Loredana Niculae is the CEO of NNC Servicesthe leading marketing automation consultancy for B2B technology companies.
In my team’s quest for a business-to-business marketing strategy that generates a high return on investment, we went through many technologies and frameworks. Some frameworks were quite common, while others were not as well known but were effective. We’ve gone through B2B corporate marketing frameworks to marketing frameworks used by small IT startups. We’ve made sure every framework has been thoroughly reviewed and put to the test.
As we explored a digital marketing strategy framework for ourselves, our clients and our clients, we realized that the existing strategies work at the macro level, but as I mentioned in a previous article, annual plans are often outdated these days. That’s why my team and I combined the best methodologies and developed a step-by-step framework that can help you plan and implement your B2B marketing strategy.
Analyze your market.
One of the first steps in adopting a B2B marketing framework, a step that is often overlooked, is to conduct a market analysis with a high emphasis on competitive assessment and benchmark positioning. I have found that only by focusing on and understanding your market, major players and niche opportunities for positioning and dominating key market segments can you ensure success and high return on marketing programs, even if the other components are run modestly. .
Some strategic considerations that can help you get started and win against the competition include:
• Identifying your market potential, competition and alternative offers in the market.
• Assessing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
• Assess your competitors’ channels to go to market, digital assets, traction, partner channels and current market segments.
• Ask yourself who your direct and indirect competition is, and what are they doing well or what could they improve on?
• Identifying good benchmarks for your marketing strategies, tactics and activities.
Align and motivate your B2B sales and marketing team.
Ground zero in your marketing program should always be to set strong goals. Goal setting is another step that is often overlooked or mishandled in marketing planning. Your goal is like a moving target in the new agile B2B marketing world we live in. When setting marketing goals, using a ‘SMART’ framework can be helpful. You can also use reverse funnel analysis to build your marketing roadmap. This will help you visualize your goals.
To get started, you first need to identify your company’s top priorities and trickle them down to responsibilities. A SWOT analysis is a great tool for determining which strategic business needs to address first. This analysis evaluates your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. I’ve found SWOT analysis works best as a group exercise because it allows both sales and marketing teams to collaborate, assess, and come up with realistic goals. It can be helpful to collaborate with other departments (especially sales) to gain new insights into what is strategically important.
Once your marketing goals have been established, perform a reverse funnel analysis and identify key performance indicators and objectives and key results. Tracking and measuring progress toward goals is another important aspect of goal setting.
You can then motivate your team by redefining the future vision for your service or product in five to ten years, the desired future result and what is the driving force towards this result. Plus, you can get excited about the market potential and trends if you understand where your market is headed.
Identify your target market.
As a B2B marketer, this should also be one of your first priorities when applying a marketing framework. To identify your target market, create a profile of your ideal customer – the buyer persona that your marketing efforts will focus on.
Understand your buyer’s journey to learn how to best deploy specific tactics, such as email marketing or content marketing, on the optimal marketing channel. This ensures that your pipeline uses effective marketing from the prospecting stage to turning existing customers into repeat buyers.
Make use of inbound and outbound strategies.
Further develop your B2B marketing strategy framework into tactics and actions that effectively reach your target audience with a targeted marketing campaign.
Most marketing frameworks focus on inbound or outbound marketing. Inbound marketing means building awareness through relevant content and triggers that will draw ideal customers to your door. It may seem that producing quality content and digital presence resources should be your marketing focus zones. In fact, I’ve found that inbound marketing efforts only pay off if you leverage content through search engine optimization, social media marketing, and other channels to drive brand awareness.
Outbound lead generation methods will focus on identifying and chasing high-ticket customers in their own territory. Usually, more time-saving but more expensive, account-based and outbound marketing is best when supported by inbound and vice versa. For example, in ABM, if you track data about your top account influencers through a social network like LinkedIn, you can add a paid remarketing campaign so that those contacts are exposed to your brand more than once and stay top of mind when it falls under the category of solutions your company offers. This helps build brand awareness on top of the outreach efforts. Similarly, you can use Lookalike Audiences to expand your target account lists with similar profiles that are just as valuable as the profiles in your list that you may not have known about.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, “80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will take place through digital channels.” This tells me that the effective marketing strategy combines SEO, search engine optimization and pay-per-click through not only Google but also through social media channels.
Remember that the best marketing framework is the one that meets the needs of your business. Different companies have different requirements, so it’s important to select a framework that works well for the specific business opportunity or challenge. Combine your efforts with applied case studies, good KPIs and benchmarks.