A 3-step strategic approach to getting winning results
In the B2B universe, operating a business without a clear strategy is like navigating a treacherous road without a map while wearing a blindfold. Without a clear way ahead, how can you know where you’re going? Navigate over obstacles? Or know when you’ve reached your destination?
To be successful, your organization needs to take a 3-step strategic approach that includes research, strategy and measuring results.
Your research data is the compass. Your strategy is the roadmap. And your results are how you know if you’ve arrived or if you made a wrong turn and need to try a new approach.
Step 1 – Research
You might think you understand your target customers, but do you really? If you’re just using intuition or going off knowledge gained years ago, the answer is probably not. This isn’t meant as an insult. It’s a common issue in every industry, including marketing. And it’s just as true of large organizations who’ve been in business for decades as it is for that little shop around the corner that opened last month.
Instead, before your leadership team or your marketing and sales departments sit down to discuss this year’s marketing strategy or the new product launch campaigns happening in Q3, there’s one thing you need to do first – research, lots of it. Afterall, as the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” But where do your start?
Know your audience
When we say know your audience, we don’t just mean talking to current customers or who you think your customers should be. We mean who they are, what their problems are and where they are in their search for solutions. By talking to your current customers, your prospects and to the individuals and firms who chose a competitor, you glean insights you may miss by relying on emotions alone.
Know your market and industry
Even if you’ve been doing business for decades in the same industry, you still must continue to research, study and analyze your industry and the market. Why? Because complacency will lead to stagnation. To stay one step ahead of the pack, you must be able to predict, to anticipate changes within your industry. Things move quickly. You must be able to pivot as well.
Know your competitors
You probably know your main competitors by name, but what do you understand about their strategy? How can you win the game if you don’t scan the playing field? Competitive research helps you discover and dissect everything about competing brands – their core values and financial filings, their mission, vision and values, their marketing campaigns and even what their customers think of them.
The goal of marketing research is always to develop a deep understanding of a market, a company and customers. In the B2B world with millions of dollars at stake, the ability to perform market research and analyze the resulting data is paramount to developing a winning strategy that will generate profitable revenue.
Step 2 – Strategy
If research is a journey of discovery, marketing strategy is those discoveries writ large. When insightful research leads to savvy strategy and there’s alignment between marketing and sales, leads and conversions ensue. Brand, brand positioning, brand personality and tone, customer personas, buyers’ journeys, messaging, elevator pitches, tag lines, etc., all spring from the insights gleaned from in-depth research.
Strategy is a huge topic unto itself. The following three elements are the foundation that every other brand or campaign element is built on and part of what feeds your integrated marketing plan.
Devise data-based brand positioning
Your brand and brand positioning are the first things your prospects encounter and as we’ve said before, trusting your gut isn’t always the way to go. Nor is cleverness for the sake of appearing original or intelligent. Instead, whether you’re starting from scratch or refreshing your brand, you can’t hone in on what works without research. The research you and/or your marketing agency did in step one combined with a dash of intuition is what ensures customers will see your brand an immediately think, “these guys get me.”
Create customer personas and buyers’ journeys
Another element of strategy that lacks legs without research and data analysis is the creation of customer personas, ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and buyer journey maps. With multimillion-dollar purchases and buying cycles that can stretch into months, the B2B buyer’s journey is far more complex and nuanced than B2C. To market a B2B product or service successfully, a company must understand the challenges, needs and motivations of an array of influencers and decision makers across a broad spectrum of responsibilities.
Craft informative messaging
Words matter. If you say tomato and I say tomaahto, it may well call the whole sale off. Buyers and decisions makers must believe that you understand the challenges they’re trying to solve and have a solution that suits their needs, addresses their concerns, and fits their budget and timeline—all without disrupting their business or threatening their long-term viability. A data-informed messaging strategy that includes value propositions, key message drivers and proof points helps keep messaging in sales and marketing materials believable, authentic and persuasive.
Step 3 – Measure Results
Research and strategy are just two of the three essential steps to overall B2B marketing success. However, if you don’t align your marketing strategy to your business goals and measure results from your campaigns, you won’t know what aspects of your B2B strategy need to change or if you need to go back and do further research.
Without KPIs, goals and results, you have no way of knowing if audience and customer habits and problems have evolved over time. You need to understand if leads and sales are less one quarter or year than another if it’s due to outside economic forces or changes in customer behavior for other reasons.
Those results will also help you understand if you need to make major changes to brand positioning, customer personas or messaging, or if it’s something like changing the wording of a CTA or updating and refreshing a blog post with more recent information.
Partner with an agency that understands integrated marketing strategy
If you need help creating an integrated B2B marketing strategy, it’s important to hire an agency that’s uniquely positioned to support your business in whatever way is needed.
At Elevation, our B2B expertise spans disciplines and industries. Research and analysis, whether already commissioned by you or executed by our team, are the cornerstone of our engagement. We thrive on a data-driven approach and believe it gets the best results for our clients.
From foundational elements such as messaging and creative, to of-the-moment promotional campaigns, to integrated marketing plans that take the long view, we are disciplined about reporting on activities and progress to ensure we stay in alignment with our clients and are able to pivot quickly when business shifts.
Contact Elevation today to discuss your B2B integrated marketing needs!