and leveraging the awareness that was built during Phase One. Examples include SEO, lead nurturing systems, and webinars. To support these activities, more time must be spent on content development to provide the inputs for the marketing activities.