When it comes to any type of success, you need a plan or a road map to help you get there. For B2B companies, creating a marketing strategy is a step that shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you have big goals for your company.
While marketing strategy development for B2B can take a lot of thought and effort upfront, it will ultimately help pave the way for your business’s future growth in things such as brand awareness, digital visibility in search, and potential sales. In this blog, we’ll dive into the fundamentals of a marketing strategy, and then unveil how to create one.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
To put it simply, a marketing strategy for any type of business, whether B2B or B2C, is the compilation of all goals and tactics into a long-term comprehensive plan. Its purpose is to help you weave marketing tactics and insights into a format that allows you to view and execute strategic marketing initiatives in a holistic fashion.
By looking at the bigger picture, you can better see and understand how all of the components of your marketing fit together, whether it be timing, topic, or tactic.
Types of Marketing Strategies & Marketing Techniques
Marketing strategies and techniques are usually unique to your specific business and industry. For example, if pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is incredibly expensive and competitive in your industry, you may opt to not use that method of marketing unless you have a large amount of funding set aside for it.
Alternatively, if PPC ads aren’t being utilized properly by your competition and you find there is an opportunity, you may opt to put a bulk of your marketing strategy into PPC. It comes down to the research you do before laying out your entire marketing strategy.
Additionally, it’s important to consider whether your plan should include only digital tactics, only traditional tactics, or a mix of both. This is usually dependent on your business’s industry, competition, and audience.
If you’re creating a marketing strategy with no previous marketing exposure, it may be best to test the waters in both digital and traditional tactics to get the best reach. This will allow you to experiment and gather better metrics on what worked and what didn’t for future marketing campaigns.
Digital strategies and tactics to take into consideration include:
- Content Marketing & Visual Content Marketing – A vital component of marketing, the copy and the types of content for your website or other campaigns is crucial to your success. You’ll want to make sure it’s written in a way that reads seamlessly to your customers. Helpful visuals that correspond with your copy may also be included in this (infographics, animated videos, photos to add visual interest, etc.). For a full overview of this marketing strategy tactic, take a look at this blog.
- Social Media Advertising – The success of organic social media posting for businesses has slowly depleted over the years due to social platforms de-prioritizing business page content in user feeds. However, that is not the case for business social media ads. While organic posting for businesses is mostly seen as a way to ensure your page appears active, advertising on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Pinterest has been proven successful in generating brand awareness and lead generation.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Not only does SEO ensure better search engine visibility for your website, but it also allows you to create a more solid foundation for long-term marketing strategy success. By implementing fundamental SEO tactics on your website and local pack listings (Local SEO), your site will begin to see higher quantities of quality traffic and new users over time. This means you’ll be bringing in users who didn’t necessarily know about your company before, which can contribute to an increase in new sales leads.
- PPC Advertising – This tactic, if set up and executed correctly, is a great way to see ROI and generate leads in a shorter period. PPC allows you to target your audience down to the smallest details, while also filtering out unwanted search queries. This allows your PPC ads to become more successful over time.
- Email Marketing & Automation – This tactic can be used in a few different ways. Traditional email marketing calls for sending regular newsletters, company updates, and product or service highlights to your audience via email. Email automation allows you to set up workflows that send specific emails to subsets of your email list audience as they complete a certain set of events. For example, you could send a product-related email or helpful guide to a user who visited a specific product page multiple times (showing their interest).
- Influencer Marketing – Over the years, this marketing tactic has grown rapidly as more and more users have begun to trust the people they watch or follow on YouTube and Instagram. By partnering with key influencers, you can promote your brand, products, and services more gently. When it comes as a recommendation from people your audience trusts, they may be more likely to purchase or use services from your company.
- Video Marketing – Some audiences respond better to visual cues, such as a video about your business, products, or services. Videos can aid in showcasing your unique value propositions and allowing your audience to get a better understanding of what you have to offer. Whether it’s a general video about your company or demos of products you sell, videos can be a great way to elevate your brand and connect with users.
- Internet Radio Advertising – Does your audience utilize modern music platforms like Spotify and Pandora? While internet radio audience targeting isn’t usually as sophisticated as targeting used for social media platforms and PPC, it is still a useful tool to get your name and message in the ears of potential customers. It helps you reach potential customers across different channels and increases the chance they’ll recall your product or service.
