B2B Marketing Strategy
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” This quote by Eleanor Roosevelt is a nice reminder about the importance of strategic planning. If you want a desired outcome, it’s better to invest the time to make it happen than simply wishing it will come true. This is certainly true when it comes to developing a B2B marketing strategy. We live in a world of immediacy. We all want results today. We convince ourselves that if we act fast, results will soon follow. Sometimes that’s true. But more often than not, it’s folly. When we move fast, we almost always cut ourselves short. We overestimate how fast we can execute. We neglect to set realistic expectations. We don’t build alignment between sales and marketing. The list goes on. Then, at the end, we’re left wondering what went wrong.
“By taking the time to create a strategic plan, we can avoid those bad “what went wrong” feelings.”
By taking the time to develop a rock-solid B2B marketing strategy, you can avoid those bad “what went wrong” feelings. More importantly, a strategic plan is the foundation for long-term success. If an organization has a product, service or innovation worth promoting, doesn’t it deserve to have all the resources it needs to be successful? When it comes to creating a strategic B2B marketing plan, there are four core essentials. They are:
1. Invest the Time
Strategic planning should never be rushed. The best plans are developed over time at a mutually agreed upon cadence. Proper time should be allowed for: Research and evaluation; input from others; generation of ideas; defining clear objectives; and making adjustments as needed. It’s a good idea to allow a minimum of 4 weeks to develop your plan’s first draft.
“The best plans are developed over time at a mutually agreed upon cadence.”
2. Be Collaborative
The strategic planning process should not be done in a vacuum. We’ve all seen it: The client gives the agency its desired goals. The agency goes off and works on the plan. Two weeks later, viola! The agency presents its plan. Where was the engagement along the way? Where was the validating? Where was the testing of ideas? Planning requires input. What does the CEO think? What about the VP of Sales? How about the head of Product Development? And what do your customers think? Create a planning process where all relevant voices have input. A collaborative approach will allow you get the best thinking possible. But it has other benefits: It creates trust. It creates buy-in. And it sets you on a journey everyone has a stake in.
This collaborative approach allows you to get the best thinking possible.
3. Have Reality-Based Conversations
Strategic B2B marketing plans need to be based on reality, not wishful thinking. This requires tough, but always respectful conversations. Reality-based conversations will allow you to validate, push back and question assumptions along the way. Of course reality-based conversations can’t happen without facts. You should take the time to conduct research and analyze information. Assumptions about what you think your customers want or who you think you’re trying to reach won’t cut it. Replace those assumptions with real information. All this takes time and collaboration.
Assumptions about what we think our customers want won’t cut it.
4. Don’t Forget the Must-Haves
Every strategic B2B marketing communications plan should include the core items below:
- Objective: The primary, specific and measurable outcome that needs to be achieved. (Ex: Generate new sales of Acme product to $5 million by date X.)
- Strategy: The overarching approach needed to achieve the objective. (Ex: Position new Acme product as a technologically superior product to the competition that saves architects up to 20% and can be assembled in half the normal time.)
- Tactics: The specific initiatives needed to execute against the strategy. (Ex: Conduct media briefings with key editors and journalists; launch a series of educational webinars to explain how product works; create an influencer campaign with customers who’ve experienced the benefits, etc.)
- Target Audiences: The exact and specific audiences to target. (Ex: Vice presidents of procurement, senior designers, design principals, etc.)
- KPIs: The key performance indicators to measure success. (Ex: Number of qualified leads; qualified attendees registered for webinars; media impressions, new inquires to customer service; etc.)
Don’t let wishful thinking get in the way of your strategic B2B marketing plans. Consider these resources:
- Download a Checklist of Strategic Planning Questions
- Download a B2B Public Relations Plan Example
- Download a B2B Social Media Plan Example
- Sign up to get more tips and insights from our SC newsletter
If you would like assistance in creating a B2B marketing plan for your brand or product, please contact Matt Spaulding at firstname.lastname@example.org.