In B2B, most companies think their marketing strategy is sufficient when they know which marketing tactics will attract the qualified prospects needed to achieve their revenue goals. That is certainly important, but a marketing strategy is much more than just a lead generation plan.
So how do you know if you really have a winning B2B marketing strategy? Here are a few of the warning signs that your strategy might need some work.
Your brand purpose isn’t clear
Your brand purpose states what you stand for and is typically derived from your core values.
Defining your brand’s purpose is not an easy exercise, and it is clearly a strategic question. Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk to understand how great leaders inspire action when they start with why.
You can summarize your brand purpose in a couple of sentences, but branding experts will tell you that a powerful purpose revolves around a single word or idea. Consider these highly recognizable examples:
- Disney: magical
- Zappos: customer service
- Fedex: overnight delivery
Your business strategy is flawed
Building a marketing strategy on a flawed business strategy is like trying to build a house on a shaky foundation.
To determine whether you have a sound business strategy, refer to Gary Hamel, who believes that a real strategy must pass two tests:
- What you’re planning to do really matters to enough customers.
- It differentiates you from your competition.
In this context, marketing’s role is increasingly to help you listen to your customers and competition. In other words, you can no longer think of your business strategy first, then hand it over to marketing. Marketing needs to be actively engaged in formulating your strategy.
You don’t really know your ideal customer
About 20 years ago, knowing your customer meant defining and targeting market segments. But today, technology has completely revolutionized the field of customer behaviour analysis.
In particular, the Internet of Things and big data analytics are enabling companies to not only learn who those best customers are and what they do, but also why they do it, and therefore what they’re likely to do next.
Does this sound a bit far-fetched? It may be, but you still need to understand your customer’s journey. While some companies are tempted to make their own—false—assumptions, a better approach is to interview real customers and compile their responses in what are called buyer personas.
You’re tracking the wrong KPI
There is no shortage of marketing metrics these days. But just because something is trackable, it doesn’t mean you should track it.
Ideally, you should focus on two or three critical indicators that directly impact the business. Think of it as applying Pareto’s 80/20 rule to marketing. What are the top 20% marketing activities that will drive 80% of the results? Is it increasing the number of customers for a specific product or service? Is it increasing customers’ lifetime value?
Then, make sure that your team members understand these metrics so that they become the focal point of day-to-day activities.
You don’t have a clearly defined marketing budget
We could not say it better than Clayton M. Christensen:
You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy […], but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy. In the end, a strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it’s effectively implemented.
Look at any organization and you’ll see people fighting for a slice of the budget. While this is perfectly normal, you should resist the urge to invest in last-minute opportunities that will put you off your marketing strategy course.
Incorporating these key elements into your marketing strategy will not automatically guarantee success, but ignoring them will almost certainly lead to disappointing results.
So, if you’ve identified a flaw in your B2B marketing strategy, this is your chance to take action.
If you feel we’ve missed a critical aspect, be sure to let us know in the comments below.