- PR and Outreach – This tactic can start out digital and bleed into more traditional marketing. By creating items like press releases and partnering with other businesses and media outlets, you can increase your brand awareness and audience reach.
Traditional marketing strategies and tactics to take into consideration include:
- Direct Mail – Sending information to your target audience the old-fashioned way is still a viable marketing approach as long as it’s done properly. You can use direct mail postcards, brochures, catalogs, and more to boost brand awareness, run sales and promotions, and generate new business.
- Billboards – Target travelers in key areas around busy roads and highways with billboards. They can be a great avenue for advertising events and promotions, as well as generating overall brand awareness. While tracking the success of your billboard runs isn’t typically as straightforward as a digital campaign, if you tie your billboard ad to a website page, you can more easily see how it performs.
- Traditional Radio – Like internet radio advertising, traditional radio advertising places your name and message in your audiences’ ears. However, traditional radio generally has a larger footprint with less targeting. This may be a good avenue to test for general brand awareness and widespread event marketing.
- Guerrilla Marketing – This tactic forces you to think outside of the box. Guerrilla marketing makes a statement, whether it’s controversial, funny, or more professional. It allows you to capture your audiences’ attention by putting something in front of them that is out of the norm.
- Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Referral marketing is a great strategy that relies on your current or previous customer base to refer new customers to your business. If you’re lucky, you may already see some of this organically. However, if you don’t have a solid referral network or you want to enhance the one you have, you may think about creating a referral program for your customers.
- Event Marketing – If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, you may want to come up with a few events a year that bring in new customers. If a majority of your business is digital, you may want to think about partnering with local events and sponsoring them to get your name out there physically in the community.
Thinking holistically, you can also look into combining marketing strategies with a new brand or website redesign. Before you can market yourself effectively, you’ll need to make sure your branding is strong, your logo is identifiable, and your website is attractive and user-friendly. Those elements are the supporting hub for a lot of marketing tactics.
The Benefits of Outlining a Business Marketing Plan
If you’ve been researching how to get started with a business marketing plan, chances are you’re already aware of some of the benefits that come with it. However, some may surprise you!
Benefit #1: Becoming an Authority & Resource in Your Industry
By planning and executing a well-thought-out marketing strategy, your business will begin to grow authority and become a resource for your audience by association. Becoming an authority and resource in your industry is important for a variety of reasons, but can be summed up in the following:
- If you are the go-to authority or resource, users are more likely to flock to your business first before considering other companies.
- If you are continuously providing useful information and tools, users will view your business as an expert in the industry and will be more likely to trust your products and services and purchase or use them.
- Google bases some of its search quality guidelines on E-A-T, defined as expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Your rating on this may impact how well you rank in Google search engine result pages (SERPs).
Benefit #2: Growing Your Company & Towering Over Competition
Growing your company doesn’t happen overnight and you may be worried about strong competitors in the industry. By actively taking the time to research and audit not only your own business but your competitors’ marketing strategies, you will be able to discover opportunities for improvement.
This research usually is done before marketing strategy development for B2B companies actually commences, so you can build your plan based on the opportunities you see. Note what competitors are doing well and what they’re not, and use it to your advantage.
Benefit #3: Free Time to Focus on Other Important Areas of the Business
Once your marketing strategy is in place and you’ve begun working on executing it, a lot of the legwork will be done already. From there, depending on seasonality and initiatives in your strategy, you’ll need to monitor, tweak, and complete some set-up of delayed strategies.
Because you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every month to keep marketing running, you will have more free time to focus on other parts of your business that need attention. You’ll be able to be proactive instead of reactive, which is a crucial element of successful marketing.
Benefit #4: Better Budgeting & Forecasting
In terms of budget, some companies lack an independent set of funds for marketing. We highly recommend making sure your business has at least some budget set aside for marketing tactics, and then that funding can grow over time as your business grows.
Once you have a budget, you can make sure to allocate ad spend and dollars to specific marketing tactics and plan for any seasonality in business. Not only is this beneficial for you to look back on and see what worked and what didn’t to make tweaks to your year-over-year planning, but it also helps to minimize any unforeseen budgetary needs to keep you on track.
