It’s time to reflect on the past 12 months to figure out how your business can improve in 2014.

Ask yourself:

  • Did your business achieve the growth objectives it set earlier this year?
  • Did marketing contribute to your business’ progress over the past year?
  • Did your marketing strategy deliver results according to your expectations?

If you’re not answering these questions with a resounding yes, there is a problem: Your marketing strategy isn’t working as well as it should.

b2b marketing strategy

Here are 5 possible reasons why:

1. Your marketing strategy is focused on your product, not your buyers

The biggest mistake B2B marketers make is to build a marketing strategy centered around the product. All to often, marketers spend a portion of their budget developing marketing material that showcases a product, it’s features and the benefits it can offer to a company. Unfortunately, these materials rarely deliver the results you need because buyers are turned off by a sales pitch within seconds. They have no time to spend on reading marketing materials that are not relevant to their specific needs or the problem they’re trying to solve.

While marketing objectives should stem from your company’s overall objectives, your marketing strategy should be focused on your buyers. Understanding the journey they go through in solving their particular problems and developing a strategy around that. Within this strategy, outline your target objectives, buyer personas, the problems they face, their needs, behaviour and preferred means of communication. Then determine the right tactics to use to support your buyer focused strategy.

2. You are leveraging the wrong mix of tactics

Arbitrary tactic selection will get you nowhere. Top of funnel (TOFU) tactics such as advertisements or blogs are usually the ones that come to mind when you discuss tactic selection, but these rarely deliver results without middle of funnel (MOFU) and bottom of funnel (BOFU) tactics to support them. Regardless of the types of tactics you use – inbound/outbound or digital/traditional – an effective marketing strategy needs a carefully designed end-to-end campaign from trouble to close or nurture.

This campaign must leverage the right tactics for each stage of the buyer’s journey and each of the tactics selected must lead the target to the next stage in the journey. For instance, you may use problem-focused content on channels such as blogs or social media to trouble buyers, lead them to a whitepaper that piques their interest and get them to establish contact with a salesperson, who then uses a meeting tool to agree on a need, which leads the buyer to be open to receive an offer, which is accompanied by a product demo to increase their preference of the product.

3. There is no discipline around execution

One thing almost all businesses are guilty of is lack of discipline around their marketing execution. It is not uncommon for small business owners to get caught up with everything else that marketing gets pushed to the back burner. The result: tactics are executed when it’s convenient to them. With inconsistent marketing, you can’t expect to consistently generate high quality leads or revenue.

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, stresses the importance of discipline and uses the analogy of a flywheel to explain the need of regular contact to build momentum. He explains, to get a flywheel moving, it needs to be pushed repeatedly and immediately after the previous push to ensure it gains momentum and continues spinning. This idea of rhythmic, consistent push applies to marketing execution. Tactics executed at irregular intervals will not create momentum, and will fail to lead buyers to the bottom of the funnel. Therefore it is important for businesses to build a marketing plan with scheduled rhythmic marketing touches to your audience to build and sustain momentum with your buyers.

4. You don’t know your numbers

If there’s one thing a lot of businesses could do more of, it’s measurement. We all measure the usual numbers such as the number of leads generated per tactic and conversion of leads to customers, but rarely do we measure marketing’s contribution to revenue. It is important for you to hold marketers accountable to revenue to understand Marketing’s true contribution. Of course, this doesn’t mean you let Sales off the hook. It means you need to hold both Marketing and Sales accountable to achieving your revenue objectives.

Work out the exact numbers for each tactic (progressed leads) in your end-to-end campaign by month and year to achieve your business objectives, and set your targets accordingly. This will let you know how many leads you need to generate from blogging, SEO, whitepapers and events to achieve your objectives. Then, measure the results generated by every tactic at every stage of the buyer’s journey. With this, you will know which tactics are effective and which are not and determine improvements to each of them. Support this with additional research and A/B testing to ensure you are constantly improving your marketing.

5. You don’t have the right resources in place

The four points above can help you build the right plan and the right system to support that plan, but Marketing will not succeed without the right people in place. In our work, we’ve seen small business owners underestimate the power of people in marketing, and choose to tackle marketing themselves or hire marketers that do not hold the necessary B2B principles. It’s no surprise that their marketing fails to delivers results as expected.

Jim Collins clearly emphasizes the importance of people within a business, stating, “Leaders of companies that go from good to great start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats”. For successful marketing, you need the right people with the right skills supporting your business. Whether this is internal or external is irrelevant – you simply need a marketer with the breadth of skills to execute a wide range of tactics, and the depth within each of these skills to execute them well to build and execute an effective marketing strategy.

Once you have identified the reason why your marketing isn’t working, you can then take the steps to improve it and kick off 2014 with a bang.

For an in-depth analysis of your marketing performance and to identify areas you need to focus on this year, take our free health check.