How Do Custom B2B Marketing Programs Work?
Business owners and marketing executives of business-to-business (B2B) companies face a major challenge: to dramatically increase lead generation and sales without having the right mix of marketing skills on their team.
They turn to marketing agencies for help, but spend a lot of money without getting results.
Custom and comprehensive marketing programs produce results by increasing demand generation for B2B clients because they take a holistic approach to all 4 Ps of marketing – product, placement (channels), pricing, and promotion.
Unlike what is very common in B2B marketing, where companies move from promotion to promotion without an overall strategy, it’s important to avoid “hit-and-run” marketing. Piecemeal marketing generates piecemeal results, which is why so many business owners are disappointed by their marketing results. A programmatic approach to B2B marketing goes deeper, starting with a comprehensive strategy designed to spark genuine and repeatable results.
From our experience over the last 25 years, a successful B2B marketing program has three phases:
Phase I: Creating the Spark
A comprehensive assessment of your sales and marketing goals, target markets, differentiation, activities, results, and problems, helps lay the groundwork for a strategic “reset.”
Beginning with a marketing audit or comprehensive marketing plan, it’s critically important to review your marketing and sales efforts to identify gaps and hone in on opportunities where the greatest impact can be made on lead generation and thought leadership – short and long-term – across all 4 Ps of Marketing:
- Products & Services: current line-up, future roadmap, target markets, differentiation, etc.
- Pricing: methodology, applying value and market-based pricing, application for channel partners and end-users, promotional pricing, etc.
- Channel Marketing: target channel partners, programs, discount structure, channel marketing, website portals, etc.
- Promotions: website, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, AdWords, campaigns, PR, videos, social media
Because internal views can be hampered by blind spots, it’s essential to incorporate external views from key partners, customers/end-users and even competitors. Market research and competitive intelligence exposes what’s being missed roots out misconceptions, and prevents multimillion-dollar mistakes by vetting new products, programs and pricing concepts.
A comprehensive marketing strategy can then be developed to plug the gaps, seize new opportunities and achieve marketing best practices – with the goals of increasing thought leadership, demand, leads, and sales. If you find the right marketing partner, they will function as both an advisor and a member of the team.
Phase II: Ignition
The second phase focuses on shoring up your marketing foundation and aligning the marketing strategy with your executive management and sales department goals.
Inbound lead generation is central to this stage. Existing website content is revised and optimized for search engine optimization results that will pull prospects in and put them on the path to purchase. Online searches are where prospects begin educating themselves and it’s important to remove any barriers keeping our you from showing up in those searches. Content has to do more than just prospecting, however: it needs to tell them a compelling story once they get there to convert them into a lead. If you want more than top-of-the-funnel content, you’ll want to work with experienced copywriters that are already familiar with your subject matter or can demonstrate an ability to rapidly learn it along with the characteristics and requirements of your target markets (tip: people with a market research or journalism background tend to have this important skill).
Outbound lead generation is also an important part of the mix, with email marketing, direct mail, events, webinars and calling campaigns, among other strategies.
Phase III: Acceleration
The third phase of an effective B2B marketing program focuses on reinvesting inbound and outbound lead generation gains to drive additional lead generation and thought leadership.
Higher-level inbound lead generation activities build upon our results, like creating compelling, gated content that separates the casual visitor from a qualified lead. Gated content includes whitepapers, ebooks, guides, checklists, recorded webinars, partner portals, and other content available for download. Vertically focused content, including case studies, videos, solution sheets and microsites highlights subject matter expertise, which we magnify with social media promotion. Public relations campaigns and link-building efforts create high quality backlinks and establish our clients’ reputation as thought leaders in their fields.
In cases of underperforming organic inbound lead generation activities (often in highly competitive industries), it’s important to create and launch search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns using Google Ads and Bing Ads. You may also want to increase search results within targeted websites such as Amazon, LinkedIn, Thomson Reuters, etc.
If there’s an opportunity to sell online, especially to international channel partners or aftermarket products to end-users, B2B e-commerce is the way to go.
Public relations campaigns also fuel high-level outbound efforts, generating media coverage, publishing opportunities and speaking engagements. Outbound efforts can also include channel partner recruitment campaigns, market research projects to investigate new vertical markets, industry association sponsorship, and selective advertising.
Work with a Marketing Partner
While there are many marketing vendors out there who are responsive and may even solve some difficult problems, only a marketing partner that understands your business can help you achieve a B2B marketing breakthrough. They will typically offer some form of marketing audit or assessment in order to do deep-dive due diligence before proposing a large scope of work. Contact us if you’d like to explore what an Innovaxis marketing audit can do for you and if we might make sense as your marketing partner.