Moving from tactical to strategic B2B marketing

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1 Moving from tactical to strategic B2B marketing

2 Introduction The definition of Marketing is The Management process which identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements efficiently and profitably. 1. But in a vast number of businesses and marketing teams, the meaning has gotten lost. As more and more marketers are measured on the number of leads they provide to the business, and are having to constantly justify their existence to finance and other departments, marketing has become focused on lead generation rather than identifying and anticipating customer needs and subsequent lead development. Tactical campaigns are sent out ad-hoc to generate leads and show the business that marketing is contributing and therefore valuable. For the most part this approach might even deliver some of your KPIs so is the hype surrounding strategic marketing justified? Is tactical marketing really so bad? 1. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) What s your biggest marketing challenge? 39% of B2B marketers cite a lack of ability to stop executing and think strategically as their biggest marketing challenge. 2. Mass marketing overshadows small opportunities with bigger value 2. B2B Internet statistics Compendium January

3 Tactical marketing in a nutshell While it is sometimes true that tactical marketing can help you meet your monthly targets and maybe even get some kudos from your team, it falls short in many respects from delivering the best returns for your efforts and budget, to job satisfaction and progress. There are many reasons for this. In the aim to get as many leads as possible, marketing teams focus on the size of their database rather than the quality of the prospects in it. Audiences are overloaded with multiple campaigns; each with a different message hoping one will resonate with the audience and generate a lead. Some marketers will even manage to do this relatively well using thought leadership and multi channel marketing, since B2B audiences respond well to these types of campaigns and marketing tactics. However, this hit and miss approach is potentially damaging for your brand, and even if a customer has downloaded a whitepaper on The future of B2B Marketing for example, it doesn t mean they are ready to buy your products and solutions. It simply means that they are interested in where your marketing is taking them. Likewise, an audience may like the informative series of whitepapers, webinars, guides and videos that you send, but have no idea what you do. With so much focus on the marketing execution, marketing teams are missing the biggest and most important part of their job identifying the right market, understanding their audience in this market, and sending the right message to the right person. Moving to a strategic marketing approach corrects this. 3. B2B Internet statistics Compendium January 2012 Acquiring leads was the top strategic priority in 2011 for more than half (55%) of B2B organisations surveyed compared to 39% that wanted to better understand their customers/audience. 3. So even though you might be quite good at generating leads, most new leads are not ready to engage. When a sales rep then tries to contact a lead before he or she is ready, it reinforces the general impression that marketing-generated leads are no good. Sales subsequently stop following leads up as they are poorly qualified, so choose only the ones they think could deliver big. But size isn t everything and small opportunities that could have bigger lifetime value risk getting ignored and snatched up by competitors. 3

4 Strategic marketing what s it all about? Strategic marketing is a more structured approach where you define what you re trying to accomplish, understand the markets and audiences, and implement an integrated marketing program. By doing so, you can educate and qualify prospects over time to build a continuous stream of sales-ready leads that will turn into long-term profitable relationships and ultimately drive improved return on investment. Shifting your focus and effort away from mass marketing campaigns to ones that nurture customers along a marketing funnel, allows you to learn more about your prospects. Myth: you need a large system to manage your customer data In reality, a smaller, defined targeted list of quality prospects can often be managed within Excel or MS Access. By identifying who responds to what, you can begin to create a picture of what challenges they are facing. This allows you to send more effective campaigns based on their interests, keeping them engaged, so when they are ready to purchase they are already warmed up and much more receptive to your product messaging. Understanding your customers and giving them the opportunity to engage more closely with you makes your role as a marketer more satisfying. But what exactly does this involve? A defined, targeted list of quality prospects has greater value 4

5 4 steps to setting up a strategic marketing campaign Step 1: Identify your market Once you have defined your business objectives, you ll need to identify your market. Firstly, establish the opportunity to increase share of wallet within your existing customer base. Using a single customer view, you can understand how many unique customers you have across your business/es, how many have relationships with all your products, and how many have just one product? You can then use product opportunity and potential models to establish what opportunity there is to increase your share of wallet. Secondly, you need to understand your prospect pool by matching prospects to existing customer traits. By understanding the difference in customer profiles from those who purchase just one product to those with multiple relationships and different spend patterns, you can determine their propensity for your products and calculate likely spend and purchase frequency to see who are the most valuable prospects. Step 2: Understand your audience Just under two-thirds of B2B companies say they know or understand the prospects they are selling to well (41%) or extremely well (20%). 4. This leads to targeting just one person in a complex decision-making unit, or targeting several people within the same company with the same message rather than identifying, anticipating and satisfying each individual s requirements - from the main user to the gatekeeper and IT to procurement. This is compounded further by the complexity of B2B data, which is inherently different from B2C. Job titles are inconsistent, people move jobs or change position, and you might need to target different people within the same organisation using different messaging to do this you need to understand the ins and outs of a business, including their decisionmaking unit. But where do you start? Structural characteristics: understanding a company s sector, the size of the company in terms of employees, turnover, or even balance sheet, and their locations will help you understand their challenges and which products could be most relevant. Complexity measures: finding out whether a company is registered or a sole trader, whether it is part of a corporate group or is independent, and establishing the number of sites and their geographic dispersion, will help you get a better understanding of their decisionmaking unit. Behavioural characteristics: identifying international activity, the age of a company, its generosity, and in the case of small companies, certain owner characteristics such as age and wealth, can all help you predict how a company conducts their business and makes purchasing decisions. Performance measures: seeing a company s financial strength, peer group performance and growth, will help you understand the potential a company has to invest. Understand the person speaking to your customers to ask them how your products fit into their wider role and using this insight to create persona groups for them, allows you to create content that fits those needs. It also means that you can use marketing channels that your target is most engaged with. 4. Demandbase, 2011 National Website Demand Generation Study, September

