How to improve ROI on your B2B Marketing and Lead Generation?
Marketing is an art, more than it is a science. Today, more often than not, B2B organizations are too focused on digital marketing (social media marketing, PPC, etc.) and less focused on traditional marketing approaches (content marketing, direct selling etc.).
Of course, digital marketing is important to build awareness for your company and solutions. But, this is not enough. As B2B marketing consultants, we work with numerous organizations on building their sales and marketing strategy, aligning cross-functional teams with common objectives and returning to traditional marketing.
Throughout all of our engagements, we always find a common suspect: heavier focus on digital marketing and not enough on traditional marketing. We’ve concluded that there are 3 major reasons why organizations are falling short on their business development and marketing efforts.
The reason why most organizations fail in delivering on their marketing efforts is because of a lack of strategy and alignment between teams. Quite simply, an effective marketing strategy consists of:
- Having up to date market information on what is happening on your industry to make strategic and tactical decisions to conquer market share.
- 100% collaboration between departments in the completion of mutual goals.
- Returning to traditional marketing strategies to be successful (more below).
First things first: Strategy
The internet has enabled us to gain access to a plethora of information, 24/7. Information (data) is always evolving. New companies emerge and threaten to enter a specific industry or market vertical and new trends position companies for innovation.
Whether you are looking to launch a new product line, penetrate new markets, understand customer profiles or simply looking to beat competitors, you must have a good handle on your b2b sales & marketing strategy before hand.
In order to strategize effectively, you must have market research.
Step 1: Market Research
Thorough market insights helps your team understand the basics of your industry. Some of the goals of any tailored market research report can be;
- Understanding new product trends and innovations
- Understanding any market fragmentation or consolidation in your industry
- Identifying market values for emerging SKUs and new product lines
- Getting a sense of what competitors are up to
To position your company, people (salesforce) and solutions, you must understand what the overall battlefield looks like.
- Where can we strategically enter to defend or gain market share?
- What products are our customers looking for the most?
- What messaging will work for our prospective customers?
This is no simple step. You definitely can start off with a light Google search in looking into your industry. This would give you a very generic overview of the landscape but it will not be tailored to your particular situation.
As we said earlier, marketing is an art, less of a science.
Step 2: Create Marketing and Business Development Plans
Once we’ve nailed down the market research, we can start to think about tactical and strategic decisions more objectively. Executives understand where the highest-ROI opportunities exist in the market place and managers know how to deploy and allocate their resources (capital and human) more effectively.
Isn’t that nice?
Unfortunately, nailing down the strategy is not enough. It is important for you to have both a Marketing and Business Development plan. These plans usually aim to answer the following:
- What’s our target market for this new product vertical?
- What opportunities can we capture in the marketplace?
- What marketing sequence (blogs, webinars etc.) are we going to use to generate leads?
The list goes on. The idea is that the research backs up the strategy behind the Marketing and Business Plan, which in turn sets the stage for clear objectives.
Step 3: Set Clear and Measurable Goals
Goal setting is instrumental to a marketing strategy. Without a clear direction on objectives for all departments (Sales, Marketing, Operations etc.), achieving good results is unlikely. In fact, its impossible and a sure-fire way of blowing your marketing budget into the ground.
Goals help boosts employee motivation, encourages accountability and ensures commitment by all to attain quarterly and yearly objectives.
I will not tell you which goals to set up in your organization in this article. Doing this would be naïve because the goals really depends on the mission of the organization, the position in the industry, internal capabilities and top priorities. Doing this would require a real consultation.
Rather, I will show you how to organize and set up your goals like the top companies do at Google, Microsoft etc. The method here is called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and was made famous by John Doerr, a top-notch venture capitalist.
The idea is that the goals at the Executive level cascade down to management level and down to the employee level. It’s really awesome and it works extremely well both for Toledo and our clients.
Let’s look over an example.
For example, if we are a manufacturer of eCommerce packaging in Eastern Canada and we are looking to conquer market share in Western Canada, following our market insights, we might choose the following cascading goals for our organization.
Objective: Become the 2nd market leader in packaging in Western Canada by Dec 2021, as measured by
- KR 1: Engage with 10 medium sized prospects and close 20% as new customers by Q1 2021 (Sales)
- KR 2: Complete new product catalogue for Western Canada by Q1 2021 (Marketing)
- KR 3: Secure 2 distribution channels in Western Canada (Direct, Retail) by Q1, 2021 (Operations)
Notice how our Objective is ambitious yet realistic. Furthermore, it has a deadline in order to force us to commit. Secondly, all the Key Results are measurable and specific, that way at the end of the quarter we can measure how effective our marketing strategy was.
Additionally, the CEO’s 3 KRs are directly related to a functional department; KR 1 is the Q1 2021 objective for the sales department, KR 2 is the objective of the Marketing department in Q1 2021 etc. Goals are cascading down the organization to align all teams on the objectives of this quarter.
Objective: Engage with 10 medium sized prospects and close 20% as new customers by Q1 2021
- KR 1: Generate 5 proposals with interested partners by Feb 15, 2021
- KR 2: Cold Call 50 prospects a day and generate 5 meetings (10%) by Feb 15, 2021
You get the idea. I will not go into further details about goal setting for the purposes of keeping this article simple.
Essentially, for our marketing strategy to work effectively, goals need to be transparent across all departments at all times; sales must know where marketing is in their progress and in turn, operations must know how sales is progressing. When everyone is aligned, the sky is the limit.
For more insights on goal setting, read my post on Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams with Goal Setting at Mentor Works.
Step 4: Return to Traditional Marketing
Finally, we must blend digital marketing efforts with traditional marketing. When I say traditional, I mean anything but PPC and SMM. Like we said before, if we were a DTC business (B2C), we would put more emphasis on these techniques. In B2B, we must put more emphasis on:
Case studies on past clients that are short and to the point serve multiple purposes for your company:
- Sales weapon: your salesforce will be able to deploy valuable insights and past work to their prospects both in the first outreach and follow ups.
- Proof of work: it enables prospects to be more comfortable in investing in your services because it works.
- Demonstrates professionalism: it shows that you really care about delivering results (value) to your clients.
Case studies are simple but long to do. It requires a good content strategy and dedication to a return to traditional marketing.
Testimonials are a social proof mechanism. They act to inform prospects that a peer or competitor in their industry vouches for your services and was significantly improved by their engagement with you.
Imagine you are the CEO of a financial services firm looking to generate more sales, and I provide you with a testimonial from the CEO of a hedge fund that doubled their sales with my marketing program?
I bet you would take the time to consider engaging with my services.
Likewise, testimonials serve multiple purposes for your organization:
- Sales weapons
- Proof of work
- Social proof