You might be surprised to hear that across companies of all shapes and sizes, there is a common challenge when it comes to developing an effective B2B marketing plan.
Some companies are just starting to think about marketing in a formal way and are not sure how to begin. Others have already invested in some marketing tactics — say, a website, some blogging, and newsletters — but don’t yet have a clear strategy for how to use them.
Still others have invested a lot in marketing efforts — such as a dedicated team, a marketing automation platform like Hubspot, and some significant segmentation work — but are simply not seeing the benefits.
The central issue for all these businesses is, how can we do marketing right? The answer is the secret to crafting an effective B2B marketing plan.
The first step? Adjust your mindset about marketing.
With the changes in the way people access information and make buying decisions, there’s been a fundamental shift in the way companies go about winning new business.
Today’s business model requires looking at things from the perspective of the customer experience and what we call the attract-engage-delight continuum. That’s the continual, circular process of:
- Attracting prospects by providing helpful, meaningful information and creating conversations with the right people so that they decide to contact your company
- Engaging prospects by making it easy to do business with you, solving their problems, and moving prospects through the sales cycle and to the decision to purchase
- Delighting customers by providing an ongoing experience that adds real value, makes your customers successful, and turns them into advocates for your business
To keep this process moving so that it can feed business growth, marketing needs to touch every communication and piece of content that is part of your attract-engage-delight continuum.
That means marketing is not a just pre-sales tactic or a department to call on when you need an ad or a nicely designed report.
Rather, marketing is a whole business strategy and must be layered over your entire company. And other vital business processes, such as sales and customer service, must be integrated into your B2B marketing plan.
Take a good, hard look at what you do to attract, engage, and delight.
Once you adjust your mindset, how do you market more effectively to your prospects and customers?
Begin by auditing the processes you already have in place to attract, engage, and delight. This will help you uncover places where you can make improvements:
- Gaps where you are letting customers down or failing to meet their needs
- Sticking points where prospects are getting stalled and not converting to customers
- Areas where using a different tactic might give you better results
- Untapped opportunities you can act on quickly to see a fast return
For example, are you struggling with getting people in the door (attracting)? Have prospects expressed a strong interest in buying, but you’re not closing sales (engaging)? Is poor customer experience eroding trust and preventing you from getting repeat business (delighting)? Are you failing to educate your customers about all your offerings and missing out on upsell and cross-sell?
We often see seemingly successful businesses doing what we call “random acts of marketing” — investing in a team, tactics, and tools without having any plan in place for how to use those resources. Or, companies put a lot of time, energy, and resources into B2B marketing tactics without putting any metrics in place to evaluate ROI.
Here are some other common mistakes we’ve uncovered in audits of attract, engage, and delight processes:
- Failure to understand the time required to see results,such as implementing an SEO strategy without understanding that it is a long-term tactic for driving web traffic
- Lack of an integrated sales and marketing process to nurture leads and track them with a closed loop reporting system
- An underutilized customer database — for example, having market segmentation data but little understanding of customers’ ongoing experience or whether they are likely to buy again
- Lack of a process to upsell if an account manager discovers a gap or new need with an existing customer
- Failure to proactively ask customers what they want and need — for instance, waiting for customers to renew a service agreement rather than asking what would make them happy to sign a new contract
Looking at your attract-engage-delight continuum on a regular basis — such as every six months or quarterly — helps you:
- Understand if, where, and why you are failing to deliver on your promises to customers
- Stay on top of opportunities for improvement as they arise
- Leverage momentum in your existing process to further attract-engage-delight
Build your B2B marketing plan around your attract-engage-delight opportunities.
Once you have identified where the low-hanging fruit is, you can develop a marketing plan that applies more tactics and resources to the areas that will give you the best results.
For example, if you’re already generating a lot of healthy traffic to your website, you can focus your efforts on engagement tactics to help to turn more leads into sales. But if you’ve got under 500 visits per month (depending on your industry), you might want to concentrate your efforts on attract.
Remember you’re marketing to people.
Knowing your audience is crucial to meeting your B2B marketing objectives.
You’ll find that putting time and energy into learning all you can about both prospects and existing customers helps you better understand:
- The problems they face
- Why they buy products and services like yours
- How they want to interact with you
- Why they might switch to a competitor
That’s why, before developing your B2B marketing plan, start with research that helps you learn this information from prospects, leads, and existing customers. We call this “persona development.”
Learn more about that here.
It’s all about creating success for you AND for your customers.
A lot of variables go into choosing the best marketing approach, and the same plan is not going to work for every business.
But whichever tactics, tools, platforms, and channels you decide to use, marketing success lies in creating ways to regularly connect with and help people in their journey from website visitor to prospect to customer to advocate.
With this customer experience and attract-engage-delight at the core of your B2B marketing plan, you can create realistic goals for what marketing can and should do for both your customers AND for your business.
Still not sure where to begin or how to audit your attract-engage-delight process? Contact HELLO Marketing for a free 20-minute consultation that will help get you on the right path.
Call Lauren at 973.214.5942 or email her at email@example.com.