One of the hard things about B2B marketing is that there are a million and one things you can do.
It’s easy to do something. It’s hard to do the right thing. As a consequence, the sad truth is that most B2B marketing is wasted – not because it’s not good, but because it’s the wrong kind of marketing for the situation.
Doing good marketing in the wrong channels is like wearing an awesome tuxedo to a pool party. The effort you put in doesn’t matter as much as your understanding of the context.
So, how do you pick the B2B marketing tactics that’ll work best? In this article, we’ll lay out the answer.
Now, we’ve written on our favorite B2B marketing strategies before (the outcome was an eight-item list, and it was really only a small sample of the options that are out there). But that article was only focused on offering some good options. You need good options, but you also need a framework to pick the right option for your needs.
This is that framework. Let’s dive in.
1. Define your goals.
Before you invest in B2B marketing, you need to have marketing goals. This may sound straightforward, but more companies than you’d expect pursue marketing without a clear understanding of what they want it to achieve.
In other words, many goals aren’t SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely). Instead, they’re vague.
For example, many businesses approach B2B marketing with the goal of getting leads. But this can mean a lot of different things. Let’s say you’re a managed IT services provider. Do you want leads from anywhere in the US? Or are you focused on a specific city? Do you want to work with businesses of any size? Or do you want clients with more than 50 workstations? Do you care which industry a client is in? Or will you take anyone?
And how many leads do you need for your B2B marketing to be a success?
Or let’s say you’re a SaaS company and your goal is to build market awareness around your product. Does awareness mean getting a certain number of visitors to your website? Does it mean impressions across all marketing channels? Does it mean getting listed alongside the top products in your space in software reviews?
Many businesses don’t answer these questions, and so they start marketing in the wrong direction.
The way your goal is framed will determine the tactics that will be most effective in reaching it. So, the more detail you can provide around what success looks like, the better luck you’ll have with your B2B marketing.
2. Identify your audience.
Once you know what you want your B2B marketing to accomplish, you should gather information about who you’re marketing to.
Let’s go back to that IT services example. Say that your goal is to get 5 leads a month from across the United States, and a “lead” is a manufacturing firm with more than 20 workstations.
There are a few things you’ll need to know to choose the right tactics:
1. How big is your audience? If there are fewer than several thousand potential customers that fit your bill, you’ll have a hard time with pure inbound tactics like SEO.
2. Who’s the decision-maker? Are you speaking to an IT director, to a C-suite person, or to the business owner? The answer may impact what channels you target, and it’ll certainly impact your B2B marketing content.
3. What do they want? If you think that what they want is to increase operational efficiency but what they really want is get technology support off of their plate, your marketing won’t resonate.
4. How do they buy? Are they comfortable buying online and right away? Is the sales cycle a long one with multiple consultations? Will they pick up the phone or fill out a form?
The best way to identify your audience is to combine market research with buyer persona development. This way, you’ll have an understanding of what the B2B market looks like as a whole and what individuals want, specifically. By nailing down both, you can avoid going down marketing rabbit trails.
3. Reverse engineer from your goal and your audience to find your tactics.
Okay – you’ve got a clear, SMART goal, and you understand your audience. The final step is simple: Start from those points and reverse engineer your marketing to determine what tactics will be most effective.
For example, let’s say that your business sells LIMS software to medical labs. Your goal is to use marketing to drive 3 leads per month, and any medical laboratory in the US counts as a lead.
Based on your market research, you’ve found that there are around 200,000 medical labs in the US, and based on your buyer persona development, you know you’ll be targeting the lab manager. You know that lab managers prefer to trial software before using it, and that they’re comfortable doing so on their own, without a consultation.
All of this means that you can use inbound tactics – like SEO, search ads, and click-to-trial landing pages – to facilitate their buying process.
Basically, as you reverse engineer from goals to tactics, you’ll be creating the B2B marketing campaigns that they’ll be expecting to engage with. You’ll be meeting them where they’re at.
Bonus: Look at what your competitors are doing.
All of that was a little bit high-level. So, here’s something really practical:
Survey the three firms you think are doing the best in your industry, and research what B2B marketing tactics they’re using. Have they invested in SEO? Are they active on a particular social media channel? Go ahead and sign up for their email list – what kind of content are they sending?
Obviously, you shouldn’t rip them off. But you should take note of what they’re doing, because, if they’re successful, it’s probably working. And if they’re not doing something, there might be a reason why.
Combine your competitor research with your own intuition based on the research we’ve describe above, and you’ll be on an ideal track.
Need more help choosing your marketing tactics?
We get it – choosing the right B2B marketing tactics is hard. We can help. At New North, we have over a decade of experience helping top B2B companies reach their marketing goals.
And, either way, here’s to your success in doing good marketing on the right channels.