The hard reality of B2B marketing
There are just so many ways in which companies convince themselves that spending time and effort in marketing is the same as achieving results.
Choose one simple metric to measure marketing and you will drive your marketing team to achieve that result.
Marketing is a complex process of engagement with customers, and demands multiple stages to be actively driven continuously. Whatever single measure you choose (from leads, to demand to closed business) cannot ensure continual success through all stages, and will drive your marketing team to focus on the one measure they are rewarded on. This guarantees inefficiency in marketing.
It worked for my competitor, so it will work for me.
Marketing is a cycle of continuous improvement. It’s fair to say that no integrated marketing program has ever worked first time or as designed. When you look at any single element of marketing it’s success was tied to many other elements including some that are very subtle. Nothing can be taken for granted
Believe the hype.
Marketing companies are good at marketing themselves and their products and services. Their goal is to get your business. So they will make results seem great, but how do they map to your business goals?
If I hire people from my admired competitor I will succeed.
Marketing is a team sport, when one person ran one tactic or even a whole function at a competitor and was successful, they relied on the people around them. If you try and replicate that one function in your business, then you will spend a huge amount of time and money and will not get the results you expected. Also ask yourself, why did this person leave my competitor, were they even a good fit there?
Of course sometime they leave because they wanted to take what they were doing in a different direction, and this might be great for you, but significant time and effort must be taken to really think through why you want this person or people.
Start with a budget.
If you give a marketing team a budget, they will find ways to spend it. Instead decide what you need to achieve, and look for the most cost effective ways to achieve it. Treat every $ like its coming from your salary. Marketing is about getting inside the mind of your customer and building a solid journey for your prospects, that takes brain cells first and only spend once you know you have a working model. Looking at % spend levels or historical data lets marketing people take the easy route to be busy, but does not guarantee the right results.
Marketing is a complex derivative model, a huge number of touch points is required to lead to a good set of results. Asking how much business an advert brought in directly misses the point. Every element of marketing can be measured, but in context, which means different measures on everything in the mix. The result can be that you spend a huge proportion of your budget on measuring too much. There is an art of measurement, but too much focus on micro measures will drive down the impact of your marketing overall.
Everyone knows how to do marketing.
Marketing includes a lot of creative areas, and everyone loves to get involved in the fun stuff. Every CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, sales lead and developer has been involved in a marketing role at some point in his or her career, even if it was peripherally. They remember that time earlier in their career fondly, and over time they remember how valuable they were in that role. So they know they can add value now. Marketing is a science and an art, and needs to be left to professionals. It’s a complex process, which demands dedication to detail, and a level of flexibility to quickly respond to issues and nuances in the mix. When everyone is involved the chance of success diminishes quickly. Treat marketing as a black box, put prospects and experts in one end, and see results come out the other. In between there is a huge amount of processes and work to be done. But in the same way as looking at everything a sales person does in building a relationship, and trying to quantify each lunch or golf game against a share of the return, marketing demands that you build a relationship with the prospect over time, building trust, confidence, knowledge of the customer and their needs. It costs to build a prospect and a customer.
All marketing is the same
Business to Business marketing is very different to consumer marketing. There is no person who through a persuasive evocative message you can get them to buy your product immediately.
B2B marketing is marketing to a group of different people across multiple business functions within a business. Some of these people may get emotionally involved in the process, some will stay very detached. These people need to be taken on a journey that coalesces with a sale.
The skills and mix of marketing used in B2C do not work for B2B, it’s that simple. But every university in the world who teaches marketing teaches B2C, with very few exceptions.
If you think you can sell a business a complex and expensive solution with billboards, print ad’s, viral campaigns then join the large club of over spending, under delivering marketing departments.
There are times when broad based marketing tactics can make sense in the B2B world, but they are rare. You need to deeply understand the buying journey your particular prospect base goes through. What business roles get involved, how do they get their information, what influences them? The more you understand your customer and get inside their psyche the more effective your marketing will be, and generally speaking the cheaper it will be as well.
If I build it, they will come
There has never ever (not even once anywhere!) been a B2B marketing campaign that worked perfectly initially. It takes tuning, and careful consideration of the way in which it is being received. Campaigns start as a flow of elements. Starting with finding prospects and in a creative and interesting way telling them about the problem that you are solving. Then you need to make them feel that this problem is both their problem, and big enough to demand attention. Once you have them they will look at all the ways they can solve this problem, and you need to ensure you are on their review list. Then they will invariably shortlist and you need to make sure your in that two or three. Then you need to beat the competition on that shortlist, and be the one. Then you have to show them that they are making the right decision and they are not alone.
This process is complex, potentially long and fraught with people either being contacted at the wrong time, or not being interested. You need to keep at it, pushing, pulling, tweaking and learning, with the goal of getting more and more people in the process, and getting them through all the stages. Most people will fall out, some will be worth reaching out to again and again.
Over time the process for each campaign is refined and starts to show results.
Woohoo , we launched, job done!
So you launched, patted each other on the back, shared a few drinks and gave the hardest workers their awards and gift vouchers.
For any campaign, be it a product launch or brand update or a demand generating campaign. The day of launch is when it starts, not when it ends.
The amount of work involved in getting something launched means that people are ready for a rest, but that’s exactly the wrong moment to stop. The day you launch is when the market first hears your ideas; it’s when the real work starts.
People inside a company often get bored of a message well before the market has even started to hear it. And prospects can sense this, they feel the tiredness in your voice and sense the lack of enthusiasm in your sales people. Launch is when the adrenaline must start to flow and everyone starts to being their A game faces.