What are the critical elements of a B2B Marketing Strategy?
B2B marketing requires a different strategy and approach to B2C. Your target audience is often smaller and more niche; sometimes, it can feel like it needs more effort to see results.
Depending on your industry, B2B marketing can require different tactics in order to reach your goals. Fortunately, we can learn from plenty of examples of B2B marketing done right. In this post, we’re going to look at some of the key elements of creating a B2B marketing strategy.
The 4 Elements of B2B Marketing Strategy
We’ve broken down a marketing strategy into four distinct steps that we like to call Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. Having a clear plan of action and understanding what success looks like are core elements that need to be considered from the outset, but there are other factors.
- Earth: Understand Your Audience - It’s essential to understand who you are targeting to convert. Without this, you won’t see any success - everything is built on it.
- Wind: Set Targets and Measure for Success - The wind blows you in the direction of your targets, but you first need to know what they are. What do you want to achieve? And how are you going to measure it?
- Fire: Plan, Plan, Plan - Your plan is like the fire that starts the whole process. Here, you’re getting your wood ready to light the spark. Create a project plan to ensure that everybody knows what they’re doing, and when they need to do it. Plan periodic reviews to check progress against target(s).
- Water: Implementation - Everything needs water to grow. Whether it’s creating content, working with PR teams, managing social profiles or anything else, this is where all your previous planning comes together and bursts into life.
Now, let’s look into each step in a bit more detail.
Understanding Your Audience
We said earlier that your audience is like the earth that everything is built on. It’s essential to any business, but you’d be amazed at the number of organisations that either don’t know enough about their customers or have outdated information. Your audience is the earth beneath your feet, and if you don’t truly understand your customers and who you are targeting, how will you position your organisation as the solution to their problem?
All your marketing activity must resonate with your audience and encourage them along the buying journey. HubSpot sums it up perfectly:
“The biggest determinant of effective marketing, […] is your audience.
If you’re not properly targeting your buyer persona, your promotions and advertisements will likely fall on deaf ears. You might as well not be marketing at all. Marketing to businesses is very different from marketing to individual consumers. That’s why an entirely different marketing method — B2B marketing — exists”
You need to understand the following about your customers:
- Who they are
- Job position(s)
- Experience level(s)
- Their triggers
- Their challenges and pain points
- Their needs and aspirations
- Their expectations of a product or service like yours
However, unlike B2C, the B2B sales journey often takes longer and can include multiple stakeholders with different requirements. This is why simple demographics aren’t enough and you need to understand the why behind people’s needs.
Set Targets & KPIs
Setting a goal is vital to any marketing campaign and B2B is no different. Setting clear targets with KPIs ensures that everyone knows what they're aiming for, and allows you to allocate and align resources to achieve them.
It’s important that your marketing goals feed into your overall business objectives. Examples of B2B marketing goals can include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Generate press coverage
- Increase site traffic
- Lead generation
- Improve conversion rates and/or increase sales
Once you’ve decided your marketing goals, you need to determine how you are going to measure success. The KPIs you choose will vary depending on your choices. For example, to increase brand awareness, you may choose metrics such as press mentions, links gained, impressions, online mentions, or social engagement. If your marketing is aimed at increasing leads or sales, then you may wish to measure website traffic, leads, conversion rates, sales, AOV or customer lifetime value.
It’s clear that these different types of targets will require different tactics to achieve. Put simply, it’s essential to know what you’re trying to achieve so you can decide how you’re going to do it.
Create a Plan and Stick To It
Now you understand who you’re targeting and what success looks like, it’s time to focus on how you will do it. This means creating a project plan with deliverables, timelines and responsibilities.
As a side note, it’s rare that time spent planning is ever wasted, so don’t skimp or rush this bit. Think of the 6Ps: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Your plan is your framework for ensuring that you hit your various milestones and that nothing gets missed. Typically, a B2B marketing plan would include:
- Content creation required
- Blog posts
- Social posts
- Press releases
- Imagery, video & audio
- Publishing dates
- Promotional activity
- When and where things will be posted on social
- Press release platforms
- Periodic review meetings
There are many ways to present this information, but given the need for multiple people to have access, a shared document is usually the best bet. Typical ways to present this include calendars, Gantt charts or kanban boards. For small teams with limited resources, a shared Excel or Google sheet might be enough.
However, tools such as Trello, Airtable, Zoho, Monday.com, Jira and Asana are very popular and can support multiple users.
Create, Create, Create
The fun bit. Content is what makes any marketing campaign succeed or fail. It’s responsible for attracting your customers, encouraging them to convert and eventually become repeat purchasers. Here, you’re adding nourishing water that allows your business to grow.
However, adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ approach isn’t enough in 2023. Research carried out by the Content Marketing Institute in 2019 demonstrated that the most successful marketers pay a lot of attention to their customers’ needs. For example, 90% prioritise the audience’s informational needs over their own messaging. While 77% create content for a specific stage in the conversion funnel, 81% prioritise delivering the right content for the right audience, at the right time and on the right platform.
Choosing the type of content will depend on your stated goals, but a typical mix could include video, audio, written content, print/offsite content, emails and images. The same research by the Content Marketing Institute found that blog posts and case studies were often the most effective for B2B uses, largely due to their ease of creation, consumption, and shareability.
It’s clear that getting your B2B marketing strategy right is essential to give yourself the best chance of success. Rather than rush things, plan ahead and consider your options. Set clear, realistic targets and ensure everybody on the team is bought in. Think about what your audience needs and how you can solve their problems. Do it well, and the results should follow.