Foundation for B2B Marketing

Today, I’m launching a new blog series on the topic of Marketing Integration. This is my first post which introduces our B2B marketing integration (MI) framework.

Before reading any further you may want to check out an earlier post entitled “What Is Marketing“. In this post I propose that marketing should be a strategic and tactical discipline in every B2B company.

Marketing should be viewed as a key function that is to be performed by each and every individual in the company. I’m not talking about bad marketing but productive marketing. Marketing that makes a difference for you, your business and your customers. Here’s one tip on how to do that with your special events.

This framework can hopefully assist you and your team as you evolve into a marketing driven organization.

What is a framework?

Frameworks are tools and reference models professionals use in order help set direction, make priorities, complete projects and tasks (among other things).

They can be used in your business:

However, the trick is making it so frameworks are easy to remember and use and drive results in your business.

The MI6 B2B marketing integration framework?

For the past 25 years I’ve been marketing to create, service and keep customers. During this time I’ve developed a B2B marketing framework which is at the core of the Mi6 offering. The “mi” in the name/logo of the company stands for “marketing integration” and the 6 represents the key spokes that make the marketing integration flywheel move.

This framework continues to evolve, as it should!. Here is our most recent version:

The B2B Marketing Integration Framework (Creative Commons 3.0 License Deed)

Here’s the Breakdown for Each

Today’s B2B buyers rely on word of mouth and search to find answers to key business challenges they face. They seek out people that are skilled and experienced to help them learn and solve these problems.

Branding is all about what your company is known for in your industry and by your customers (hopefully this is aligned with what you want them to know you as!).

Thought leadership is about what knowledge you offer, share and use to help your customers be successful.

In the past sales people were the providers of information to customers. They were the primary conduit that customers relied upon for industry updates, new product introductions and updates on how to benefit more from the sales persons company’s products. This has changed! Now buyers rely on their peers, Google and social networks to gather information.

Business Development, from a B2B marketing perspective, is all about creating word of mouth, getting found through search and participating in conversations in Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. The end result is a prospective customer expressing interest in what you have to offer or asking if you can help them solve a problem.

Relationships have always mattered but until recently “numbers” mattered more. In B2B it always boils down to # of leads, # of deals and ultimately ROI. Too much effort has been put on “lead generation” and interruption based marketing and sales prospecting.

Communications and Community is about sharing information that benefits your customers in order to create stronger connections with them. Over time, your brand and the thought leadership you demonstrate can make those connections stronger and deeper. This is what relationship building is all about and the next step is to facilitate connections with others and build your own community. The key to building relationships is to provide incremental ways to show value to your customers.

We are faced with many decisions to make as B2B marketing and business development professionals. Where should we invest our precious marketing funds? What should be the topic of an upcoming seminar? Is social media the right thing for us?

A principle is a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct. From a B2B perspective using principles helps you make decisions fast. The principle we use is called the “Four R’s of B2B Marketing”. You can use it to design a marketing program or as a litmus test on a potential marketing activity you are considering investing in. They are: Return, Relevance, Relationships and Reputation.

We need to be able to use technology in order to effectively market and business develop. There is a myriad of tools available today, many of them are free, that help marketers produce content, communicate, engage and measure.

The collection and use of these tools and now social networks form what we call a platform that the marketer uses in order to design, manage, execute, monitor and measure. The Mi6 platform consists of a series of tools that are necessary for today’s marketer to be productive and successful.

Programming marketing and business development in to your company is done using marketing programs.

Marketing programs focus on creating specific business objectives and strategies in the areas of branding, thought leadership, business development, communications and community development.

The principles described earlier are applied to the design and decision making for programs. The platform is used to manage, execute, monitor and measure the success of these programs.

What do you think of this framework? Is there something to add to make it better? Does it seem too theoretical and not practical enough for today’s results based marketer?

Read more: 5 Amazing Infographics to Guide Your Online B2B Marketing