B2B Marketers: Your Marketing Wardrobe Needs an Update
Many marketers need to face up to it — your marketing department is doing the same old stale marketing activities while the best marketers are producing stunning results. When you cut down to it, you’re like the emperor who isn’t wearing any clothes, denying the obvious truth that your wardrobe of marketing tactics and strategy lacks any substance or — maybe even worse — is terribly outdated. Assuming that you have the right whole product, product packaging, and pricing, your wardrobe may in fact date back to the 1990s, comprised of product collateral and data sheets. Maybe you supplement it with a white paper or two a quarter, put up a relatively static website, go to some industry trade shows, and rely on your advertising firm and PR firm to help you to generate demand. The good news is that your cause isn’t hopeless. In this post, I’ll lay out an updated 8-piece wardrobe that will have you stunning the market in no time!
Here are the 8 critical pieces of a productive marketing framework you need to try on and get fitted for right away:
1) A Firm Grasp of Your Go-to-Market Targets and Your Leverage Points with Them
This includes an understanding of:
- your customer segmentation
- your buyers’ journeys (most importantly their sticking points and your leverage points)
- who influences your buyers
- the best marketing channels you can use to reach your buyers
- the best sales channels you can use to reach your buyers
- the ecosystem partners you can use to accelerate your market development
- the competitive messaging you can use that best resonates with your market targets
Note: OpenView has an eBook on customer segmentation that outlines some basic approaches, and upcoming eBooks on the general topic of understanding your market targets are on the way.
2) A Creative Content Factory
This entails creating compelling content daily, packaging it in different ways (blogs, articles, infographics, reports, podcasts, webcasts, videos, etc.) recycling and creating larger pieces of content (eBooks, e-learning, content sites, free downloads, games, apps, etc.). Most importantly, the content should be created to address a specific go-to-market goal and you should ensure there is enough content created to successfully achieve that goal (the goal for most of your content is to get your targets to “opt in” to ongoing marketing activities, so each piece of content should have conversion mechanisms built into it). I use the term creative content factory because you need to get creative in order to stun. You need to be creative in your design, visuals, and words, but you also need to get creative in topics, perspectives, how you amplify your messages, the content choices that you have, and everything else that you do with your content! Note: Keep an eye out for OpenView’s upcoming free content factory eBook. Sign up for our weekly “tips and tricks” newsletter to be notified when it comes out.
3) An Inbound Contact Factory
Simply creating creative, high quality content isn’t enough. You also need to ensure your market targets are able to easily find it by posting your content to inbound marketing channels — your website, search engines, social media sites, forums, and content specific locations such as eBook sites, infographic sites, etc.). The goal of your inbound contact factory is to be found and for your targets to “opt-in” to your ongoing marketing efforts, so make sure that each contact point has conversion mechanisms built into it.
4) A Real-Time Online Presence
Your content should bring your company to life and help you engage with people who want to interact. This can be as simple as monitoring and responding to social media, but a more sophisticated online presence will have a chat feature on your website that allows your visitors to chat with you in real time. This is a tremendous tactic that many companies have been quite successful with.
5) An Outbound Contact Factory
You put a lot of effort into creating great content. Setting up your content to be found (inbound marketing) in a good first step, but you should also proactively find and reach out to your audience, building relationships with them using outbound contact techniques. These include:
- Outbound marketing to create market target awareness, interest, and, hopefully even sales. This is similar to setting up for inbound marketing, but it generally involves paying to make the contacts with your targets. This is a traditional advertising/events activity and is aimed at stimulating awareness, interest, and getting your targets to opt-into connecting with you and allowing you to market to them. Note: OpenView also has a Marketing Channel Discovery eBook that can help you find some great channels (it can also help you find inbound marketing channels and influencers, as well).
- Relationship marketing to your prospects (buying roles). This is one of the best ROI initiatives for marketers, as it is an outbound approach that targets people who have already shown interest in you (tip: another great way to market to people who have already shown interest is to turn on a great remarketing campaign). The industry calls this “lead nurturing,” which is a terrible term in my view. Relationship marketing is all about reaching out to your market targets (who have opted into your program) and sending them compelling pieces of content and special offers that will provide them with value and also help them to move to the next point in their “buying journey”.
- Relationship marketing to your customers (both user and buyer roles). More advanced relationship marketing programs extend their efforts to customers to help them get more value out of your products and services, assist them in renewing, and encourage them to develop their relationship with you (and perhaps even become customer evangelists). There are several companies that have started developing powerful SaaS systems to help you manage your customer advocates including Zuberance and AdvocateHub. The basic idea is to help your customers become advocates and then turn your advocates into marketers for you!
