Marketing Strategies for B2B
Marketing is much more than promotion or websites
For marketing to be effective, you need to make strategic decisions about target markets, products and services, differentiation and positioning, pricing, and sales & distribution. Marketing involves a lot more than advertising, promotion, websites, and lead generation. It is not difficult to spend lots of money on these activities, commonly called “marketing”. But, is it working?
Strategic Approach to B2B Marketing
For more than 18 years we have been creating marketing strategies for small and mid-size B2B firms. Let us help you develop and implement a marketing plan that makes your firm stand out and that fills the sales pipeline.
To do B2B marketing right, you have to start with the fundamentals. We like to call it “real marketing”, making smart decisions about which customers to serve, what to sell, and how to stand out from the competition. That’s what you need to be clear about before spending money on advertising and promotion.
What is Marketing Strategy?
Fundamentally, a sound marketing strategy deals with how to attract, serve, and keep the right customers. A marketing strategy defines the value proposition, key marketing messages, the target markets, what to sell, pricing, sales & distribution, and other high-level elements.
A 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. At the heart are these questions:
- 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?
If you don’t have clear answers to these questions your firm lacks a coherent approach to marketing.
As marketing consultants, we work with you on addressing these key questions to develop a competitive marketing strategy that sets your firm apart. Next, based on the formulated marketing strategy, we create and implement a solid marketing plan. The marketing plan is your company’s playbook for all marketing programs and activities.
Marketing Strategy Development
Developing a marketing strategy for your B2B firm involves addressing topics such as:
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Opportunities and threats
- Competitive Advantage
- Target markets
- Differentiation & positioning
- Value Proposition
- Products and services
- Sales & distribution
- Key trends
- Advertising & promotion
- Lead generation
Solid market intelligence is the basis of good decision-making. Decisions that impact your company’s ability to compete should be based on hard data, facts, and insight – not guesswork or wishful thinking.
Marketing Strategy Development Process
We use a proven process to create a competitive marketing strategy and an effective 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.
The marketing strategy development process consists of the following phases:
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
With the results from the Situation Analysis, we can now do a deep dive into the various market segments and the opportunities they represent. Also, based on sound data and comprehensive analysis, decisions are made about the best way to differentiate the business in the 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
With target markets selected as well your firm’s positioning, detailed decisions need to be made about what to sell, how to sell, pricing, etc. These are typically called 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".
Clearly, developing a comprehensive marketing strategy is a process that takes time and that involves many steps. Ignoring the process or rushing through it is likely to result in a flawed strategy.
Strategy Implementation – We Can Help
Once the marketing strategy has been fully defined, the marketing plan is created. The marketing plan is a detailed document about all the marketing programs and initiatives your firm is going to use to create awareness and attract and keep your target customers.
The marketing plan contains the specifics of the “what, why, how, who, when, and how much”. It’s your step-by-step playbook for all marketing activities.
The success of the marketing plan implementation depends on constantly monitoring the outcome of your marketing activities. Adjustments may need to be made due to changes in the economic climate, customer buying preferences, competitor activity, and so on.
With our experience as B2B marketing consultants, we support you every step of the way to make sure that you make smart, informed decisions about your company’s future.
Marketing Plan Implementation
Without skillful implementation, even the best marketing plan is worthless. Our management and planning support for marketing communications and lead generation focuses on keeping the implementation on track.
Working with your in-house staff and outside marketing agencies, we can serve as your project manager and liaison. In essence, we become your “eyes and ears”. This way you can focus on what you do best: running the business.
Don’t Need a Complete Marketing Plan?
Perhaps you don’t need a complete, fully fleshed-out marketing plan, but you want advice on specific aspects of your firm’s marketing strategy. We can help you 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