This blog post is an excerpt from the eBook Marketers Making a Difference: Volume 3 about creating a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy. 

B2B Marketing StrategyIt’s time to dive into developing a comprehensive marketing strategy. I stress “comprehensive” because I think it is important to consider every avenue that may be relevant to and most importantly get you in front of your target audience. Determine the ideal mix of every element that will yield the best results and tie as many aspects as possible together to compound the impact of each campaign or element. To achieve this you will need to not only test, measure and repeat, but pay close attention to what you learned from buyer persona exercises and how they go about making purchasing decisions.

It is essential to communicate with and involve your sales team in your strategy development process; the members of the sales team are your primary customer and your success hinges on theirs, making it crucial to ensure marketing and sales are on the same page. This cooperation goes beyond just making sure they have the basic tools they need but extends to having strategic discussions on topics such as what level of sales enablement the sales staff may need versus demand generation, for example, to meet their goals. While you can get some of this insight from buyer persona research, there is no substitute for getting feedback directly from the sales folks in the trenches.

With today’s buyers being more empowered than ever as a result of their virtually unfettered access to information online, high quality content has to be the central focus of every marketing strategy. In fact, content marketing is so crucial that I would not only argue that you cannot have a successful marketing strategy without it but that you should structure (or re-structure) your marketing team to ensure you can deliver winning content that resonates with your buyers. Content helps build your brand, as it allows you to highlight your company’s unique strengths and services, and if you frequently update your site content, it allows you to become a trusted thought leader, while attracting followers and repeat site visitors. High quality relevant content is cached and ranked by search engines and thus drives traffic, improves organic search engine optimization, and increases inbound links – all essential elements to successful search engine optimization. The key to a successful content marketing strategy is a consistent cadence of engaging relevant content.

Leveraging the research on how your target buyers make their purchasing decisions and an understanding of where your sales team needs your support, craft programs and/or campaigns around relevant themes that drive the behavior you are looking to achieve. By way of example, let’s assume you are putting together a marketing strategy for a software solution provider with a 6 month sales cycle and a solution that has an average selling price of $100K. Your sales team has expressed a need for support that is equal parts sales enablement and demand generation, and thus you need a plan to engage your buyer as early as possible and then drive them through the funnel. In this case your strategy may include a program that includes the following elements:

  • Blog content that consistently talks objectively of the challenges your solution addresses and not only quantifies the pain, but justifies the potential added value of an alternative to current approaches
  • A series of “best practice guides” that objectively demonstrate the advantages of the new approach in general terms, highlight the cost of doing nothing, and bring to light additional pains they may not be aware of and how to avoid them. These guides would be gated so that you can capture prospects’ contact details.
  • Engage the relevant blog and editorial community with data, bylined articles and guest posts
  • Mirror of the “best practice guides” with a series of webinars that features
  • Third party experts or customers as presenters
  • A series of e-books and/or white papers that reflect the unique competitive and added value of this solution
  • A set of case studies, both written and video testimonial style, that present the value added benefits, return on investment, as well as the total cost of ownership advantages the customer experienced by deploying the solution
  • A product demo that highlights the ease of use and deployment
  • A lead qualification process that provides fully qualified opportunites to the sales team.

All of this content would be shared over the appropriate social media channels and thus its success would assume a reasonable amount of social reach (which I define as the number of followers on all the relevant social communities a company has). The usual set of well-designed landing pages, search engine optimization, and paid search (as appropriate) would also be included in this plan. By capturing the prospect contact details early in the process you can guide them through the sales funnel by offering them to content that continues to demonstrate the value of your solution. Continuing the theme of “there may be a more effective solution” through various media and waiting to establish credibility before introducing the alternative solution will build awareness in the early stages of the program and drive demand generation towards the latter stages of the program.

Putting together a straightforward and meaningful set of metrics to show clearly where marketing is having an impact on achieving corporate goals is the ideal way to measure your team. Market the marketing strategy. Share it with your peers/executive team and solicit feedback to ensure the key players buy into it and are aware of the metrics you will use to evaluate its success. Build flexibility into the strategy; in this real-time world you are going to have to adjust to changing market demands, and those who can embrace change and adapt will see greater success.

Enjoy this excerpt? Check out the entire ebook here or here. Feel free to connect with Richard directly, tweet him @rapril.