B2B Marketing Strategies Consulting
Marketing is much more than promotion or websites
Good marketing involves a lot more than advertising, promotion, websites, and lead generation. It is not difficult to spend lots of money on these activities. But, the question is, what is most effective?
For over 18 years we have been working as B2B marketing consultants, helping small and mid-size B2B firms improve their competitive position. Working closely with you, we’ll develop and implement a marketing plan that sets your firm apart and with a focus on generating leads and filling the sales pipeline.
Practical B2B Marketing Strategies
To do marketing right, you have to start with the fundamentals. We call it “real marketing”, making smart decisions about which customers to serve, what to sell, and how to stand out from the competition. You need to be very clear about these before you start spending any money on advertising and promotion.
What is Marketing Strategy?
Fundamentally, marketing strategy deals with how to attract, serve, and keep the right customers. It defines the target markets, differentiation and positioning, value proposition, what to sell, pricing, sales & distribution, and other high-level elements.
A sound marketing strategy has a lifespan that goes beyond any individual advertising or promotional programs because your firm’s value proposition and positioning in the marketplace should not change very rapidly over time.
As your B2B marketing consultant, our first task is to address the questions that are at the core of any marketing strategy:
- Which markets do we sell to?
- Which markets do we avoid?
- What is our differentiation?
- What is our Value Proposition?
- Which products do we sell?
- What price do we charge?
- How to sell & distribute?
- How do we create awareness?
Clear answers to these questions are critical to formulating a competitive and successful marketing strategy.
Marketing Strategy Development Process
Over the course of many B2B marketing consulting projects we have developed a comprehensive process for creating a sound marketing strategy and marketing plan.
In a collaborative approach, we work with you through each phase of the process, gathering information, conducting analysis, and carefully evaluating options. This all leads to smart decision-making to give your firm a leg up in the marketplace.
To help you understand how we work, let’s take a look at this process in some detail.
We start by taking a detailed look at the business itself (internal analysis) as well as the marketplace in which it operates (external analysis):
An objective review and analysis of your company's capabilities, products, strengths and weaknesses, and competitive advantages.
Sales & marketing, market share, brand awareness, financial resources, and goals and objectives are also considered.
The external analysis involves a comprehensive look at customers, markets, competitors, partners, suppliers, and the overall business climate.
In addition, emerging trends are reviewed to determine how they may impact the business.
This analysis also identifies opportunities and threats.
Marketing Strategy Formulation
Next, we’ll look at the various market segments that can be identified and the opportunities they represent for your firm. After a thorough evaluation, those target markets are selected that offer the best growth potential. Also, based on market insight and comprehensive analysis, decisions are made about the best way to differentiate the business in those target markets.
Trying to be all things to all people is a losing strategy.
Market segmentation deals with finding those customers who are more likely to buy from you, as opposed to prospects who are indifferent (or worse) to your product offering.
Detailed market segmentation is one of the most fundamental aspects of marketing strategy development.
In this phase the market segments are evaluated carefully on a number of factors such as market size, market growth rate, profitability, competitiveness, availability of substitutes, customer buying behavior, value perception, among others.
The goal is to find those markets that are most receptive to your offerings and that offer the best growth opportunities for your firm.
Having a clear vision of which customers to serve (and which not) is a fundamental aspect of a sound marketing strategy.
How do you plan to stand out from the competition? For instance, do you compete on the basis of price, technology, or customer service?
You can't be the best at everything. You have to make a choice about what to focus on.
The basis for your firm's competitive position in your target markets is determined in this phase of the marketing strategy development.
In essence, the Value Proposition is your firm's elevator speech.
It is a concise, compelling statement that clearly outlines what you're offering, to which customers, and why they should be doing business with you rather than the competition.
The Value Proposition is the cornerstone of your marketing messaging and helps customers, as well as your employees, understand what your firm is about.
Marketing Mix Decisions
Once target markets have been selected and your firm’s differentiation and positioning in these markets have been formulated, it’s time to make the strategy more tangible by looking in detail at what to sell, how to sell, what prices to charge and what to do about advertising and promotion. This is known as the classic “4 P’s” of the marketing mix:
Detailed decisions about the specifics of the products and services you're going to sell are made in this phase of the marketing strategy development.
On the flip side, this also means figuring out what you're not going to sell. It's all about focus.
This "P" of the Marketing Mix deals with how and where you're selling your products as well as product delivery.
For instance, you might consider a bricks & mortar operation or on-line, direct sales, or using distributors or sales reps.
The strategic importance of pricing products and services is often ignored.
If the price is too low, you leave money on the table. Price too high and you miss out on the sale.
Good pricing strategy is based on customer perceived value and has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Promotion deals with the more familiar aspects of marketing, such as advertising, PR, email marketing, trade shows, web site development, and so on.
It is important to identify the most effective and efficient promotional and lead generation channels given your target markets, products, and customers.
For firms selling services rather than tangible products, there are three additional “P’s” to consider:
In a services business, your employees directly interact with customers. Employee skills, attitudes, and behaviors impact the outcome of the service delivery and the customer's perception of quality.
You need to have a clear vision of what your employees need to properly serve the customer. You can't leave it to chance.
The actual services delivery process is a very important aspect of the outcome and what the customer perceives as quality service.
A clearly defined and properly documented process enhances quality and improves consistency. This benefits the service provider as well as the customer. In addition, a good service definition helps in training new employees.
The final "P" of the marketing mix deals with physical evidence or appearance of your operation. It's the "look & feel" aspect of your firm and the interaction with customers.
Depending on the nature of your business this can range from the appearance of your office, cleanliness, safety, the furniture in the conference room to your website, letterhead, and your delivery vans, and everything in between.
In other words, make sure that your business "looks the part".
The Marketing Plan, Taking Strategy Into Action
With the marketing mix decisions out of the way, we’ll create the marketing plan to put everything into action. The marketing plan details all the programs and initiatives your firm is going to use to create awareness and attract and keep customers.
Think of the marketing plan as your firm’s step-by-step playbook for all marketing activities. It contains details on the “what, why, how, who, when, and how much” of all marketing programs.
In addition, the marketing plan includes lead generation and sales forecasts and estimated ROIs of the various lead generation and promotional programs. By taking an objective, performance-based approach to evaluating marketing channels we make sure you get the most from your marketing budget.
If you need help with the marketing plan implementation, we can serve as your marketing project managers and liaison, coordinating between your in-house staff and outside marketing agencies, to make sure all activities stay on track. This way you can focus on what you do best: running the business.
In addition, we offer support for marketing communications and lead generation.
Don’t Need a Complete Marketing Plan?
If you don’t need a complete, fully fleshed-out marketing plan, but you’re looking for advice on specific aspects of your firm’s marketing we can help in areas such as:
- SWOT & PESTLE analysis
- Market segmentation
- Target market selection
- Industry analysis
- Competitive analysis
- Customer analysis and surveys
- Differentiation and positioning
- Value Proposition formulation
- Product and service definition
- Product portfolio analysis
- Pricing strategies
- Sales & distribution
- Advertising and promotion
- Lead generation strategies
- Go-to-market strategies
- Product launch planning