- Relationship marketing to your sales influencers (influencer marketing). The industry used to call this PR and many PR firms have evolved to do great work with the long tail of influencers who are in every product market. The key point is that there are a lot of individuals that can be “turned on” to your ideas as well as your products and services and who can become marketers for you if you make them part of your community and/or you become part of theirs. They can also help you by creating content for your content marketing efforts and also by giving you feedback on your content as well as your products and services. Note: We put together a great eBook on influencer marketing that explains how to attack this topic.
- Optimizing direct sales contacts. This is a more traditional marketing role, but something that is still under-optimized in many young companies. The basic idea is to figure out what material you can produce that will help your sales group at each step in the buying journey for each of the major buyers. The salesperson’s role is to help the buyers buy. The marketer’s role is to help arm the salesperson with the best content to help the buyers buy. A secondary role for each salesperson is to help the marketers by getting their prospects to opt in to your relationship marketing program and also to keep accurate records in the sales contact system so that the relationship marketing program has much more relevance to your prospects.
- Optimizing indirect sales channels contacts. When you use indirect sales channels, there are extremely valuable approaches that the marketer can put in place to support the efforts, including programs to sign up, on-ramp, and support the channel partners, programs to help the channel partners with their marketing and sales efforts, and even programs to market to the channel partner’s customers and market targets. This is pretty specialized for each type of channel partner (very difficult to go into in a single blog post), but if you are using indirect sales channels, you should consider these different angles for outbound marketing to and through your channel partners. Your channel partners generally need all 8 pieces to make them stunning, and you are in a great position to help them and to get them to sell much more of your products!
6) A Friction-Free Conversion-Optimization Lab
If you have the basics of the first five pieces in place, this is a great piece to focus on (note: many earlier companies need to get their basic content and contacts in place before they start fine-tuning). Essentially, what you are trying to do with every piece of content at every contact point is to move your market target forward in their journey. The further you move them forward, the better. The problem is that you need to understand if you are moving them forward, and you need to understand exactly how changes to your content and changes to your contact (both inbound and outbound) impact that movement. There is only one way to do this (other than getting lucky) — you need to determine the flow of your market targets through their journey and then you need to measure how that flow is changing as you make changes to your content and contacts. What you are attempting to do is to tune everything you are doing to make it easier and easier for your market targets to get through their journey and achieve the goals that you have for them.
7) A Campaign Strategy that Choreographs and Aligns Your Marketing Factories
The idea is to show the market a regular rhythm, to make the market feel the momentum of your company, and to show the market something new periodically. The ideal rhythm is somewhere between enough to get your market targets’ attention, but not too often to the point that you become boring or annoying. The simplest campaign strategy for young companies is to have either a quarterly or three-times-a-year product release, and to use the release as a vehicle to coordinate a large chunk of your marketing activities toward a) content related to the release; and b) contacts related to the release. Other campaign strategies could be coordinated around:
- new large customer/partner wins on a regular basis
- the number of customers that you have each period
- the amount of usage growth for you product
- the revenue growth for your company
- anything else that the market will perceive as interesting so that it will help you amplify your messages
8) A Brand Perception and Competitive Positioning that Makes You Look Stunning!
The best way to gain traction with your market targets with the prior seven pieces is to coordinate them in a way that hits the mark and sets you apart. Brand and competitive positioning are your coordination vehicles! They get measured based on what the participants in your target market think, feel, say, and do as it relates to your company. The prior seven points are all about content and contact with your targets, so if you want to have a particular brand perception and competitive positioning, you need to:
- know what you are aiming for (your brand and competitive positioning aspirations)
- make sure that all of your content and contact is aligned with those brand aspirations
Clearly, your whole product will also need to be aligned with the brand perception and positioning, as well.
There You Have It: An 8-Piece Marketing Framework / Wardrobe that Will Have You Stunning in No Time!
Note: At OpenView Labs, we spend a lot of time trying to determine the best approaches that our portfolio companies can use to grow their businesses. This post describes our current thinking regarding marketing, which has changed dramatically over the last several years. We would really like to get your feedback on this post, including your thoughts on the following:
- Are there important aspects of your marketing that don’t fit into this 8-piece framework?
- Are there pieces that you think are more or less important?
- Is there a better way of framing out today’s marketing opportunities?
B2B brand and product positioning will only continue to become more important with the rise of the End User Era.