There are many reasons why B2B marketing strategies need to evolve over time, with everything from changes in customer behavior to advances in technology having an impact. But one basic principle remains - marketing is answering the question: ‘How are we going to take our product to market and get money for it?’
Traditionally, direct mail (sending out letters or other promotional materials in the post) to a large list of unsuspecting contacts, was all the rage. Nowadays, this tactic is rarely seen in B2B marketing plans. Instead, content marketing has come to the fore, being one of most effective methods for generating brand awareness and demand.
What has led to this dramatic shift in strategy is the way B2B buyers now behave. In the past it was much harder for them to access information. They had to rely on sales people, brochures, ads and other marketing literature, to gain an idea about the products and services on offer to them.
Nowadays, modern buyers have an endless supply of information at their fingertips, thanks to the internet. So, by the time they talk to a sales person they are often very well informed, having done their own research and assessed their options. Which is why content marketing is now king, as it provides potential buyers with the information they are looking for, helping businesses generate leads and drive new business.
Software like Lead Forensics can then turbocharge the process even further, by putting B2B companies in direct contact with their website visitors. It’s the final piece in the lead generation puzzle, where you have a customer-centric website, a marketing strategy that attracts lots of the right type of people to visit and tools like Lead Forensics that enable you to monitor and make contact with them.
The entire sales process has changed and when putting together a marketing strategy, these changes need to be recognized and understood. You need to decipher how best to work with them, whether you’re just starting out, or need to refine an existing plan.
So, what does a good marketing strategy for a B2B businesses look like? And what do you need to consider when pulling one together?
1. It all starts with having a goal
Without an end goal in mind you risk meandering along aimlessly, or lurching from one thing to the next with no clear direction. This will not lead to results.
You need to focus. Work out a set of marketing goals that are fully aligned with the overall goals of the business.
For inspiration and more advice on aligning your content marketing goals - from lead generation, to sales and your broader marketing tactics - check out: How to align your content marketing goals with your business goals
2. Next you need a plan
There will be certain constraints that you need to work within, the most common being budget and the resources you have available. Within these boundaries, you need to come up with a plan that maximizes your impact, achieving the optimum results for what you have to play with.
The best strategy to follow will always be one that you can follow through with. Here are some specific ideas, when you’re considering B2B lead generation strategies: The best B2B lead generation strategies
3. Get the basics covered
You need to have a customer-centric website and it should include at least one mechanism designed to capture contact information from visitors.
For more top tips on creating a great company website, see: What role can a website play in today’s B2B lead generation?
Email communication system
Email marketing remains one of the top marketing tactics in the world. Even if you don’t go for a fully-fledged email marketing campaign, at the very least have a plan for some form of email communication to go out regularly to prospects and existing customers.
This includes any form of marketing that happens in the real world and not online. For example:
Remember, never view your online and office activity in isolation. The most effective strategies will have lots of overlap, to ensure all opportunities are capitalized on. For more ideas, see: How to combine your online and offline lead generation efforts
Just because it’s easy to market to someone online, doesn’t mean you should forget about the physical side. Nothing will ever be as powerful as getting face to face with potential customers, and a physical piece of content can be a powerful tool. Even in today’s digital world, you’ll be amazed how effective sending out a hardcopy invitation can be, compared to a cold email.
SEO - search engine optimization
This used to sit firmly in the realm of website development teams, but is now on the radar of marketers and their broader planning.
Using up to date SEO tactics can help your website be ‘found’ on search engines. This will be easier to achieve, the more niche and well defined the area is that you are operating within. But whether your topics are narrow or broad, there are some basics you need to have covered.
A good starting point is to make sure you understand the concept of topic clusters and how to achieve results using them.
Pick at least one social media channel and aim to master it. This will take a time commit, or budget commit if you going to outsource it. One channel done really well, will often be enough, especially for small businesses. Choose one channel where anyone who is interested in your company, can connect with you and stay in communication with you.
4. Going beyond the basics
Once you’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to expand. Consider other broader or deeper marketing tactics you might use.
We’ve got you covered in this article, which outlines some of the best and most effective tactics around today: B2B lead generation strategies for the modern marketer
One final word of caution…
There are many ways to market your products and services. An important point to remember is that they won’t all work for you. That’s why it’s generally best to start small. Test and measure, analyze and refine, and build on your strategy over time.