When the first year of your marketing strategy is complete, you can review what was spent, make adjustments as necessary, and start to forecast how much you’ll need for future years of marketing. This will allow you to get a rough forecast of budget even 2 to 5 years into the future.
Benefit #5: Gather Better Data for Future Marketing & Decision-Making
When it comes to business, you already know that informed decisions are the best decisions and ultimately result in better outcomes. If you have a marketing strategy written down and laid out, you will be able to pinpoint any turn of events, successes, or downfalls in the plan. This is also helpful for any future decision making, since you’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t.
How to Create a Marketing Plan for B2B
Ready to get started? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a marketing strategy for your business.
- Research and audit your company and your competitors. Define:
- What your company does well
- What your company does not
- What your competitors do well
- What your competitors do not
- Where the areas of growth and opportunity are
- Define all your goals, including ones that do not seem like they are marketing goals. You can align your marketing tactics to help meet those goals, regardless of whether they are considered “marketing goals.” Consider objectives such as:
- Creating better brand awareness
- Promoting specific sales, products, or services
- Increasing event attendance by X%
- Generating X% more traffic to your website
- Generating X% more leads (or sales) for the year
- Identify your audience(s). To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to be able to talk directly to your main audience and target them. Depending on your business, you may have one or more target personas.
- Ensure your branding is solidified. Consider the following questions:
- Do you have a brand voice, complete with consistent messaging and tone?
- Do you have a style guide for any creative you’ll need to make to ensure everything is cohesive and on-brand?
- Is your logo consistent and recognizable across all platforms?
- Layout your marketing benchmarks. Collect current data so you have something to compare it to a year down the line to accurately prove success. Identify your KPIs so you know what to look for as you evaluate success.
- Consider what phase of marketing you’re in. Does your company have any history of marketing? If not, start with the basics. If you’ve been marketing for years and are more established, creating a more complex marketing plan will be your best bet. We recommend following RICE or RACE, which details the marketing phases known as Reach, Influence / Act, Convert, and Engage.
- Pick and choose the marketing strategies and tactics that are best suited to meet your goals. This could be any combination of the strategies and tactics discussed earlier in this blog. Thoughtfully choosing your tactics is crucial, because it will dictate your next year or years of marketing.
- Consider timing and topics, laying out your strategies and any budget that goes along with it. It may be a good idea to use a month-by-month format, especially if you plan on presenting your marketing strategy to leadership. While timing is usually a factor when it comes to business seasonality, topics are really determined by your overall marketing goals.
- Flesh out the details. Answer the following:
- What resources (software, expertise, and talent) do you have available?
- Who will be working on each marketing piece and how will you ensure it gets done?
- Do you need to outsource to a third party?
- Do you need any additional dollars to complete your entire strategy?
- How will each marketing tactic work in tandem to meet your goals?
- Get approval and begin executing!
- Evaluate periodically. We recommend reviewing your data monthly to ensure you know what’s working and what’s not, so you can make some tweaks as you go.
Tips For Developing Your Business’s Marketing Approach
Become Inspired by Other Businesses
Creating a marketing strategy from scratch can prove to be difficult. Sometimes, it’s best to look at examples of other B2B marketing strategies for inspiration! Here are a few companies that we’ve worked with across multiple industries that have created and executed a marketing strategy with Tower:
Consider Your Presentation
If you know convincing leadership to invest in marketing is a hurdle to overcome, it may be best to start considering your presentation early in the process. How will you frame your marketing strategy in a way that they will understand its importance and accomplish both their goals and yours?
This may be a great opportunity to partner with a third-party marketing company like Tower. Not only is outsourcing a great investment in a long-term partnership, but it also allows you to have expertise on your side. Agencies can provide you with all the knowledge and proven results you need to make sure your marketing presentation is both accurate and convincing.
Know Your Limits
In that same vein, outsourcing is a great option if you don’t have a large marketing department (or any marketing department at all) to help you execute the marketing tactics you have in mind. An agency can become an extension of your business and team without having to recruit or find staffing of your own, saving you time and money in the long run.
You can also able to pick and choose what your agency assists you with. If you can complete some of the marketing tactics in mind, but you need assistance with X, Y, and Z, an agency can take care of that for you to supplement any limited resources or knowledge.