Creating a B2B marketing strategy can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you are crafting next year’s marketing strategy, refreshing an existing strategy, or starting from zero, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps to create an effective B2B marketing strategy for your company or brand.
Before you can create a roadmap, you need to know where you want to go. This doesn’t need to be an intensive process, but the best marketing strategies are based on clearly defined, specific objectives.
Ideally, you’ll start with a high-level goal and then break it down into more specific objectives. Many people like to talk in terms of SMART goals or objectives:
Your broad goal for marketing may simply be to increase revenue or build brand awareness. Once you have the larger goal defined, try to break it down into SMART goals. For example, if you are looking to increase revenue, your B2B marketing goal may be to generate 10 qualified website leads for your sales team each month. This goal is SMART because it’s specific and measurable (10 leads), is something you can work towards with your campaigns, is relevant to your efforts, and is time-oriented (monthly).
Take a minute to define your high-level goal.
Next, define 1 – 2 SMART objectives to get you to that goal.
You may be thinking, “Wait, don’t I need a strategy before I gather my resources?” That is often how marketers go about building their strategy, but we recommend tackling your resources early on. We’ve seen great B2B marketing plans fail because the marketing team or company just didn’t have the resources to fulfill that plan.
Resources include securing a budget (or ballpark budget), identifying which internal teams and individuals will work on the execution, finding external resources to fill in the gaps, making a list of all the tools/technology at your disposal.
Stop for a moment and make a rough list of:
- A realistic yearly and monthly budget (ballpark it)
- Who will work on the marketing deliverables (name names)
- Any external sources you need (SEO company, B2B marketing agency, web designer, printers, etc.)
- The tools and technology you would like to use (Email automation, marketing software, lead tracking technology, SEO tools, etc.)
You are likely in your marketing role because you have creative ideas that really rock. To be honest, it’s time to set that aside slightly while you plan out the marketing strategy itself.
Be honest with yourself, your team, and your internal management and stakeholders. You may want to focus on your company’s blog and add 5 new blogs a month but consider who is going to do that. Even if your copywriting and marketing team has the bandwidth, will you be able to get access to the subject matter experts AND get approval to post?
You know your company best and what is realistically achievable. If internal stakeholders have unrealistic expectations for marketing, it’s time to have a frank discussion and let them know what is possible.
Review What Has Worked
You do want to focus on the future to craft a successful marketing strategy, but it’s helpful to know where you’ve been and what has, and hasn’t, worked.
If you have marketing analytics, look into the numbers. Consider these questions:
- Where do most quality marketing leads come from?
- What marketing materials get the most use from the sales team?
- What channels have had positive results? Email? Social? Direct Mail?
- Have there been recent campaigns or initiatives that flopped?
- Have you properly measured your past campaigns and initiatives?
- Did the right team members or experts work on the right initiatives?
- Do you need help or advice on what works and doesn’t work?
This exercise doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but it should take about 30 – 40 minutes to look over what has worked in the past. It will also involve talking to your sales or service delivery teams to get their feedback. In many cases, it may be a surprise. You see that 10 calls come in a day from prospects, but sales may think those leads are in the discovery stage whereas they see the 2 – 3 website leads as gold!
Have a Strong Foundation
Even if your B2B marketing strategy will focus on off-line activities like trade shows, promotional events, or direct mail campaigns, it’s essential to have a strong foundation: A professional B2B website.
Your company’s website is often the hub of all marketing activities. B2B buyers will go to your website to research your products and services before even reaching out to a sales rep. Plus, you often funnel people to the website to complete forms, send them there to get more information (like contact info), share helpful information to explain your products or service, and include your website url on all marketing materials, to name a few ways your website is a hub.
If your B2B website design doesn’t project the right brand, include accurate information, and create a great first impression for prospects, it’s time to include a redesign in your marketing strategy.
Design a Flexible Strategy
Now that you’ve done your homework, you are ready to outline your strategy. As you lay out which channels you want to include (email, social, SEO, blogging, advertising, direct mail, etc.), build in some flexibility. The strategy is meant to guide your efforts and keep your marketing team on track to achieve your objectives. However, building in flexibility (e.g., identifying four blog topics when you plan to tackle two), enables you to remain nimble and adapt to anything that changes (e.g., surprise product changes, new service offerings or an additional tradeshow).
Write It Out & Share It
Whether you use a computer or draft your strategy using pen and paper, be sure to write it out. Clearly define all the activities you want to accomplish. For many B2B marketers, working on monthly activities that roll up to quarterly or yearly goals or vice versa works best. Be specific about what you want to accomplish it and when.
Here is sample one-month marketing strategy:
- Draft, optimize, post 1 blog each week
- Promote blog posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook
- Run a LinkedIn sponsored update for 1 blog post
- Create and send a monthly email newsletter
- Create monthly ad for monthly special/product
This is a basic marketing strategy, but is a good place to start. Once you have written out your B2B marketing strategy and finalized it, share it internally! Don’t let marketing be a mystery to your sales team, service delivery department, engineering team, or management. Share your strategy and walk them through the objectives and tasks. Answer questions and take their feedback seriously.
There you have it, a guide to take you through building a B2B marketing strategy from the ground up.