What’s the most critical job for B2B marketers? The answer is clear: To thoroughly research and carefully craft a highly detailed marketing strategy.
The task may sound overwhelming, but it’s not if you start with a tested framework. Forward Vision has developed a tried-and-true set of best practices, which provide the companies we work with the tools that give them a competitive edge. Let’s unpack the process into manageable steps.
Consider answering these questions when developing an accurate buyer persona:
- What are the pain points and frustrations your product will alleviate for buyers?
- Who already offers what you are launching? Is there a demand or is the market saturated?
- Through what channels will you sell? A website, an app, or a third-party distributor?
- Be sure to capture demographic data such as where prospects live, their age, education, and professional pursuits.
It’s important to be clear on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. B2C marketing focuses on encouraging people to make a purchase decision. These decisions are made primarily by one person and are typically lower-cost purchases. By contrast, B2B marketing strategy involves more decision-makers, has a longer sales cycle, and requires the use of different platforms such as SEO, content marketing, email campaigns, and various social media messaging.
1. Be very clear about who you are targeting.
Few things are more important than having a keen understanding of potential buyers. Developing an accurate, in-depth buyer persona is the foundation of any marketing strategy. Sometimes called the Voice of the Customer (VoC), it is the first step to successfully strategizing your marketing efforts.
By gathering data about prospects’ behavior through their online interaction and engagement, you gain insights into their behavior and preferences. In addition, customer interviews, email surveys, and web surveys are reliable ways to gather information. Several third-party tools are available that allow you to insert web surveys into your website and add post-purchase surveys to your e-commerce store.
Rather than simply collecting data, however, focus on understanding and continually re-evaluating it at a deep level. For example, if you know customers are having problems, it’s your goal to get to the root of these problems and identify their pain points. On the flip side, if you know where customers are finding enjoyment, find out why and capitalize on it.
It’s also essential to take a holistic view of the market to understand how your product fits into the entire ecosystem surrounding it. There are plenty of sad stories about inventors being awarded a new patent without any real need for it. Too often, insufficient market research has been done.
Typically, the buyer’s journey has three stages:
- the Awareness Stage, when prospects realize they have a problem;
- the Consideration Stage, when they define their problem and look for options to solve it;
- the Decision Stage, when they choose a solution. Your job is to understand your prospects fully at each of these stages.
We live in an always-on universe of digital information. A carefully crafted buyer persona allows you to cut through this massive communications web and reach your prospect at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
2. Align your company’s internal operations.
Alignment means every part of your company and every aspect of its operations are working in harmony toward a successful marketing strategy. The number one trap that can derail your efforts is the failure to proactively get all stakeholders involved, aligned, and on the same page. Because think about it: the heartbeat of marketing centers on addressing customers’ pain points, which naturally connect to revenue, profitability, product design, productivity, corporate image, workforce issues, and almost every other business goal.
The fact is, a successful marketing strategy is in alignment with every strategic business goal across the company. Done right, a company has drilled down into the customer experience, capturing hard-won insights and data that impact every aspect of how it operates. This is especially important in a new product launch.
Take, for example, one company where a product launch failed. Leaders thought the problem was either poor delivery times or lack of effort by the sales force. After throwing a ton of resources at the problem, they realized the issue in fact, centered on misaligned goals. The company’s product was priced to grow market share, but compensation for the sales force was structured on profit margin. The sales force had no extra incentive to sell the new product because selling other, higher-margin products aligned with their goals.
3. Create stellar marketing content.
In the B2B industry, the buyer’s journey can be long and complex, often involving multiple stakeholders along the way. This is why you need to identify what types of content will drive the highest level of traffic. Whitepapers, infographics, blogs, webinars, videos, press releases, and podcasts are just a few.
One key often overlooked in a marketing strategy is message mapping, the vital process of aligning content with where a customer is positioned within the buying cycle. Messages that are mapped to customers in Stage 2 are especially important. Messaging that is engaging and persuasive can fuel their decision, converting them from being just a “tire-kicker” to an actual buyer.
Think of good content marketing as salespeople who work 24/7 to help customers where they are and when they are looking for you. If you’re looking for a good way to focus your tactics to generate leads in this always-on digital world, consider building an integrated sales and marketing plan-on-a-page.
Compelling content and the message it conveys, connect with prospects in a highly personal way. It goes beyond simply working with a general customer persona to creating a more intimate relationship anchored in the buyer’s journey. It resonates at a deep level.
If some of your content is performing better than expected, double down on it. If something isn’t working, eliminate that tactic and focus on other tactics that may not have been tried yet. Don’t stick with your initial ideas or concepts if they aren’t yielding results.
Your content should be 1) Unique, highly relevant, and timely to the reader; 2) Engaging and informative; 3) Reader-friendly, well-structured, and error-free; 4) Optimized for search engines.
4. Launching a new product? Use a checklist.
If your strategy entails a new product launch, consider making a checklist that looks like this:
- Is your buyer persona complete and thorough?
- Are your company’s operations in alignment?
- Is the content supporting your strategy compelling?
- Have you considered potential mistakes?
A solid marketing strategy produces the best chances for your company to boost sales and profits. It’s as simple as that. Developing the process to reach this goal, however, requires knowledge and know-how. At Forward Vision, our experts have a deep understanding of every facet of the complex marketing world. Get in touch with us to learn more.