It’s important to understand the basics of putting together a multi-tactic, integrated campaign approach where you can begin to generate demand:
Don’t under leverage your website: Your customers always start shopping – looking around, inquiring, gaining knowledge, whatever – on the web. This includes your website! No matter how they find you, whatever channel or ad they use or come through, they will end up on your website. Having a fully optimized site is the core of your B2B marketing strategy.
Content for Conversion: Design your website content with the right information that people want to find. Research and analyze what they need. If you have the answer, put it on your website. Let them know you have the answers, because then they are going to automatically self-select to the next step of the buying process, which means they’re contacting you and essentially becoming a lead with high potential to convert. Content should be created for every phase in the funnel to align with where the customer is along the buying and decision making journey.
Paid Search Results: Start with paid search. Try Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other such platforms. When somebody is searching for an answer to something, you want to show up in the search results, right?
Go Digital: It could be TikTok for the young audience, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn for straight business deals, and of course Youtube because videos create an impact. Don’t overlook video ads on streaming devices (sometimes referred to OTT – over the top, or CTV – connected TV) because even B2B buyers spend a lot of time-consuming media in this way. Lastly, test out sponsored content, affiliate ads, and referral advertising.
Outdoor/ Out-of-Home: This is the stuff outside, like bus stop signs and billboards. It’s not typical demand generation because you can’t track the source but definitely a channel to generate potential customers especially if used in conjunction with other media. There are many ways to track these types of ads now if used in conjunction with geofencing technology.
Most B2B companies fail to reach their full potential because there’s a misalignment between organizational objectives and the marketing team’s objectives. Oftentimes this is due to not knowing capabilities – or not knowing what to expect from your marketing department.
So, when company objectives aren’t clear or when the marketing team isn’t in sync with those objectives, B2B marketing tends to fail.
Unfortunately, marketing departments are sometimes looked at as the end of the road. Companies go to the marketing department when everything else has already been figured out and when they finally need to put some message or material into the marketplace. That’s where all of this goes wrong – marketing is brought into action too late in the game.
The Culprits of Failed B2B Marketing
The responsibility of B2B marketing should fall on the shoulders of a few teams across the company instead of solely being the responsibility of the marketing team. If done correctly with a full integration of Account-Based Marketing, both the sales and marketing teams should take ownership in addition to some functions also falling on the shoulders of the tech and account planning teams. When this doesn’t happen and if the sales pipeline is not expanding and closing as it should, then there are a few key people to blame within the organization and time to recalibrate the process.
The Executives: Typically an executive in a B2B organization has grown up through the sales ranks or through the operations ranks and does not fully understand what a true marketing discipline can do for the business. Therefore, the marketing teams often roll up to a COO or are embedded within the sales department, and those individuals don’t know what marketing can truly solve. All of this brings down the marketing team to just putting out ads, focusing on brand awareness, and pumping out leads or helping the sales team do whatever they think is appropriate even if it’s not effective.
In order for this process to be sustainable and effective, there has to be full support by the Executives to ensure complete organizational alignment.
The Marketing Team: Marketing people can sometimes get caught in a matrix of doing what it takes to keep the business top of mind and also in a tug of war with sales and other departments to meet their respective needs. The result is that marketing tends to lose focus on on what they are solving for. The challenge with marketing is that sometimes the needs of the sales team are not well interpreted by marketing in a matter that would help them focus on revenue producing activities. What comes out instead is too much of a focus on tactics. The objectives aren’t on their radar; just the tactics.
Strategic Planning: The marketing team starts by designing a creative and compelling campaign instead of focusing on what that campaign is intended to do or solve in the first place. The objective of marketing isn’t just limited to just creating market appeal. The goal is to generate revenues and to make potential customers buy your services. Bottom line. Awareness is good. So is influence and publicity. But if the marketing campaign isn’t responsible for producing revenues, then it just becomes an expensive line item that yields little return on the marketing investment. Marketing must make a beeline for creating business impact in order to be effective. (Check out this post Is your marketing a necessary cost or a driver of growth)
If you want to build a brand that reaches customer acquisition objectives:
Know your business objectives: The first order of business is always to tie a business objective to your marketing objective. From a business standpoint, are you wanting to scale revenue, growth, or do you want to gain market share? Those are subtle, yet different; and they influence marketing strategies. The marketing objective should not be limited to building the brand or growing awareness and it should not have its foundation on communications impact. Marketing must result in increased revenues or sales. All of the other tactics are just bonuses.
Align with the sales objective: Is it reaching out to a set number of accounts? Is it engagement within those accounts? Is it bringing back life to dormant accounts? Is it getting into a new segment or industry? Is it knocking off an upcoming competitor? Marketing must singlehandedly work together with the sales objective in order for the results to have business impact. (Read: Restructure your sales and marketing for accelerated growth)
Everything circles back to your objectives. Your objectives help define your priorities and influence all work-related activities downstream.