Adopting a strategy to guide your B2B marketing ensures that you make the most of your efforts. A clear strategy provides daily guidance in your approach to setting daily priorities. Unfortunately, some companies are reluctant to develop a marketing strategy because the concept sounds intimidating. In fact, you can make a great deal of progress with a simple marketing strategy.
Defining Marketing Strategy
A Marketing strategy is your company’s answer to the question, “How will we attract the interest of qualified prospects?” By attracting prospects who can benefit from your B2B products and services, selling becomes much easier. The three-part strategy is informed by Dan Kennedy, a noted copywriter and marketing expert. For this article, we will assume that you have already developed the product and have determined your pricing.
To illustrate our approach, let’s use the example of a company that sells industrial cleaning products online. In this case, the company has a strong track record using traditional methods such as marketing at trade shows and with sales representatives. To further enhance profitability, management has decided to open an ecommerce website. For this website to be successful, we need answers to a few common marketing questions.
Question 1: Who Is Your Target Market?
Marketing to every company in the world is extremely expensive and wasteful. That’s identifying your target market is an important step. In B2B marketing, there are two aspects to properly identifying your target market: company and decision maker. Let’s illustrate the principle by referring to the industrial cleaning product company example:
Business: Industrial Cleaning Products
Target Market: Oil refineries
Decision Maker: Facilities Managers
Once you have identified the audience for your marketing, you can create content and advertising that speaks to their concerns. For example, what are some of the concerns of facilities managers? Their goals likely include delivering a safe, legally compliant workplace at an acceptable cost. If your cleaning product was proven to be 5% cheaper than the competition or easier for cleaning staff to handle, you will have an advantage.
Question 2: What Media Will You Use To Reach The Market?
In 2017, there are many communication media to choose from. Options include traditional (e.g. direct mail, cold calling, conferences), digital (e.g. content marketing, email marketing, video) and beyond. To guide your decision on the right media to choose for your strategy, think through the following factors:
Budget. If you have an extremely limited budget – less than $10,000 – then direct mail and similar advertising methods will likely be out of scope for you. In cases where you have limited funds, you will need to look for creative ways to use your time, skills and creativity instead.
Speed. Some media are faster than others. For instance, you can put some online advertising efforts such as Google AdWords into action in a matter of hours. For B2B sales, you may want to look at specialized online advertising such as the LinkedIn advertising platform. In contrast, if you choose a content marketing approach such as blogging or podcasting, those methods often take longer to develop.
Focus. Some media offer greater degrees of focus than others. To continue our example from earlier, let’s say you are looking to market to facilities managers at oil refineries. In direct mail, you may be able to rent a mailing list of exactly those people – that would be an example of high focus. In contrast, if you market to a larger group of people in the oil industry, only a small fraction of that group will be facilities managers.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start by choosing a medium that will give you fast results so you can test your approach. In the case of facilities managers, you may decide to make ten personal presentations to these individuals in order to hear their questions and concerns in detail before you invest in advertising.
Question 3: What Message Will You Send To Them?
Now that you have made decisions about target market and media, the next decision concerns the copy and offer. The offer describes the product, price, terms and related points. The copy describes how you communicate the product’s benefits to the market. In some cases, a compelling offer may be so powerful you need only announce it with simple copy. In other circumstances, such as a complex product, additional copy is required to communicate the benefits. Companies that offer complex online training products sometimes use “video sales letters” that last for 30-60 minutes in order to communicate their value.
Offer: 20 litres of Grade A industrial cleaning product for $1,000
Copy: Introducing a new cleaning product that will not burn or hurt your staff when spilled. When you order by June 1, receive an extra 10 litres as our gift to you.
In the example above, the copy focuses on a negative benefit – something the product does not do. Will that message resonate with your target market? You can only find the answer to that question with experimentation. This copy above aims to make an immediate sale.
However, that is not always the right approach.
Lead Generation Offer
Offer: Free report on best practices for oil refinery safety
Copy: New study of 1,100 oil refinery facilities managers reveals the best practices to minimize injuries, repairs and regulatory fines. Visit OilSafetyReport.net to download a copy of the report.
In the lead generation example, the objective is to identify people interested in your product rather than making an immediate sale. Delivering a free report to your prospects also positions your company as a helpful resource, rather than just one more supplier on the market. If your product is complex, unknown or has a high price, starting with a lead generation approach is a wise approach. In this way, you have the opportunity to educate the prospect about your product and how it will make their business better.
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