B2B marketing strategy isn’t the simplest topic to cover. It involves many moving pieces. From your business goals and the why you’ve selected them, to choosing the types of content you’ll create and when to publish it. But one thing’s certain, without a B2B marketing strategy, success isn’t predictable. In fact, it becomes harder to know what to do next, especially if you’re struggling to generate the results your brand needs to grow.
To help you get a firm grasp of strategy, we’ll cover 4 elements that your brand needs. We’ll show you how an acute understanding of your buyers can be used to positively influence sales and explain the importance and setting realistic goals and tying them to the right metrics. We’ll also cover what your execution plan should include as you start implementing your strategy, and what kinds of content you should consider creating to position your brand for success.
Before we get into all that, let’s define the term “B2B marketing strategy.”
4 Elements of a Successful B2B Marketing Strategy:
What is a B2B Marketing Strategy?
B2B marketing strategy is the systematic approach to planning and achieving business goals through marketing initiatives.
This includes conducting regular research. You must know and understand your market. This includes track competitor behaviour and developing a strong sense of who your buyers are and how to best align position your brand for success.
1. Understand Your Buyer
All the marketing you’ll ever perform for your brand is based on your buyers and what they need. It’s all about positioning your brand and solutions in a way that most resonates with your ideal customer to help them take the next step along their buyer's journey.
Thing is, to understand your buyer, you’ve got to spend time learning about them. You need to know who they are, what challenges they face daily, what they aspire to, what they want out of a solution like yours, and what they won’t settle for.
Sure, demographics matter as well, but the really smart marketers are turning to psychographics to form a more complete image of who they are selling to.
For example, research shows that the average B2B decision panel includes multiple participants. While this is interesting information to have, stronger and more valuable information would be to know what role each participant plays in the decision process and what information you need to present to them to get buy-in.
B2B sales processes are also longer than that of B2C sales. In fact, the length of a sales and marketing cycle is directly proportionate to the complexity of the solution you are selling. So, once again, knowing who you’re marketing to and what moves them will help you build stronger and more impactful marketing material.
2. Set Goals and Identify Metrics
There’s nothing more powerful than setting a goal. And when it comes to business and marketing, identifying what you’re going after makes it easier to align resources to achieve your goal.
Marketing goals should be directly linked to business goals. In the B2B sphere, you can aim to generate more awareness, leads or sales for your brand. You can also create the support marketing campaigns and collateral to see those through.
But as you create your marketing goals, ensure that they are realistic. For example, if you’ve used paid advertising before and have always generated 10 leads for every $500 you’ve spent, the idea of suddenly generating 20 or 30 leads for the same spend is a little misaligned.
Sure, you could optimise your campaigns and creative content, but a more realistic approach is to consider all variables and possibly increase your marketing spend accordingly to see if you can generate better results.
What kind of metrics should you be tracking? It all depends on the goals you’ve set. When it comes to marketing, using funnel methodology helps demystify the entire experience.
For example, if you want to create more awareness for your brand, that’s a Top-of-Funnel activity. Here, you’re tracking metrics like page impressions, the number of inbound links your content is getting and the volume of traffic each channel you use is generating.
If you’re trying to generate more lead, you’re focused on Middle-of-Funnel activities. This includes growing email lists, generating more leads and closing easy sales. Metrics you’ll track include the number for leads captured, the growth of your retargeting list for paid media and click-through-rates for various offers you make.
At the bottom of your marketing funnel, you’re more interested in converting more leads into paying customers.
Goals include growing retargeting lists, increasing buyer frequency and nurturing buyers toward the sales. Some of the metrics to track are the volume of sales, your offer conversion rate, the average customer value and buyer frequency.
As you can see, having a clear understanding of your goals and the metrics that support them makes for smarter and more predictable marketing.
3. Create an Execution Plan
With intimate knowledge of your buyers and the goals and metrics that matter, it’s time to create an execution plan. You need to know what you’re sending out to market, why and when.
Your execution plan is, for all intents and purposes, your framework for managing daily marketing activity. Content creation aside, your execution plan is concerned with determining what types of content you’ll publish (blog posts and articles, videos, social posts, infographics etc,), where (your website, partner websites, video platforms, PR websites) and when you’ll share it (which days of the week and at what times), and how often (the frequency at which you’ll publish content)
All of these factors influence the success of your B2B marketing strategy. For example, if your goal is to generate more leads (MoFu), but you haven’t spent time creating any ToFu content or tracking related metrics, you’ll have a hard time. You won’t be able to feed your funnel or turn visitors into leads.
Your execution plan should take the form of a content editorial calendar. It should include a list of all types of content to be published along with dates and channels you’ll use.
4. Produce Content
Content is the fuel for conversations and activity around your brand. It’s responsible for attracting visitors, converting them into leads, and later paying customers.
But merely creating content isn’t enough today. You’ve got to be smart about how you position it. Research by Content Marketing Institute shows that B2B marketers consider a number of factors when creating content.
These include prioritising their buyer’s needs over the sale or promotion value a brand should exploit and delivering the right content to buyers at the right time.
But that’s not all marketers are paying attention to today. They are also focusing on storytelling and smart partnerships to gain more reach. Altogether, marketers have begun to pay closer attention to their buyers in a bid to generate better results.
What types of content should you create to support your B2B marketing strategy?
Your content mix can include:
- Video: webinars, adverts, how-tos, tutorials, demos, livestreams, social media stories, short films and documentaries
- Audio: audiobooks and podcasts
- Written digital content: blogs, articles, press releases, ebooks, guides, whitepapers, case studies, reports, fact sheets and slide decks
- Written print content: magazines, books and brochures
- Images: Infographics, charts, GIFs and photos
Which of these type of content works best?
While responses may differ from one brand to another, Content Marketing Institute found a definitive answer. Research shows that blog posts and case studies top the pack fo B2B marketing.
Blog posts and most written content is easy to consume. While video is growing in popularity, most brands have not completely committed to it. Video costs more to record and produce than outsourcing blog posts and articles to competent writers.
Another factor that influences the results is the speed at which blogs, articles, case studies and ebooks can be produced.
In the time it takes to storyboard a video, create a script, set up a recording studio (think camera, audio and lighting equipment), record and edit the video, you could have used the same budget to and produce 3 to 4 articles (if not more) from outsourced writers.
B2B marketers also rely on Google and other search engines for SEO rankings. Written content can be easier to rank over time, allowing you to spend less money promoting blogs and articles that already rank high in search organically.
B2B marketing strategy is essential for brand growth. It’s the systematic approach to planning and executing on marketing initiative geared towards generating positive brand growth. But to roll-out a successful strategy, you need to understand who your buyers are and set goals and metrics to measure your success.
You also need to create an execution plan that will guide your daily marketing activities and produce the right content to help feed the top, middle and bottom of your funnel