Is B2B marketing becoming ever more difficult?
It isn’t easy being a b2b marketer these days. There has been a proliferation of channels and marketing options. Pressure to deliver ROI has intensified not least due to margin pressure in most businesses. Social media, content and video are the new black. Yet, is there a quick payback for social and content? Traditional methods such as direct mail, telemarketing and mainstream press advertising have become less attractive for some businesses. And, all the while, regulation intensifies. We have GDPR, PECR and every other acronym that, whilst that certainly moves us to a more consent-based society, makes marketing just that bit more challenging.
The Times, they are changing
In the old days, it was so simple. Advertise. Do some PR. Send a creative piece of direct mail. Make a call. Whilst that isn’t an exhaustive list of channels, we didn’t have the complications (or opportunities) that we do today. And, if you’re old enough to remember pre-internet days, that was also before the advent of websites.
Focus is crucial
Where should b2b marketers focus? Pull marketing has actually become harder. And, one might say, more expensive. Trade magazines had a key role in the past. Networking allowed you to engage more speedily with your target market since events, trade Magda and push marketing were the main ways you found out about stuff of interest. And, whilst events have perhaps improved the targeting you can achieve through the use of technology, that’s still an expensive way to market in relative terms for a few days burst of activity.
Cut through has become challenging
Cut through was easier. Stand out was more straightforward even though we complained about it. Now, I must point out here that I love technology. I am also a big advocate of content. We have over 350 blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics and other content on our website. And that has produced great results in terms of web traffic, enquiries and business with some huge well known clients. So, I’m not complaining albeit it has taken some time to achieve. 350+ pieces of content don’t happen by themselves or overnight!
Reach is hard to achieve
But, our lives as marketers have got harder despite great advances in targeting and profiling, marketing automation, networking having moved online (LinkedIn and the like). Where do you place your focus? How do you reach time poor decision makers for your products and services? How do you differentiate in a sea of competitors seemingly offering identical solutions? And, how do you get the best bag for buck when that buck only stretches so far? It’s a conundrum especially for those marketers who (1) aren’t actually students of marketing (2) are time poor themselves (3) have tight budgets (4) have lots of areas that really would benefit from some love and attention (e.g sales material, website, content development….) and (5) they need sales yesterday….
Of course, the solution will, in the main, be different for every business. The priorities will differ. Target markets differ. Budgets vary. The stage of development of the business won’t be the same. Status in the market has a bearing. And, the kinds of product and service offering will play a role.
So, what’s the solution?
It really is a minefield. So, what does a time and budget poor executive do? Ultimately, it starts with a plan.
It starts with the customer.
Who are they? What do they buy? What are their needs? Why do they purchase? If you can better understand your customer, you’ll be a lot closer to being able to sell to them.
Focus on data
Without good quality data, your marketing efforts will be literally wasted. That means time and money. That includes both marketing folk and your sales team that spend time targeting poor prospects.
Consider your products and services
At the end of the day, if you haven’t got something your customers want to buy, you won’t get far. But, often, it’s about positioning what you offer to their needs. It’s often about being visible since the are likely to be lots of competitors chasing the same business.
Work out the best channels against budget available
You will probably have a budget for sales and profit. That should be achievable but stretching. But, how are you going to deliver those targets? What budget and activities do you need to set aside? And, what channels are likely to provide best results. But, don’t forget that some activities are short-term and some are longer term. Some drive sales and leads tactically. Others build credibility and exposure that leads to you and your business being front of mind when a need arises.
Make a plan
You need a plan of actions and a process for reviewing progress. Blind faith is a bad strategy. Giving up too soon is also shortsighted. So, spend time doing a financial and marketing plan and set aside the funds to make that plan come alive.
There’s no time like the present
Inertia is your enemy. Your competitors are unlikely to be sitting on their hands. And, they’re targeting your customer base.
Marketing can be a minefield littered with failures. But, successful people have generally tried and failed until they find the thing that works. Take good advice. Research options. But, above all else, make the decision to increase your efforts to achieve your goals.
GSA helps businesses, large and small, become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns into the UK, Europe and further afield. Also, with our experience, we provide telemarketing training to help sales teams improve their results. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.