6 Step 3: Develop a long-term lead nurturing strategy Lead nurturing is not sending out an e-newsletter on a semi-regular basis, randomly calling leads every six weeks to see if they are ready to buy, or blasting your entire database with a new case study. Unlike the consumer world where we buy emotionally and post-rationalise afterwards, in business we purchase products and services when we recognise a need or problem. Once we ve identified this we normally need to get buy in from various stakeholders and put together a business case, particularly for high value products or solutions. By developing a long-term lead nurturing strategy, you can start building a relationship with a series of useful, relevant communications nurturing these customers. So when they become aware they have a need, your communications are ready to give them the answers and drive them down your marketing funnel to deliver sales ready leads. Ask yourself the question, would this be of interest to someone that never bought a single product from you? Stage 2: Consider If they respond to stage 1 you can start gently moving them down the marketing funnel by showing them the steps they need to go through to fix the issue. This isn t your product sell as that s only part of the answer and content should be closely related to your earlier communications and include a clear call to action! For example, a How to webinar or step-by-step guide work well. Stage 3: Buy If they respond now you can demonstrate how your product and services could help them apply the fixes. Product overviews, demos and case studies are ideally suited for this stage of the campaign and are the final jigsaw piece prior to a sales call. If they respond, they re sales ready! Don t be put off if they don t respond straight away, just keep nurturing until they are ready. A successful lead nurturing campaign is consistent and integrated across your selected mediums. It is therefore important to keep your branding and messaging consistent. You only want one message to stick with your consumers - prospects should be able to scan your and see the value within seconds. If you can t keep it consistent, short and relevant you ll quickly become irrelevant in the minds of your audience. So what are the different stages of a lead nurturing campaign? Stage 1: Awareness The aim of this communication is to educate prospects using thought leadership content. If it s relevant, they could recognise an issue in their business to trigger a need they weren t necessarily aware of. Guides and whitepapers, for example, work particularly well here. According to MarketingSherpa, B2B organisations on average allocate just 6% of their marketing budgets to lead nurturing, while 12% is allocated to marketing. 5. Sending a series of s promoting your latest case study or products is more likely to result in an unsubscribe than a sale! B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, MarketingSherpa, August

7 Step 4: Monitor your results Although monitoring is the final step in implementing a strategic marketing approach, the process is in fact ongoing. Different mediums and content will work for different audiences and campaigns, and through trial and error, you will be able to make the necessary adjustments along the way to optimise your results. Tracking your progress will allow you to see what is working and what isn t so that you can update your communications as things change. Monitor clicks and see what content pieces resonate better with your recipients. This will allow you to improve your understanding and improve your lead nurturing campaigns further down the road. Your industry isn t static and neither are your offers by testing, evaluating and fine-tuning your lead nurturing campaigns on a regular basis, you can keep them relevant and interesting. The return on investment Marketers who use a strategic approach to understand their audience s needs bring in significant long-term value to their business and their job role. Revenue forecasts are likely to be more accurate and having a smaller list of high quality prospects allows you to send fewer, high value campaigns that generate more revenue over a 12-month period. You can also set up warmer sales conversations, strengthening your relationship with sales and ensuring that you work together to maximise revenue share from every lead revenue that feeds back into your annual sales figures. Research shows that companies successfully using lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead. The percentage of marketing generated leads that are ignored by sales is also reduced from as high as 80% to as low as 25%. 6. Strategically planned s also have a slightly higher unsubscribe rate than tactical sends. While this can be viewed as negative performance, it actually indicates that a strategic approach is doing its job of qualifying leads and eliminating people who are not interested in your business or your solutions. Only the most engaged leads will move down the marketing funnel and can potentially turn into great new customers ensuring your time, resource and budget is well spent. 6. Marketo, Forrester, CSO Insights, and others Handle your prospects with care to drive profitability Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead. These companies also reduce the percentage of marketing generated leads that are ignored by sales from as high as 80% to as low as 25%. 7

8 Getting started Although moving from tactical to strategic marketing may sound like a challenge, it doesn t involve making lots of big changes. It s really just enhancing and optimising what you re already doing to be more effective. One of the best places to start is to focus on your existing database, understanding where the value opportunity is and introducing more regular engaging content into your plans to start building trust and credibility. By understanding who your target audience really is and what is important to them, you can put together a strategy that gets more qualified prospects to call, reduces your sales cycle, and increases your ROI, making the benefits of a strategic marketing approach far-reaching. To get help identifying your markets and understanding your audience, contact us at 8

9 Riverleen House Electric Avenue Nottingham NG80 1EH T: 44 (0) Experian Ltd. All rights reserved. The word Experian is a registered trademark in the EU and other countries and is owned by Experian Ltd and/or its associated companies. CD /06

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